A Divine Wake-Up Call in Cairo
In the late 1990s I was in Cairo, Egypt, on business and staying at the downtown Meridien Heliopolis Hotel. The Muslim Brotherhood was “active” at the time, therefore security was tight at all major hotels where foreigners stayed. Everyone and everything was scanned, passports checked, even just to enter the hotel to go to your room. It was Thursday, and I had just completed an intense four-day software training course for Egyptian scientists at a government research center. Although I had earlier lived in the Arab world for six years, heard the adhan (call to prayer) by muezzin from minarets hundreds of times, I was anxious to be home in Canada the next day.
I really needed to catch my 6:30 am flight to Frankfurt the next morning, which meant getting up at 4:30 am. I wasn’t sure if the hotel would deliver on the wake-up call, and I have on occasion slept through an alarm. So, I set the alarm in my room, committed this to prayer and went to sleep at around 10 pm.
I distinctly remember having a wonderful dream – and in the “background” thinking “this is such a nice dream, I am afraid I will sleep deeply and miss the wake-up call or alarm.” Well, I enjoyed the dream – which I cannot remember at all — but right in the middle of the dream it suddenly stopped and I instantly woke up. I looked at the clock – it was precisely 4:29 am! I was totally awake – like I could do pre-calculus if I had to (“go figure”). This is unusual – I am not a morning person and always take a while to “really wake” up. My wife knows this quite well!
The hotel did not deliver on the wake-up call and the alarm that I set in the room didn’t go off either. After a quick shower, I left the hotel, my taxi was waiting for me, and I arrived at the Cairo airport in good time for my Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and then home to Winnipeg. Conclusion – Father God was taking care of me. He knew how much I wanted to catch my flight and soon be home with my family. Father God had arranged a divine wake-up call for me.
The same sort of thing happened again a few years later in the US. I ended up in Detroit late one day in December. Snow and bad weather cancelled my flight, and I had to check into a hotel by the Detroit airport for the night. I needed to get up at 5:30 am to catch an early flight to Toronto. Similar to what happened in Cairo, I woke up in the middle of a relaxing dream at precisely 5:29 am, wide awake. It was if Father God was saying to me “see, in case you ever doubt, I am looking after you”.
Saved from a Collision with a Semi-trailer
A few years ago, I was on my way to my dentist, just a ten minute drive from my home in Winnipeg. I was at the intersection of Kenaston and Tuxedo, waiting for the light to change. I know this intersection well, having gone through it hundreds of times. But this day, when the light turned green, I could not move my foot from the brake to the accelerator. It felt like my foot was frozen in place, paralyzed. This never happened before – in the panic I wondered if this is a sign of Parkinson’s. I looked in the rear view mirror to see if a car was coming behind me, since my not moving could cause a collision. Fortunately, there were no cars behind me or approaching me.
Suddenly, from my right side where my view was obstructed, I saw a semi-trailer loaded with steel running through the red light at about 60 km an hour right in front of me. The roads were wet from a rain earlier, so I expect that stopping suddenly could cause skidding. But nevertheless, no vehicle should run through a red light. Then I realized that had I entered the intersection immediately when the light turned green, I would have been killed from a direct head-on collision with a semi-trailer that I could not see coming.
When the semi had passed, I was able to move my foot, clear the intersection and soon arrive at my dentist’s office. There is no other explanation for my foot being “frozen” for over five seconds – my heavenly Father was watching over me and prevented a serious accident.
An Unexpected Business Class Seat from Hyderabad to Frankfurt
Some years ago, I was soon to board a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt from Hyderabad, India. I had never felt so unwell before an international flight. I was starting to feel quite weak and chilled, shaking a little bit. I had just finished five days of software training for PhD scientists and research assistants at a seed company in India. Like all my other business trips to India and many other countries, I was careful in everything I ate and drank among other precautions. No one wants to get sick in a foreign country, including me.
As I sat in the airline lounge, I prayed silently about this as I was trying to keep warm. I wasn’t looking forward to the seven hour over-night flight, wondering how I would cope in economy class with all the noise and children as was typical for that flight from Hyderabad to Frankfurt. I had an aisle seat in row 60, quite near the back. I had enough strength to board the flight, and felt exhausted just getting to my seat.
