HE MEANT WELL
MANY years ago I heard of the wonderful work being done in Peru by the LeTourneau road engineers and contractors. For this reason I was especially glad that the past Christmas brought me from America his life-story called Mover of Men and Mountains.
Mr. LeTourneau is now an old man and he claims to be the builder of the largest earth-moving equipment in the world. God so blessed him that instead of giving a tenth to the work of Christ, as most of us do, he is able to give nine-tenths. The present story, however, concerns his early days when he was working with his Uncle Bob in a garage in Stockton, California.
One day an elderly customer brought in his old car which needed some welding done on the exhaust pipe. LeTourneau put the car over the grease pit and then climbed underneath with his torch to cut the pipe. The whole undercarriage of the car was thick with oil and grease, which led him to believe that if he were not careful with his torch the boards might catch fire. So he called to his Uncle Bob to stand by with a pail of water, in readiness to help. Then he started to work. Sure enough the oilsoaked boards caught fire and began to smoulder. “Douse her a little”, he shouted from the pit. “It’s getting warm down here.” Uncle Bob got excited and emptied the whole bucketful in one action. Unfortunately, the bucket did not contain water but was full of clear petrol intended for use in cleaning automobile parts. Boom! The whole pit was filled with a sheet of flame.
By a miracle LeTourneau was not injured. He jumped out of the pit and rushed for a fire extinguisher. Poor frightened Uncle Bob soon found another, and between them they were able to put out the fire with very little damage done. But it had been a near thing. Various explanations were put out for LeTourneau’s miraculous escape. The simplest one was that because the car had a canvas top the explosion had gone upwards and away from the pit instead of blowing down the burning boards upon him. So far as he was concerned he knew that he had been saved by the Lord Jesus, and all his thanks were directed towards Him.
The great thing, however, was that he had received an object lesson about the insufficiency of being sincere which served him for the rest of his life. His Uncle Bob loved him and certainly wished him no harm. On the contrary, his eager action had been due to his desire to be helpful. He did not lack in good intentions, but he showed just how wrong even the most sincere man can be. He sincerely believed that what the bucket contained was water which would put out the fire. But he was wrong. The very thing which was intended to bring salvation from danger actually made the danger much worse.
When he tells this story Mr. LeTourneau says [36/37] that he often hears people claiming that God does not mind much what we believe so long as we are sincere. Perhaps you have heard people say the same thing here in England. Perhaps you have thought that it was right and until now have been confident that nothing can harm you so long as you are sincere. When Mr. LeTourneau hears people talking like this he is able to tell them that sincerity is not enough. He should know, for Uncle Bob’s sincerity nearly cost him his life. Not that Uncle Bob was more faulty than other people. Any number of men in the same circumstances might well have made the same mistake. So we must not be led astray by thinking that numbers make any difference. Large numbers of people can be sincere and yet in the end be found to have been wrong.
The important thing to do is to place all our reliance, not on our opinions or feelings, but on certain facts. There can be no doubts about the facts of the Lord Jesus. He is able to deliver us from all danger and to save us from our sins. Mr. LeTourneau proved this for himself and spent his life telling others and seeing the reality of God’s power in their lives. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). – H. F.