Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
To Terence Emptage, it was just another day on the farm he managed in Cheshire, North Wales. He was plowing a field, a job he had done many times. The fact that the field was on top of a cliff (and one side of it steeply dropping into a valley some 150 feet below!) Didn't faze him. Terence was used to rocky terrain-both outside, and in. "My reality was my work, my family and what existed for me on this earth," he says. He paid little attention to spiritual notions. Life was tough enough trying to support a young family, with little or no chance for advancement in this rural area.
Terence had completed most of the field, and all that was left now was the outside rim, about six feet across. "Next to the cliff edge there was a lot of straw and hay that had been left as fodder for the cattle," he says. "It was extremely thick, so I thought I should clear it."
But his boss had other ideas. "Just plow it under," he directed.
"He's the boss," Terence muttered to himself as he finished the last of the furrows. Now he started the uphill climb to the mass of hay. It was hard work for the tractor, and as Terence neared the top, the tractor suddenly shot forward. Shocked, Terence realized that it was almost to the edge of the cliff! "Everything happened so fast that I couldn't do anything," he recalls. "The slippery hay had somehow lifted the whole plow attachment out of the ground, and we were going over!"
Suddenly Terence felt strong hands grip his shoulder and pull him off his seat. As he fell, his foot caught between the seat and the gear lever! All was lost now-but no! His boot split and he was free. But not out of danger. He had landed just in front of the rear wheel of the tractor. Still moving slowly, it rolled over his pelvis. Now Terence was pinned to the ground---and the turf blade was heading straight for his outstretched legs! He wouldn't go over the cliff, he realized. He would be cut and crushed to death. Instead, unbelievably, the entire tractor lifted up and off of Terence, and rolled over the edge of the cliff.
"I sat up and watched it roll and bounce until it landed in the muddy stream on the valley floor below," he says. "If I had gone with it, I would have been smashed to pieces." A neighboring farmer below ran toward the tractor looking for Terence, and was stunned to look up and see him on top of the cliff. "The farmer and his son came up to me and brought me home, as I was unable to walk due to my back injuries."
Terence's boss was furious over the loss of his tractor, and the services of his manager. "He was angry too that I would be off for at least a few months," Terence recalls. This did not bode well for Terence's future with the farmer. "So I took a deep breath, gave him my notice and we moved in with my in-laws for the duration of my recovery." It was an inspired move, as the in-laws owned a struggling market garden and poultry farm. Once Terence was ready to work again, he was able to build up the business, and turn it into "a little gold mine for all of us." Things, he says, happen for a reason.
It took a while before Terence was able to tell his wife about the unseen pair of hands that had pulled him off the tractor, and somehow kept him from being severely injured. "Many things have happened to me since, but this has made the deepest impression," he says, "because I owe my life, and the beginning of my spiritual faith, to the one who saved me." He tells the story whenever he can, hoping that others may believe as he now does, that God and His angels exist-and they love us.
Dear Lord, thank You for the protection that You offer. We thank You that the angels of heaven are under Your leadership and will protect us when we need such protection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.