June 24, 2014

Dateline Moscow

During a painful spiritual struggle, I reluctantly made my way to a conference I had been invited to attend as a guest speaker.

Frankly, I didn’t want to participate, because I felt unworthy to speak to the group of Christian professionals. But something compelled me to go anyway, and I’m glad I did. I met a professional horse jockey-turned-pastor named Pavel, and he told me three stories in rapid succession.

The Runaway Horse

Shortly after becoming a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, Pavel was working at his stables in Kiev when one of the animals escaped and fled down a busy street.

Pavel was horrified. He didn’t know how to stop the horse. He saw the creature darting through traffic. He heard squealing tires and the neighing animal. An injured horse would hurt his team. A dead horse would prove costly to his wallet and career. Helpless, he prayed, “God, make the horse stop.” At that precise second, the horse halted in midgallop.

Pavel approached the animal cautiously. It didn’t twitch a muscle. Gently Pavel began to nudge the horse back in the direction of the stables. Step by step it followed him obediently, its movements resembling a robot. It was as if angels had grabbed the horse’s legs and were planting one in front of the other.

“It was a miracle,” Pavel told me. “The incident occurred when the horse was full of energy. It should have been impossible to stop the horse.”

Give Me Vision

Several years later, after Pavel had given up horses to keep the Sabbath, he met an elderly woman at one of the three churches which he served as pastor. The woman was losing her sight. She went through three pairs of glasses, each thicker than the last. It got to the point that she couldn’t read at all.

Through her tears something incredible happened. The words of the Bible came into focus.

Weeping, she prayed over her open Bible one evening, “God, I want to see. All I want is to be able to read Your Word.” Through her tears something incredible happened. The words of the Bible came into focus. The woman began to read.

At church the next Sabbath, she read from her Bible before the entire church. A shocked member exclaimed, “You’re reading without glasses!”

“That’s right,” the woman replied with a smile. “I can see like a first grader!”

A Freed Prisoner

A young man contacted Pavel to ask for food and a job after being released from prison, where he had served time for theft. But the man had a problem. While in prison, he had been beaten brutally by the guards, who had broken his spinal cord in three places. He could not walk.

Pavel brought the young man to church. Seeing the visitor with his thin legs dangling limply over the pew, church members felt compassion and decided to pray for him. They held a season of special prayer for a whole week. They prayed morning and evening.

One morning the man, excited, called Pavel on the phone. “I’m walking!” he exclaimed.

My Story

When Pavel reached the end of the third story, my mouth hung open, and all I could say was “Wow!”

Jesus said to a woman caught in her own painful spiritual struggle: “Neither do I condemn you . . . go now and leave your life of sin.” Why? Because “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:11, 12).

I left the conference knowing three things: The God who set an ex-convict free from his prison of immobility could break my ugly chains of sin. The God who gave a woman her sight could allow me to see His will. And the God who stopped a runaway horse would lead me home.