You are about to hear the remarkable story of a man who believed God and took Him at His Word. In today’s vernacular we would call it extreme faith. Grover Cannon tells his story as he lived it, with homespun honesty, wry humor, and simple believing faith. He was not a professional speaker. He rarely spoke in public. Fortunately, this talk was recorded by a friend. If you are not sitting, we advise you to do just that. Grover’s story, or should we say stories, will not leave you the same. As Grover himself would teasingly caution, the things you are about to hear may be hazardous to your economy and your spiritual life. Here is Grover Cannon:
I was brought up in church and sometimes I’m asked when I was saved. I was saved so many times I don’t know which time I was saved. Lot of you know what I mean if you were brought up in a Christian family and church and went to church all your life. I went to camp meetings and I went to every revival and I went to the altar every time. But I think back when I was around sixteen, I can’t remember a definite time when I was saved but then I was warmed up several times after that at revival meetings.
I went through high school in the State of Washington in the town of Wenatchee. Not long after I was out of high school I joined the Washington State Patrol. What got me into that was that I was a motorcycle nut. I got stopped twice by a State Patrolman for stunting on the highway, standing on the seat and riding. I’ve got pictures I show my kids of me standing up on the seat with my hands straight out riding a motorcycle. I don’t recommend them doing it. I got stopped several times by State Patrol and finally one day a fellow said to me, “Cannon, you ought to join the State Patrol and get this motorcycle stuff out of your system.” In the old days back in ’36 most of the troopers rode cycles.
I did get on the patrol and worked on the State Patrol for six years. Then I left there and joined Boeing Aircraft Co. There’s where one of the first miracles of my life took place. Now up to this time I was a nominal Christian. I warmed the seat and put in a dollar once on a while and didn’t get too excited about it. But Boeing Aircraft Co. sent me to Atlanta in 1944 to direct the hiring program down here. Now in those days the aircraft companies were assigned certain territories in the United States to hire people. And I was assigned six southern states and I had about ten men working for me. My headquarters was in Atlanta. We were given certain hiring policies by Boeing and we worked out of the United States employment office in six southern states. One of my boys was working in Birmingham, Alabama and called me one day and said, “I’m in hot water. They’ve told me if I don’t change my hiring practices they’re going to kick us out of this office and prefer charges against Boeing Aircraft Co.” It would have got the company in trouble and me too.
So, I called the manager of the employment office up there and I tried to reason with him over the phone and he was a very outspoken fellow and he frankly cussed me out over the phone and told me what he thought and slammed the receiver. So I didn’t get very far. And I don’t remember, up to that time, of really seriously praying about things. I was staying in the Henry Grady Hotel at that time I went back to the hotel room and I knelt down at the bed and I said, “Now Lord, I’m in a jam and I’m about to get my company into a jam and I don’t know what to do about it. And I just pray that you help me out of this jam and if possible change the mind of that manager up there in Birmingham.”
The next morning I got up and this boy up in Birmingham that was working for me called me and said, “What happened anyway?” And I said, “Well, what did happen?” He said, “Did you call the company?” And I said, “No.” And he said, “Well, this manager came in this morning and apologized to me and told me I could stay in Birmingham as long as I wanted to and apologized for the way he talked to us and everything was rosy.” Well, God just changed that man overnight just like that. Just through prayer. That really shook me up. That was one of the first really outstanding miracles in my life. I remember that if I had never been saved, I got saved then. I really surrendered everything to the Lord, lock, stock, and barrel. From that time on my life was different.
I went back to Seattle to Boeing and shortly after that the war was beginning to come to a close and I bought a little store in front of a big high school. A Kind of confectionary and stationary store and operated that for five years. The first day I was in that store a man came in selling Bibles. Up to that time I’d read the Bible like most Christians. I’d walk over and pick it up and open it and if something looks good, well, that sounds pretty good for today. If it didn’t sound good, I’d look around till it did sound good. That was about as much Bible reading as I did. I bought this Bible from this salesman and I made a covenant to myself that I was going to read one chapter a day in that Bible every day if it killed me ‘till I read the Bible through. I had Bibles around the house like most of you had but never had read it through. So like I was going to take vitamin pills everyday I was going to read one chapter a day.
So every night when the store closed I’d go down in the basement I’d sit down and I’d started reading this Bible. I started right in on Genesis. I read things in there that were so amazing that I couldn’t hardly believe it. I remember saying out loud some nights,” God, if this is true, then this is fantastic.” Then I’d say,” It has to be true, it’s the Bible.” I got so interested in reading the Bible many nights I sat all night long ‘till daylight and never let up. Just read all night long. Let me just say this. Many of you have never read the Bible through and you’re missing something. You don’t know God until you’ve read the Bible completely through. The Old Testament will give you an insight into God and His nature and how He deals with man that even the New Testament will never give you. And it’s just fantastic.
