Titanic-sized Unanswered Prayer

Today is an anniversary of unanswered prayer (I’m writing on April 10).

My friend Tillie wanted a ticket for today. She asked God to let her ride the great new ship on her maiden voyage. Tillie had been faithful to a big promise, but God did not get her the ticket she wanted.

A 16-year-old in Norway, Tillie had yearned to make her future in the land of promise, America. Her mother balked. Eventually, Mother gave permission with one huge condition. Tillie could go to America if she promised to come back and visit her mother after four years. Mother was confident that Tillie would get adventure out of her system and return home where she belonged. Tillie sailed to America, and landing in New York with $75 in her pocket, she found her way to Valley City, North Dakota, where a job awaited. After saving up money for four years, she fulfilled her promise, and recrossed the Atlantic back to Norway. Her mother was unable to persuade Tillie to stay. Tillie booked a ticket to England. Once there she sought out a ticket on her dream ship to America.

Ninety-nine years ago from the day I’m writing, the Titanic departed without Tillie. Ninety-nine years ago from the day I’m posting (Friday, April 15), the Titanic sank. There were 1,517 souls lost. Tillie was grateful for unanswered prayer.

Fast forward 64 years and a few months. The Summer Olympics were in full swing in Montreal, Canada. My big brother, Pete, was driving a maintenance cart across his college campus at the tail end of a long day. The maintenance cart was a converted golf cart, top-heavy and loaded with gear. Rounding a corner too fast, the cart tipped a bit. Pete stuck his leg out to right the cart, but the cart tumbled over. With his leg pincered to the pavement, his whole body was pulled under the cart. His spleen ruptured, and he was bleeding to death internally.

Fortunately for Pete, Tillie’s prayer for a ticket on the Titanic had gone unanswered. Tillie’s son saw my brother trapped under the cart. He grabbed his brother and two other men, and they lifted the cart off Pete. Rather than waste time waiting for an ambulance, they lifted Pete into the back of a station wagon and raced for the nearest hospital. Parking in the ambulance zone, Tillie’s son leaped out of the car and ordered the staff to treat this man NOW!

Today Pete is training field linguists to translate the Bible in unwritten languages.

Today I am grateful that God did not answer Tillie’s prayer 99 years ago, or my brother’s rescuers may never have been born.

I thank God for answering prayers according to his wisdom, not mine.


About Ben Unseth

Executive Director at Project Understanding (2014-2017), social service agency in Ventura, CA
This entry was posted in Hypertext: words that point up, theology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Titanic-sized Unanswered Prayer

  1. Ivy says:

    What a marvelous post, Ben. God is God and we are not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s