SOME months ago I was in the city of Chicago, on my way West. And because of Chicago's reputation, one is naturally inclined to be a little suspicious of strangers. I hurried into the Union Station late at night to buy a railroad ticket. Every man and woman in the corridors and waiting rooms was a stranger to me. At the ticket window I met a man who was a stranger to me also. I had never seen him before, and have not seen him since. I asked about trains and the fare, and he asked me for more than $100 for a ticket to California and back to Chicago.
I took from my pocket some good paper money and passed it through the wicket to this stranger, who, in return, gave me only a narrow strip of green paper, which promised me a first-class passage to California and back. Did I doubt him? No, I passed over the money and took that piece of green paper in return without the least hesitation. I picked up my bag and started for the train, but was stopped near the gate, where the conductor, another stranger, seated at a high desk, asked for this precious ticket, and I had to surrender it to him. He folded it up carefully, and put it in an envelope and slipped it into his pocket. He handed me a small check, and promised that my ticket would be returned before I left the train at San Francisco. Did I worry about it? Not a bit.
I checked a piece of baggage on that train, too. It had taken me some time to gather together the valuables in that hand baggage, but I surrendered it to a strange man in the big city of Chicago, and he gave me a small piece of cardboard about three by two inches, with some figures printed on it. That was my security. Did I lose my baggage? No. I trusted these railway employees, and they cared for my belongings.
That train was manned by a crew who were strangers to me also. I had no idea who was to drive that great engine while I slept that night. But I went to sleep without a care. The old train rambled on through the darkness, over bridges, past switches, around curves, and I slept peacefully on, trusting my life to those strangers. Hadn't they promised me on that green ticket that they would carry me safely to my destination? Yes, they had promised, and I had faith to believe they would.
The Lord has made hundreds, yes, thousands of promises in His word. They have been recorded for us. Do we believe them? We trust frail, erring man, but do we have faith in God?
If you should feel a severe pain in your lower right side, you probably would consult a physician, who might tell you that you need an operation immediately for appendicitis. You might be far from home, among total strangers. But you would climb onto an operating table and place your life in the hands of a strange surgeon and strange nurses. Mere man is not always dependable, but God "is not slack concerning His promise." 2 Peter 3:9. If we have faith in our fellow men, why can we not rust our heavenly Father?
Faith in God is one of the conditions of answered prayer. Without faith it is impossible to believe Him. And believing in Him as our Father, we will naturally ray, "Thy will be done," trusting that He will answer our prayers in the way that will be best for us.
George Muller was one time telling a friend how his faith had increased in twenty-five years. The friend was curious to know the secret, and inquired of Mr. Muller. Raising aloft a copy of a well-worn Bible, he said, "Friend, I have read the Book through 100 times. I know the Book, and I know the God of the Book."
Have you ever tried this prescription? In the Scriptures we are told, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17. Because the Bible is not read, is neglected, our generation stands out as an unbelieving, faithless one.
The late Dr. David Paulson was on good terms with the Master, and talked to Him often. He went to God with simple requests, and He answered his prayers. When he and his wife went out to a suburb of Chicago to start the sanitarium, they were without funds. As they were clearing off the weeds and underbrush from the property which they had secured, they knelt down on the hillside and told the Lord they needed $100 with which to begin their work. The second day after this a man walked into the office of Dr. Paulson's brother in Chicago, and asked if the doctor needed any money in his work. When told that he did, he left $100 with Mr. Paulson, and asked him to give it to the doctor. Did he just happen to think about giving this money? Did it just happen that he gave one hundred dollars instead of seventy-five or eighty?
At one time the coal bin was empty at the Rescue Home for Girls. The matron told her trouble to Dr. Paulson, and he asked her if she had prayed about it.
"What!" she asked, rather surprised, "would you pray for coal?"
"Why not?" replied the doctor. "Get your workers together, and we will tell the Lord our needs."
The little family of workers came together in the chapel. Dr. Paulson knelt with them, and they told the Lord about the coal bin being empty, and asked Him to see that it was filled. That same week a letter came to the doctor, addressed in a trembling hand. It was from an elderly woman in southern Illinois. She felt impressed that the doctor needed money, and so sent him a check for $200. He had never seen this woman, but she had read of his work, and the Lord impressed her heart to send this check in answer to prayer. This was just the amount needed to buy a carload of coal.
These incidents did not happen only in Daniel's time, nor in the time of George Muller, but in our time-the twentieth century. God has not changed with the passing of the years. But we have changed, and have changed much. Nothing is wrong on the broadcasting end of the heavenly radio, but on the receiving end there are weaknesses.
At one time Dr. Paulson took fifteen nurses to Chicago to do community nursing. They asked the Lord to send them work for these fifteen young people, and within thirty-six hours the telephone rang just fifteen times, asking for nurses of that very kind.
Dr. Paulson needed a stenographer, and asked God to send him one. A ragged-looking man walked into his office a few days later and asked to see the doctor. On being asked what he wanted, he said he was looking for work. "What can you do?" asked the doctor. "I am a stenographer, sir," he answered.
"Well," said Dr. Paulson, "I have been praying for a stenographer."
"And I have been praying for work," said the stranger.
"I think we should get down on our knees," said the doctor, "and thank the Lord that we met - that He answered our prayers."
And they knelt together and thanked the Lord for answered prayer. Do we thank Him for His blessings, and for answering our prayers? That stenographer proved to be a good one, and helped around the sanitarium for many months. Would God do as much for you and me? Why wouldn't He?