4 – Timing Is Everything
My wife and I were on U.S. Highway 6 in western Nebraska, just east of Cambridge. This is a part of the country where cattle outnumber humans. There was a tremendous storm and we’d had to escape from our house because of flooding. We sought refuge at the house of a neighbor, a cattle farmer. Many travelers had done the same thing, so his house was full of refugees. But our host had a problem unrelated to his unexpected guests.
There was a high-voltage line on his property that provided power for his farming operation. One of the wires had broken in the storm and fell across one of his cattle fences. The electricity went through the fence into the ground. Cattle tend to bunch together in a storm. All the farmer needed was for one of those animals to touch the fence and he’d have a whole herd of hamburger – dead cattle. He’d called the electric company, asking for help, but had been told that they had so many emergency calls to help humans, that they just couldn’t help in this situation until the storm subsided.
I know a few things about electricity and was already soaked to my skin, so I volunteered to go out and see what we might do. As I explored the yard, I saw an electric box on a pole that held circuit breakers, so I thought that I might be able to cut the power at that point. As I approached the box, however, I looked beyond it and saw where the broken high-voltage wire was lying across the fence, the two welded together. The junction was glowing red. At the same time, I felt a sharp tingle in my boots. It would not have been healthy for me to get any closer to that spot.
I looked up at the pole that the broken wire hung down from and saw an industrial sized circuit breaker. All we needed to do was to open that breaker. But we had no equipment to do it. I reported what I’d found to the farmer, who explained to me that his brother was the electrician for the farm and kept all the climbing gear and such with him. He didn’t live on the property and couldn’t get there that night. We had no options.
It seemed most reasonable to me to pray about the situation, but I felt that I was a guest at this place and needed my host’s permission to do so. When I requested it, he gave me a strange look that said that praying wasn’t a problem solving method for him. Then, he looked around at the house full of people. I could hear his mind ask, “What will they think? What if I prayed loudly or long and embarrassed him?” Desperation will cause people to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. He was desperate. He hesitatingly and tentatively gave me his permission.
My purpose in praying wasn’t to impress anyone with how religious I was, but to get badly needed help from my Father. My wife and I bowed our heads and prayed in low tones that I’m not aware that anyone overheard: “Lord, this man has provided a refuge from the storm for many people, including Your servants. Will You please help him out of this crisis? In Jesus’ name. Amen.” When we raised our heads, the doorbell rang — immediately.
The farmer went to the door. The man on the porch was from the electric company. He just happened to be driving past the farm on his way to help someone else. He just happened to know about the farmer’s problem and about the pole and breaker. He just happened to have a tool on his truck that would enable him to open the breaker while he stood on the ground. He explained that, if he opened the breaker, there’d be no power to the barn until the broken wire was repaired. He added that he didn’t have time to repair it that night, but opening the breaker would remove the danger to the cattle. Was this acceptable to the farmer? A very wide-eyed farmer nodded his assent.
The electric company repairman went out to his truck, got his tool, walked to the pole, opened the breaker, got back in his truck and was gone down the highway. I whispered, “Thank you, Lord.”