As I sat there, feeling even more ill, an Indian lady came down the aisle with her husband, staring at me and looking several times at her boarding pass. She said that I was in her seat and I had to move. I replied that I would not move since I was in the correct seat as per my boarding pass. She showed me her boarding pass, and it showed my seat! How could this be? She was quite agitated and demanded her seat. Although true gentlemen give up their seat for ladies, I was feeling unwell and weak, and in no hurry to move. I said that we would have to wait for a flight attendant to come and sort this out.
Just then, a Lufthansa flight attendant did come down the aisle, and asked for me by name with the correct German pronunciation – she definitely was looking for me. Incredibly, she handed me a new boarding pass and said “Dieter Mulitze, you have a seat in business class, please take your things and move to our business class cabin.” I was totally surprised, but immediately thankful. I hadn’t asked, and there was no reason for them to offer me a business class seat “out of the blue”, and with no upgrade fee. Yes, I had Elite status with Air Canada, but that does not mean an upgrade on a Lufthansa flight.
I gathered all my remaining strength to get out of my seat, fetch my items from the overhead bin, and proceeded to the business class section. I found my seat in business class, sat down exhausted, and started to rest better. A meal came soon, and after that, I reclined fully into the sleeping position with the warm blanket. Business class gives you your own “private space” with essentially a bed after you figure out all the buttons and controls. I was still feeling ill, but slowly starting to recover. I think I slept for about five hours straight, and while in the middle of a dream, it suddenly stopped and I woke up instantly. Breakfast was about to be served, so I woke up at the right moment. I was feeling a lot better, almost fully recovered, due to the long sleep and rest which I really needed. I enjoyed the breakfast, with my favorite German sausage and more, ever so thankful.
I have flown with Lufthansa for almost thirty years, on more flights than I can recall. Never once was I offered or expected an upgrade from Lufthansa. This is a great airline, it is just that I have no such privileges unlike with Air Canada with whom I have flown over a million miles. But this one time, and precisely when I was feeling the most unwell in all those thirty years, I was given a business class upgrade so that I could rest and recover. I have studied probability theory in university, and what happened was not a random event or “sheer coincidence”. My only conclusion is that Father God was looking after me.
Knowing God as Father: A Key to Wholeness
The above stories came to mind when I was reflecting on God as Father in my own life. They stand out as examples of Father God’s practical care and protection for me. In some ways, they are “signs of His Presence”. Experiencing God as Father is vital to the Christian faith. The Lord’s Prayer starts with “Our Father ….” Father God cares for us ever more than He does for the birds of the air (Matt. 6:26-27). The prophets refer to God as Father (Is. 9:6; 63:16), we know Him as “Abba” (Rom. 8:15), and our fellowship is with the Father (1 Jn. 1:3). We cannot achieve complete personal wholeness until we have a correct, Biblical understanding of fatherhood and God as Father in our own lives. Some of us need healing from abusive or absent fathers in the past, so that we can see God as Father. In short, Father love is essential for our spiritual wholeness. This can also reduce our anxiety level in the midst of our modern high-stress lives.
I have seen this many times in healing prayer sessions. One such session stands out. A lady came for prayer, with a deep emptiness in her soul because of a largely absent father who was a travelling salesman when she was a little girl. In the prayer time, Jesus brought back memories of when she did spend time with her father, and she suddenly remembered some small but caring and significant things her father did for her at those times. Then came a series of memories about a grandmother and grandfather who took care of her every summer as a little girl. Jesus began to help her see the past more correctly, and a void began to fill as she could see God the Father in her life like she never did before.
Disappointing, unsatisfying, or negative experiences and relationships with our earthly fathers can cause relational and health problems later in life. Or maybe a father passed away. There then develops a deep desire, often not well understood, for authentic father love. It can even drive some people to atheism, as pointed out by Dr Vitz in his book “The Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism”.
Here’s a spiritual exercise you might want to try. Find a quiet, restful place and ask Jesus to show you how and when God the Father has been active in your life. You may well be aware of some, but I fully expect more will come to mind. Wait several minutes at least. This is an example of “listening prayer” as practised among the spiritual disciplines for centuries. Why ask Jesus? See John 14:9.
Note: This post was originally published under the title “Knowing God as Father: A Key to Wholeness”.