11-04-2018 God's Constant Protection


November 04, 2018


I was reflecting back this week on some of the adventures I experienced during my 49 years of designing power lines. In doing so, my conclusion was that we often fail to see God’s hand of protection while “in the moment”. Fortunately, God has given us a memory that enables us to recall and honor Him through our recollection and sharing. My years in the workplace were no different… wow, did I miss honoring God so many times.


I started my secular career in 1967 at Commonwealth Associates, an engineering firm, in Jackson, MI. I had just returned from Alaska after spending the summer commercial fishing with a missionary friend on Bristol Bay and this new job was a fresh start. Like so many workers at that time, my career starting out at the very bottom of the ladder. I can vividly recall my very first day… how I was determined that I would work hard… learn everything I could… and take every opportunity offered. My reward was quick advancement and multiplied responsibility. By the late 1970’s I was placed into a supervisory position.


My first major challenge came in 1976 with the design the 2nd direct current power line to be constructed in the U.S. (the most common type was and remains alternating current but there are economic benefits in using direct current over long miles). My privilege was to be the Supervisory Designer for the 430-mile line which began in Bismarck, ND and ended just north of Minneapolis, MN.


Design took 2 years and finally, in 1978 construction began. As Lead Designer my responsibility during the construction phase included making trips every couple of weeks to the field for construction conformance inspections. Things went well in North Dakota but when the construction crews crossed the Minnesota state line the gates of hell broke open.


The residents of Minnesota did not want the line in any way shape or form. Their response was to form an extremely large resistance group. That group had no issue with physical violence and quickly proved so. In fact, the daily interference became so severe that the Governor was forced to declare an emergency and assign all construction crews, survey crews and field engineers State Police bodyguards. These officers lodged in the same hotels with us, ate in the same restaurants alongside us and followed us daily in the field. Their assignment was to protect us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


With their presence, events stayed pretty much under control until a cold day in the winter of 1979. Myself and another designer was checking survey with one of our survey crews when a group of protesters, estimated at 400, surrounded us in an open corn field. Immediately they began an attempt to destroy the survey equipment while threatening us with physical violence if we interfered. In a matter of minutes 52 state police vehicles appeared on site. The officers immediately surrounded us with a human wall who themselves was surrounded by a wall of protesters. It was then that the officers broke us loose from the crowd and moved us into our vehicles.


To make a long story short if, in your mind’s eye you can envision our 4 vehicles traveling the icy farm roads of Minnesota at high speeds with 26 State police cars in front of us and 26 behind us… that was us. (I have pictures to this day). After about 45 minutes of this mad dash our escort reached the county jail, where we were escorted into the jail (not cells) and held until the protest group dispersed. As I look back, God kept us safe from not only the protesters but also the dangers of the drive.


Before that project was completed there would be 3 occasions that I had rifle rounds fired in my direction. On one occasion in particular the rounds were close enough to hear the “zing” of the bullet as they passed us. Another occasion I was chased through a field by a speeding tractor and was physically threatened multiple times. Yet God’s hand was always on us… His protection kept us safe.


If that wasn’t enough, as that project wound down, I was assigned to a project for the Government of Iran. Our contract assigned us numerous powerline projects for design and construction management. To accomplish this, we stationed engineers and field crews on site in Iran.


As I recall it was sometime in September of 1979 that I was asked if I would consider going to Tehran to work out of the client’s office checking drawings. As I said earlier, I took advantage of every opportunity so I agreed to go and the trip was set for October. Unexpectedly though, just before I was scheduled to leave, the trip was concealed. Unknown to me at that time, once again, it was the hand of God.


You see, on November 4th of 1979 university students in Tehran stormed the US Embassy and 444 days of captivity began for 52 US hostages. If I had traveled as scheduled, I would have been right in the middle of all that turmoil. As it was, one of our field personnel and his wife escaped Iran by being smuggled out of the country hidden in the bottom of an ox cart. Again, God’s hand surrounded and protected.


These were not isolated occurrences and over the years additional projects and added events took place that still encourages me to remember God’s protection. A project in New York where the sheriff took us aside and warned us of a property owner he suspected of murder and strongly advised that we avoid lone contact with him… a project in the City of Cleveland where our first day included tutoring on to how to identify and understand the meaning of gang graffiti so we wouldn’t be caught alone and become a victim… wolf packs in Alaska… and water moccasins in Florida are all reminders of God’s grace.


It was an interesting career and God deserves full credit for protecting me every step of the way. He is always faithful.


2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NASB)
3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

Thank you for your faithfulness. Pastor Larry