When Prayer Turns Desperate (Part I)

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Even at nine years of age, I knew better than to call the church during the worship. So when the telephone rang at our tiny country service, my eyes turned with the other 40 members to watch our secretary slip into the office. 


Within moments, she motioned for my mom. The news was not good: my brother-in-law’s plane had crashed. 


A former marine “frogman”, Ray had always loved to fly. I’d been up with him several times in the single engine prop plane and often wondered how his 6’1” 225-pound frame could fit into such a tiny space. The muscle that he put on in the military never left him and it was most obvious in his broad shoulders and upper body strength. 

Although a farmer by trade, Ray had been invited to use his pilot’s license for crop dustingHe was an excellent pilot and could make the turns and sweeps with efficiency and ease. 


Yet now, as I stood in the small county-seat hospital, I could see that something had gone terribly wrong. Phrases like “third degree burns” and “critical condition” were whispered around me in solemn tones. My hero never opened his eyes as I stared at the sheets – hovering, but not touching, his huge frame. 


Weeks later, after the scare of death passed and the long, arduous process of whirlpools and skin grafts began, Ray described the crash scene to us. 


In the midst of a very routine run, the nose of his Cessna 195 had suddenly dropped. Ray said a quick prayer as he checked the instrument panel. Nothing seemed alarming with the engine, just he continued to loose altitude. Although the hinged ailerons on either wing were responding, Ray couldn’t restore the plane’s lift. Try as he might, the propeller seemed determined to make contact with the crops below. 


From within the cockpit, Ray checked the air speed and noticed that he was clocking 110 miles per hourstraight for the ground. Realizing the inevitability of a crash, he tilted the plane to cause the left wing to take the initial shock of the collision. It crumbled underneath him like a paper bag moments before the rest of the plane made final impact. 


Flipping and skidding, the aircraft dug into the cotton field several feet before coming to a complete stop. Only his prayers cut into the hissing of escaping liquids. Unfortunately, this quiet didn’t last long.


As Ray hung upside down by his shoulder straps, he could smell the toxic parathion leaking into the cabin.  Knowing an explosion was imminent, he hastily tried to free himself from the harnesses without success. Within seconds, the plane burst into flame as the sparks from the electrical system ignited with both the highly combustable aircraft fuel as well as the poisonous insecticide. 


Ray knew then that his desperate prayers had only One Hope.


(Get the rest of Ray’s story in tomorrow’s post.…)