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Belief in Higher Power

My father told my brother and I a story once. The story goes like this . . .

There were once a great flood sweeping through a small village. Most of the villagers had evacuated into the mountain with a few just finished packing and about ready to leave. One villager stood in the middle of the village watching the commotion. The water was already foot deep. A friend came by in a hurry, saw the villager standing there, and said, "What are you doing? We need to head out into the mountains." The villager brushed the friend off and said, "I believe in god. God will save me." The friend saw that the persuasion is doing no good and left. The water was almost to their knees.

Half-an-hour later, the villager was still standing in the rising flood water. Water was up to the waist. All of the companion villagers had already left for higher ground. A boat came by with several out-of-towners onboard. One of them said, "Friend, the water is rising fast. Come onboard and we will take you to higher ground." The villager replied, "I believe in god. God will save me." Time is short, there are other people to save, and people on the boat realized that it's time to move on, so they left.

Another half-an-hour passed. The villager was still standing in water, which is now up to his chest. A helicopter flew by overhead, saw the villager and dropped a ladder. Through the loud speaker, the rescue team said, "Grab the ladder, climb aboard, we'll take you to safety." The villager didn't respond, because all he wanted to say was "I believe in god. God will save me." and the rescue team will never hear it over the loud engine noise. The rescue team thought he might be incapacitated, so they sent one of their own down the ladder. When the rescue team member reached the bottom of the ladder, the villager repeated his belief and waved the rescue team off. Frustrated by the villager's insistence of relying on god, the rescue team flew off to save other victims.

Pretty soon, the flood reached the villager's neck. The water was extremely cold and uncomfortable. The villager knew how to swim, so he floated on his back on top of the water, waiting for god. The coldness finally became unbearable, but it felt good closing his eyes and falling asleep. When the villager woke up, he was surrounded by brightness. Everything was white. And there was god. He knew he had passed on from the world. So he asked god, "I believed in you. But why didn't you save me?"

God's reply was very simple. God said, "I tried. I asked your friend's subconscious to persuade you to leave. I stirred up the wind to blow a boat pass your way. I even sent a helicopter to save you. And I have even given humans the ability to swim."

The moral of this story is quite obvious, so I won't go into it. But I was reminded of this story today while I driving. The second day into the new year and it's raining cats and dogs. But I have always loved driving in raining days. With the superb traction of my Subaru all-wheel-drive (AWD) and its rally performance suspension set-up, I was ready to take on whatever loose grip awaits me on the road. And having the skills that earned me the time-trial license on a race track, I'd be more than happy for my car to go a little side-ways so that I can practice the little bit of driving techniques that I have learned.

Today, the road was slippery, but not slippery enough for my car to hydroplane. And there was no traffic. Just prior to my destination, I approached the railroad tracks that I travel over everyday. With the suspension set-up on my car, I can generally cross the railroad tracks at full speed. But today, the tracks are filled with water, so I wondered if my car would hydroplane over it.

Just as I approached the railroad crossing, I came up behind another slow moving vehicle. It was a big old BMW 740 sedan. The driver slowed way down as it approached the railroad tracks, forcing me to slow down as well. I could have change lanes and pass him over the tracks. But I was a bit lazy and didn't see the need to hurry to my destination. So I slowly crept over the tracks, reaching my destination with no more than a little slip along the way.

It was at the instance of crossing the tracks that my father's story floated back into my mind. Was there a higher calling that put the slower vehicle at the railroad tracks? Or is it purely just a coincidence?

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 2 Jan 2006 14:48:18 -0800

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