by Patti Richter
The voice of the Lord is over the waters…. –Psalm 29:3 ESV
A dark image flashed before me, waking me from a sound sleep at 2 a.m. I couldn’t ignore the internal alarm.
I left my sleeping husband, Jim, and went to our teenage son’s room. Wes was 7000 miles away from home, in China, for a semester of Mandarin language studies. The days had ticked by slowly for us, though peacefully—until this night. For the first time since he left, I climbed into his bed to pray.
Our adventurous, youngest child had visited China before with a group from our church. But this time, alone, he adjusted to classrooms with no heat in freezing temperatures and classes where neither the students nor the professor could speak any English.
When the weather began to moderate in late March, Wes felt secure enough in his surroundings to explore the city. He enjoyed using a wide-range camera with a large zoom lens he’d purchased for his trip. Jim and I looked forward to our twice-a-day Skype calls with our son. But a 13-hour time difference meant our days and nights were reversed.
Before his return home, Wes asked us if he could travel to a city in Southeastern China that he previously visited with the church group. He had kept in touch with English-speaking students at a large university there, and his contacts would help him find a place to stay on campus.
Jim and I had misgivings about our son’s travel plan. However, with his housing arrangements assured, we agreed to let him go.
When Wes arrived in Xiamen, his expected accommodations were unavailable, so he stayed in a nearby hotel—alone.
He soon began meeting with college students at an “English Corner” group they attended to improve their language skills. Wes also enjoyed venturing out into the colorful port city with so many historic landmarks. He took a ferry boat to a small, pedestrian-only island where he could explore without road traffic. He walked along the island’s narrow brick streets past hundred-year-old buildings from China’s colonial days and climbed a rocky outcropping to capture panoramic images of the mainland.
Though he checked in with us daily, our son’s growing independence concerned us. We experienced peace by day, knowing he was sleeping. But we grew uneasy at night, knowing Wes would be sightseeing again. At bedtime, we prayed for him, and I specifically asked the Lord to wake me for any circumstance needing prayer.
So, the disturbing image that night put me on high alert. I propped two pillows against our son’s headboard and leaned back, trying not to panic. I believed the Lord woke me to pray, not to make me afraid. When peace returned, I fell asleep.
The familiar Skype-tone the next morning brought great relief! Wes sounded normal, with little to report until mentioning high winds that day.
The terrible image flashed before me again: my son in dark waters.
“Were you out in the wind?” I asked.
“Well, yes. I visited the island again. I hadn’t planned to go, or I would have asked you first. The ferry ride was rough.”
“Did you stand at the rail?”
“Were other people by the rail?”
“No. But it was fine.”
“Did you have your heavy camera around your neck?”
“Yes. I wanted to get better pictures this time.”
That’s when I told Wes about my prayer alert. And though he discounted the idea of any real danger, I believed God had spared us from a tragedy.
Days later, I watched my son stroll casually out of the airport customs area—safely home.
Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15 ESV
This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.
Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.
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