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A Cry for Help

"When he [the blind beggar] heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'"1

Clark Strand, a former Zen Buddhist monk, shared how "two years ago, on board a midday flight out of Memphis, Tenn., I suddenly found myself repeating the words, 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!'

"This would not have been remarkable had I been a member of the Orthodox Church, which for more than a millennium has used that prayer as its preferred method of contemplation. For that matter, it would not have been remarkable had I been a Christian of any kind. As I was a Zen Buddhist who professed no belief even in God, much less Jesus, it came as a bit of a shock.

"I was on my way back from the bathroom when the plane simply fell out of the sky. My feet kept lifting up off the floor. I hung comically for moments on dangly puppet legs, and then somehow I managed to make it back to my seat. I had just buckled in when my wife turned to me from across the aisle where she was sitting with our two young children and said the four words no one on an airplane ever wants to hear: 'Do you smell smoke?' It was the moment we've all imagined. You look forward and backward into the faces of the other passengers (complete strangers, all but a few) and read there the selfsame thought: 'So this is what it means to die.'

"Miraculously, just minutes later we were back on solid ground. The plane, as we later found out, had developed an electrical fire in the control console, and the pilot, not knowing how long he could steer it, had descended as fast as he could, driving her for all she was worth, covering the 25 minutes back to Memphis in just under 10 minutes flat.

'When all seemed lost, it wasn't Mu I had cried out, or even Buddha, but of all things, Jesus—in spite of everything else I had ever believed or done.

"Only later that night in the hotel room, with the children in bed, did I remember the moment during the flight when my spiritual life had taken a 180-degree turn and, as it were, headed back to port."2

Need I say more?

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me not to wait until I am in the midst of a life-threatening crisis to call on You to have mercy on me and save me. Help me to do that right now. And whenever I am in a crisis of any kind, grant that my cry for help will always automatically ascend to You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer—and that You always do when I cry to You for help. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen." 

1. Mark 10:47 (NIV).
2. Clark Strand, a former Zen Buddhist monk, "At the Root of It All."


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.