The warmth of his breath on your face

Adam Harbinson
Adam Harbinson

I was chatting to a friend who is a church pastor the other day and he was telling me about a car accident he was involved in just a week or two previously. His eight-year-old son was in the back seat of the car and he said something like: ‘I wonder what it’s like to have a big lorry run into the back of this car.’ And apparently, within minutes, a big lorry did run into the back of the car. Thankfully no one was injured.

However, what I found difficult to understand was his semi-flippant comment that if it ever happens again, he should pray and take spiritual authority over the impending and, presumably avoidable, accident

To me, the obvious action to recommend is for the boy to scream: ‘Dad! There’s a big lorry heading in our direction!’

My friend’s attitude springs from the notion that God micro-manages every aspect of our lives to the extent that we have no control over anything, no choices; as my old mother used to say: ‘If you’re born to be hung, you’ll never be shot.’

You might know the story of the man whose house was flooded, right up to roof level, and so he prayed that God would rescue him, and God gave him that assurance. The Fire and Rescue Service came along and he told them: ‘No thanks. I know I will be OK’, even though he was standing on the roof’s ridge tiles and the water was up to his waist.

The same thing happened a little later when a rescue helicopter appeared.

In Heaven, he protested: ‘Go, I honestly believed you would save me. Why did you not keep your promise?’

And God looked at him in a strange way and said: ‘I sent you a boat, right? And then I sent you a helicopter, right?’

I sometimes get more than a little perplexed what some things people say. For example, a lady well applied for a promotion, and when her application failed, said: ‘Well, it wasn’t to be!’ Nothing to do with the possibility that she was not qualified for the job, or that maybe another applicant was better equipped.

I watched a documentary on TV recently when the Christian mother of a young child who was born with a rare deformity was heard to say: ‘I know this is all in God’s plan.’ How sad is that?

Derek Prince used to tell me that he would never have left his home in the morning without calling out to God for protection. Sounds sensible perhaps, but think it through:. One morning good old Derek sets off, running a little late and forgets to carry out the ritual prayer, and yes, has an accident. Now, is that because Derek was driving too fast? Or that another road user was not paying attention? Or was it, as Derek might have suggested, because God saw the collision before it happened but said to himself, ‘Sorry old friend, can’t do anything about this one, you didn’t pray this morning.’ Nonsense, isn’t it?

No, we can and should live our lives at a higher, richer and deeper level, devoid of stiff and starchy legalistic deals with the Father – ‘If you do this, I’ll do that.’ It can be a life of daily, hour-by-hour communion with him. As singer-songwriter Brian Houston says: ‘Feeling the warmth of his breath on your face.’

And that my friends, is the essence of simplicity.