Before you die be sure to read the Bible through because it would be embarrassing to get to heaven and say, “Lord I know that was a great book you sent us, but I was so busy I didn’t have time to read it.” That would be embarrassing wouldn’t it. Start in and just read it through. There was a lot of things that I didn’t understand but it wasn’t the things that I didn’t understand that bothered me but it was the things I did understand that bothered me. There’s plenty in there that you will understand. It’s an amazing experience.
I began to read wild things in there like this: John 14:13-”And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name I will do it.” That’s weird. Just listen to that. If ye shall ask anything in my name I will do it. I read that and I thought my goodness, the Lord sure stuck His neck out when He put that in there.
I began to read all this stuff and I was running this little store and it was right at the closing of the war and I was still on rationing on a lot of things. Now, for an example, at this little school store I sold about forty or fifty cases of soda pop a day. It was a pretty good little store. Back then it was grossing about three hundred dollars a day but a lot of that was soda pop and stuff like that. One day I ran out and I phoned all my sources in Seattle to try to get some more pop and I couldn’t get it. I called every company even the ones I didn’t deal with to try to get some more coca-cola, or orange, grape or something. The kids were going to be there that afternoon when school was out and want more pop. I only had about an hour to rustle it.
After I had called and exhausted all the resources trying to find it, then I decided, well I’ll pray about it. Because I’d been reading these wild statements that God had made in the Bible. If you’d ask anything He’d do it. I knelt down in the back of the store in a little room and said, “Now Lord, this is a stupid thing to pray for but I need soda pop and I don’t need it next week. I’ve got some coming. I need it within the next hour.” I really prayed it kind of cynically. It’s an impossible thing to do, but I’m just going to pray for it anyway because I’ll just find out that He doesn’t do it and that will settle that scripture, anyway. That’s kind of the way I prayed. I don’t recommend that. In fact some of the things I’m going to say tonight, I’m going to give you a warning, it may be hazardous to your economy and to your spiritual life. I knelt down and said, “I need soda pop and I don’t need it next week I need it within the next hour.”
I got up off my knees and I walked out into the store and as I came in the back door a truck driver came into the front door and we met right in the middle of the store and he had a bottle of some kind of soft drink in his hand. There sat a truck load right in front of the store. Soda Pop. He said, “Are you the Manager? Would you be interested in buying some soft drinks?” I hadn’t even brushed the dust off from my knees yet. I said, “I’ll take the whole load.” He was kind of shocked by that and he said, “I’ll call my boss and see what he says.” So he called his boss and his boss said, “Give him twenty five cases and you can bring him a whole load the next morning.” Now what it was, they were a new company and they had bought out a brewery and converted the sugar of the brewery to soft drinks and they were out soliciting business and they weren’t even in the phone book. That’s why I couldn’t find them. They’re called the Quench company and they’re still in business out there. So, I had all the soda pop I wanted and I had so much that I loaned some to my other friends that ran school stores.
A lot of Christians believe that it’s not right to ask God for material things. I was in a Sunday School class one time in a church where a fellow was teaching that God has promised to save your soul and give you eternal life but that’s all He has promised you. He hasn’t promised you any material things, or physical blessing, and if people go into poverty they have to make the best of it. I felt like standing up and saying you’re wrong, but I didn’t. A lot of people are afraid to pray for things. I began to learn that God would answer pray for anything. Just like He said, “If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
About this time I had an argument with a friend of mine in Seattle who was a very fine Christian and doing a very fine work, but we argued about what it meant to live by faith. He was taking offerings and writing letters and begging people for money and yet he said he was living by faith. And I said, “Well if that’s faith, that’s the same as the March of Dimes or anybody else, you know they’re living by faith too. To me to live by faith was to only ask God. We used to argue about that, but I couldn’t argue too strong because he was coming closer to it than I was. He was in full time Christian work and I wasn’t. In the back of my mind I had this desire to kind of prove my theory.
About that time, I’d been in this little store five years and it was going pretty good but some friends of mine called me from Colorado and wanted me to come over there and help them with a little mission. They didn’t call me first. They wrote me a letter. I read the letter and it didn’t impress me too much. Then I got to thinking about it and one day I said to the Lord, “Now Lord, if you want me to go to Colorado and help these people with this mission, you cause that phone to ring in the next fifteen minutes and then call me. And, if they call me by the phone in the next fifteen minutes I’ll go and if they don’t,” then I said, “Lord forget it because I’m not going to go.” I want you to know that in five minutes after I prayed that way the phone rang and so I told my wife we’re going to sell out and go to Colorado.