The Testimony Of Russell O’Quinn: A Case Of The Buts
Posted by Job on May 18, 2007
I’m not a preacher or theologian. In fact, I only have life experiences from which to speak. My message has to do with two men used by God. The first man was Moses, an 80 year old man living in the desert of Midian, who was given a huge task by God. The second man is a much younger man who got a bright idea just as impossible as Moses, if not even more impossible. Now Moses argued with God when he got his task, and I think he had a right to! He was 80 years old, out in the middle of the desert, with nothing more than a stick and a bunch of sheep. Yet God gave him the responsibility of going up against one of the most powerful rulers and leading more than two million people out from under his hand and into the Promised Land.
When God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, He told him that he was on holy ground and to remove his sandals, and that’s when things really came to a screeching halt. When God told him what He wanted him to do, Moses began with what I call the “but? but? buts.” First, he told God that he wasn’t a speaker. And God answered him in sending Aaron his spokesperson. Next, he said there were men back in Egypt who wanted to kill him. And God said “I’ll take care of you.” And, finally he said “Well, I’m not a great man, by any means,” and God gave him a very significant answer. God said, “What is that in thine hand?” And Moses looked at it, and it was an ordinary staff that he used to shepherd the sheep. In fact, I’m sure that Moses said, “Hey, God, it’s nothing but a stick!” And God said, “Throw it on the ground.” And God used that ordinary stick in miraculous ways.
Now I do not want you to get the idea that I’m boasting. I want this next man … me … to be an example. I was starting off with my own bright idea, bull-headed and self-centered, and about every other name you could mention. I got the bright idea that I could start the first civilian company specifically aimed at providing high-performance flight test services. At the very start, it was obvious that I was not a businessman and was having financial troubles.
As I sat at my desk one evening trying to balance the books, I earnestly prayed that God would somehow not only save this business, but He would use me. The phone rang and my burning bush arrived. It was in the form of a request by a local newspaper reporter. For years local businessmen had been trucking supplies to the Navaho Indians in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. That year, however, they couldn’t due to the worst blizzard in recorded history. They asked if I would take my DC-3 cargo plane and fly 7000 pounds of toys, food, and clothes to the reservation in Window Rock, Arizona. I quickly began my own “but, but, buts!”
I said, “You know this airplane burns an enormous amount of fuel, and I haven’t got enough fuel to make it.” He said, “Well, would you give me 15 minutes?” And 15 minutes later, he called back and said “I’ve got Standard Oil on the line, and they’re willing to donate all the fuel that you need.” Well my next “but” was, “The airport is under about two feet of snow!” And he replied, “Well, would you be willing to stay in your office for another 15 minutes?” Calling me back, he said, “Well, I’ve got the governor of the state of Arizona on the phone, and as we speak, they’re grading off the runway at Window Rock.” And finally, I’d been thinking and said, “Well, I’ve got to have a flight and ground crew and other support team members.” He said, “Well, would you be willing to stay in your office another 15 minutes?” Sure enough, he called back, and he said, “McDonnell Douglas is willing to donate all the crews that you need.”
He added, “So, what else have you got?” He had run me out of gas! We arrived at the Indian reservation with that first 7,000 pounds of supplies, and as I made the low pass, I saw ice on the runway. As I aligned this 35,000 pound cargo plane to touch down, a cross wind got me and the plane started going sideways down the runway. After some maneuvering, we finally stopped. The crew came up in the flight deck and said, “That’s the most amazing display of airmanship we’ve ever seen.” And I said, “Oh, it’s just something we test pilots do, you know.” What they didn’t know is that my knees were shaking so bad, I couldn’t get out of my seat. And, instead of just a few Indians there, there were over 200 that had come at the risk of their own lives. We heard stories of Indians literally starving to death from lack of supplies. For the next 10 days, we wound up flying almost around the clock.
An Indian guide assigned to me remarked one day, “I understand you’re a Christian.” I said “Yes,” and he said “I am, too, and I want you to know that my people will never forget what you have done.” And at that moment, I knew that God had taken a stick and used it in an extraordinary way. I was like Moses, kicking and screaming all the way, and yet I didn’t have anything to do with it! He can accomplish unbelievable things, if you will simply commit it to Him. I’m now 78 years old. This may be my last year flying, and I’ve got another wild idea. My wife just trembles every time I say that. But God has used the stick he has given me. And I want you to know that I don’t care how little of a stick you may hold, God can indeed accomplish great things with it if you commit it to Him.
For more information about Russell O’Quinn, please visit www.russelloquinn.com.