Monday, May 2, 2011

No Coincidences With God

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the LORD, you His faithful people; praise His holy name. (Psalm 30:1-4)

West Side Baptist before the explosion
Choir practice at the West Side Baptist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska, always began at 7:20 on Wednesday evening. At 7:25 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1, 1950, tragedy struck. An explosion demolished the church. The blast forced a nearby radio station off the air and shattered windows in surrounding homes.

The tragic tale that was told, however, is not what you might think. The tragedy was that the church was horribly damaged. No one was hurt in the explosion.

Not only was nobody hurt, but the true irony of this tale is that no one was there. Each member of the usually faithful choir was late for practice. Most of them had great excuses, but they were all late.

One was having trouble with a geometry problem. She knew practice began promptly and always came early. But she stayed to finish the problem. Another was ready, but the car would not start. So she and her sister called the geometry problem girl and asked her to pick them up. One other member also had car trouble. Another was late because she had to help her mother clean her house. Two were simply late for unexplained reasons. One man became engrossed in conversation with his sons and lost track of time. The pianist fell asleep after supper and made her mother, the choir director, late also. A high school girl wanted to finish listening to a radio show and made her friend wait with her. Even the pastor and his wife were late because she realized at the last minute that her dress had a stain, and she had to iron another.

West Side Baptist after the explosion
At 7:25, a thundering blast, that was  heard in almost every corner of Beatrice, nearly leveled the West Side Baptist Church. The walls fell outward, the heavy wooden roof crashed straight down. The firemen thought the explosion was caused by a gas leak in a pipe, that was ignited by a flame from the furnace. Regardless of the cause, if the choir members had been in the building that night, they would have been seriously injured at the very least, or at the worst, killed.

What are the odds of every single person who was to be in the choir that night, being late? Some may attribute the occurrence to coincidence, but you will never convince the choir members of that. They are all of the strong opinion that it was divine intervention that saved their lives.

In the Psalm quoted above, David is praising God for sparing him from destruction. He writes, “you spared me from going down to the pit.” Then he admonishes God’s people to sing His praises.

Can you imagine what the choir must have sounded like the next time they sang God’s praises in worship? They were saved from injury or possibly death. They had a very direct, personal reason for praising God, and I’m sure they sang praises from the very depths of their soul.

You may not have been saved from something so dramatic as an explosion, but God watches over you, nonetheless. I maintain that we have no idea how many times those little inconveniences of life are really God protecting us from danger. Am I saying that the next time we are delayed by something to thank God for it? Yes.Yes, I am. As crazy as it may seem, those delays just may be sparing us “from the pit,” as David put it.

We have much to praise God for. We are blessed with many things, but the one, tangible thing we know we can lift up our praise to God for is our salvation. Not from destruction on this earth, but from the utter destruction of our sinful souls. Give Him the praise He deserves!

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me; LORD, be my help.” 11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:5-12)

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