You may have heard the story of the man who was trapped in a flood and had a vision of God’s hand reaching down from heaven and lifting him to safety. As the water started to rise in his house, his neighbor urged him to leave, offering a ride out of the danger. When the man responded, “I’m waiting for God to save me,” the puzzled neighbor drove off in his pickup truck.

This man continued to pray and hold on to his vision. As the water rose, engulfing the first floor of his house, he climbed to the roof. A boat came by with some people heading for safe ground. Coming alongside the house, they shouted to the man to climb into the boat with them. He yelled back that he was waiting for God to save him. They shook their heads in disbelief and moved on.

The man continued to pray, believing with all his heart that God would save him. The flood waters continued to rise until only the roof was visible. A helicopter hovered over the nearly submerged house and a voice came over a loudspeaker offering to lower a ladder and take him off the roof. Waving the helicopter away, the man again shouted adamantly that he was waiting for God to save him. The helicopter departed.

Finally, the water rose over the roof, caught him up, and swept him away. He drowned.

When he reached heaven, he indignantly asked, “Lord, why did You not save me? I believed in You with all my heart. Why did You let me drown?” God replied, “I did reach down My hand!—In the form of a pickup truck, a boat, and a helicopter—to lift you to safety, and you refused all of them. What else could I do for you?”

You may be wondering what this crazy story has to do with anything. Hang on and I’ll tell you.

Some years ago, while on a trip, I developed a bad cough, which continued to get worse, despite taking a variety of natural remedies.

After we got home, my husband, Peter, kept trying to persuade me that I should go to the doctor for a checkup. I resisted, as I was sure that the doctor would prescribe medicine, and I wanted to give my natural remedies a chance to work, as I was sure they would. Finally, Peter insisted that I go to the doctor, where X-rays and an examination confirmed that I had bronchitis and was only a couple of days away from having pneumonia.

I finally took the medicine the doctor prescribed, and sure enough, in only a few days my cough was completely cleared up, after weeks of taking natural remedies that were supposed to be effective in getting rid of the bronchitis.

God wanted to teach me something through this. He is not bound to one approach for achieving His purpose of helping us to grow, or even to one method of healing us. We just need to be open and follow His guidance.

Another incident along these lines took place several years later, when I was again away from home.

I woke up one morning with a very stiff neck, and after several days, I still wasn’t able to turn my head. I was having to sleep propped up in a half sitting position because of the pain.

Peter suggested that I see a chiropractor to have it checked, but I resisted, as the thought of having a chiropractor do adjustments on my neck when it was so sore was scary to me.

Several miserable days passed and I finally acquiesced and went to the chiropractor, who turned out to be a very kind, cheerful man. I felt reassured that I would be safe in his hands and that he wasn’t going to damage my neck.

In fact, it barely hurt, and with only one adjustment he pronounced me all better. One of the vertebrae in my neck had gotten a bit out of place and just needed to be realigned.

After having resisted so vehemently going to the chiropractor, I was finally able to lie flat without any pain for the first time in a week.

I’m still learning that when I and others pray for my healing, I can’t ignore the “boats” God brings along that may be the solutions. I can’t decide based on whether I like them or whether they’re inconvenient or don’t sound good to me.

The principle of making wise, prayerful decisions applies to all aspects of our lives. We have to make decisions all the time, and we can’t be stuck in the rut of tenaciously holding on to an approach or mindset just because we’ve used it in the past. There may be some risk and we’ll have to proceed prayerfully and carefully, but we can’t be closed to new things just because there’s a chance that doing something new might not work. We need to be open to God’s guidance and place ourselves in His care.