We walk so often every day close to miracles and we walk on by and we miss them.
Merlin Caruthers tells the story when he was a chaplain in the army. A young man came to him, a young private, one day and he said, ” My wife is going to commit suicide, I have a problem. What do I do? She said if I go to Vietnam she would take her life. She already attempted suicide once when I was drafted and I’m sure that she will accomplish it now because she almost succeeded then.”
And Merlin Caruthers said, “Send your wife in and let me talk to her. So he did. Now God had been dealing with Merlin and teaching him how to praise and not grumble and complain all the time. Most of us grumble and complain but if we begin to, as I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you.”
In everything! And so Merlin asked God, “What am I going to tell this lady when she comes?” and God said, “Tell her what I’ve taught you.” She came in, sat down, and began to tell a sad story. She had been adopted as a young girl before she was born. She had been separated from her adopted parents and had no family. And when she married Ray he was all she had. She said, “If he goes to Vietnam I’ll kill myself. ”
And Merlin asked the Lord, “What will I tell this woman?” And the Lord said, “Sit back, fold your hands, open your mouth and I’ll tell her.” He sat down, folded his hands, opened his mouth, and the Lord said, “Sue, there is just one thing I want to ask you to do, kneel down and lets thank God that Ray is going to Vietnam. ”
She was angry and it is natural that would seem to be the only reaction. That was a stupid thing to say. And he could tell that she wasn’t about to do that, he said well lets pray anyway. So they prayed and he said his prayer went absolutely no place.
He got through with that and she said, “Chaplain, I don’t understand a thing youâ€™re talking about,â€ and out she went. He got a phone call from her husband a little bit later and he said, “Chaplain, what did you tell my wife?”
He said, “Well I told her that everything works together for good to those who love the Lord, and so on.”
He replied, ” Well what ever you told her she’s twice as mad as she was when she came in.” And so he said, “why don’t you just come back and let me just talk to you.”
So later, Ray came back to the office, but meanwhile Merlin was praying, “Lord, what am I going to tell this man? I’ve got to tell him something. What will I tell him? He needs an answer.” The Lord said, “Sit back, and fold your hands, Iâ€™ll tell him.”
He sat back, folded his hands, and spoke the young private across from him and he said, “Ray, there’s just one thing I want to ask you to do. Let’s kneel down and pray and thank God that Sue is exactly like she is.” Well, he looked a little strange but he did pray for him and nothing happened. I mean he said, â€œThis is terrible.â€
The young man said, “Now chaplain, I don’t want to be disrespectful but now I understand why Sue doesn’t understand a word your talking about. I don’t understand either.” And so, he went out.
As the young man went out Caruthers said,” Ray, why don’t you come back with Sue, let me talk to the two of you.” He said, ‘All right, we’ll do that but we have to have an answer, Chaplain. We’ve got to stop fooling around, we’ve got to have an answer.”
The chaplain got down and he said, Now Lord, we’ve got to stop fooling around. I mean we’ve got to tell this man something. He’s got to know something. ” And then he said, “But anyway, thank you for them just exactly as they are. ”
The Lord said, “Finally! Finally, Merlin, that’s what I’ve been trying to get across to you all along. You can’t help them.” That’s right Lord I can’t help them. But the Lord said, ” I can. Now when they come in this time, sit down, fold your hands, open your mouth, and I’ll tell them.” And Merlin said, “Oh praise the Lord, that’s what I wanted Lord.”
They came in and sat down across from him and he said, “Now Ray and Sue, there is just one thing that I ask you to do. Kneel down with me and let’s thank God for things exactly the way they are.”
Well, Ray looked at Sue and he said “Sue I don’t understand what the chaplain is talking about, and I know you don’t understand what the chaplain is talking about but he seems to think that he knows what he’s talking about. So let’s just kneel down and thank God for this.” And so they knelt down and prayed. “Thank you Father, thank you Father,” said Ray,” that I’m going to Viet Nam.” Sue prayed, “Thank you Lord, that Ray is going to Vietnam and I might try to kill myself.”
Then they got up and they walked out. They walked out into the little chapel outside the office door and Merlin knelt down to pray, to thank the Lord at that point. But when they got outside the door, Ray turned to Sue and he said, “Sue, did we really do that? ”
“Well, yes, I guess we did.”
“Did we mean it?”
” Well I guess we did.”
He said, “Well let’s just give it another try,” and they went over and knelt down at the altar and they prayed again.
And this time he said, “Father I thank you that I’m going to Vietnam.”
She said, “Father I thank you that Ray is going to Vietnam and things are just the way they are.”
Well, Ray had to go back to his company so he left. Sue sat down and very shortly the door burst open and another private, another young man, came in that door. He said, “I got to talk to the chaplain.”
She said, “Well, he’s inside his office and the door is closed. But he’ll probably be out in just a little bit.”
And he said, “You don’t understand, I’ve got a problem, I’ve got to talk to the chaplain.”
And so he came over and he began to explain to her, he took about ten or fifteen minutes telling his problem. She said, “Well, there is one thing I can tell you. If you go in there to talk to that man he isn’t going to help you one bit.”
But, he said, “You don’t understand this, and he pulled out his billfold, and said look this is a picture of my wife, and this is a picture of my children”, and then he turned over the next picture and Sue said, “Oh my God, who is that woman?”
“That’s my mother. Why?”
She said, “That’s my mother!”
“It can’t be! ”
She said, “Yes it is! That’s my mother. When I was a girl I was adopted and they didn’t tell me. But one day I was going through a drawer and I found the adoption papers and there stapled to the corner was that same picture. I know that picture, that’s my mother.”
He answered, “I can’t believe this is so, but let’s go make a phone call.” They went and made the phone call and she came in and knocked on Merlin Caruther’s door a few minutes later. She had her arm around another private.
She said, “Chaplain, you are not going to believe this, I found my brother! And I know who my mother is!”
And Merlin said, “Praise the Lord!”
Sue stated; “Do you think its because I said thank you, Lord?”
He smiled at her. “I don’t know what you think but I sure know what I think.” And then she left with her brother.
Ten minutes later there was a knock on the door and it was Ray and he said, “Chaplain, youâ€™re not going to believe this. He said, I hadn’t gone but 700 yards, heading back to my company, and I ran into a friend with whom I graduated from law school and he said, he was a second lieutenant. He said, ” Ray, how are you doing? What are you going to be doing? I answered, “Praise the Lord, I’m going to Vietnam. And the man said, well, Ray, you’re a good attorney, why aren’t you working in the law office here with me?”
They went in his office and five minutes later his orders were changed and he wasn’t going to Vietnam. And he said, “Chaplain, do you think its because I said, thank you Lord? ”
Merlin replied, ” I don’t know what you think, Ray, but I sure know what I think. ”
I want to say this; you can say that was all coincidence. Here is a young private who passed twenty chapels to come to this one chapel, to a chaplain he didn’t know and didn’t even get to talk to. His sister happened to be sitting there, whom he had never seen. Ray talked to a man that he had not seen since he graduated from law school and in the process did not have to go to Vietnam. Chaplain Caruthers had his problem taken care of, too. He was sweating it and God took care of it for him.
What I’m trying to say is this; God orders the steps of a thankful man. God has already taken care of things. Everything was there, he didn’t just instantly perform a miracle, he didn’t just instantly put her brother in that camp, he just didn’t instantly put that other man in the camp, they were all there and the miracle was already set up. All they had to do was trust God and thank God and praise Him and it happened.
Thanks to Beth for sharing this story. Don’t miss the opportunities that are all around you.