From: Christian Stories of Wisdom
A priest had shut himself in his cell to write a sermon on divine providence.
Suddenly he heard an explosion. The dam that protected the small town had just given way and the river burst its banks in a roar of flood water that swept along everything in its path.
The priest, distraught, was about to give way to panic when he caught sight of his sermon on divine providence. He pulled himself together and calmed down.
The village was flooded and most people stayed cloistered indoors. Some of them, however, did venture out, waist-deep in water, in search of help. A rescue boat soon arrived under the presbytery windows.
The rowers called out to the priest, gesticulating to him.
“No, no,” he said to them, “this is the moment to believe in divine providence. I am staying where I am, without attempting to flee, and I shall pray. God will save me.”
The water rose and reached the level of his window. He noticed a small boat making its way to him from a considerable distance. The rescuers could barely keep on course on the turbulent river, but they managed to get through. They shouted, “We have come to fetch you.” And they reached out their hands to him.
“No, no,” said the priest. “I trust that God will save me.”
But the water continued to flood everything in the valley. The priest had to climb upward, and he soon found himself on the roof of the church.
Other boats were launched to save the remaining survivors. When these rescuers caught sight of the churchman perched on the steeple, they called out to him:
“Hurry, Father! Get in!”
“No,” replied the priest. “I thank you, but divine providence is infinite. God will save me.”
So the boat moved away. The level of the water continued to rise. Soon the man had nothing left to cling to.
For a while he tried to keep his head above water, but his strength wore away. He disappeared under the waves, and drowned.
Hardly was he dead than he arrived in paradise. He was beside himself. Furious. Without waiting to be announced, he barged his way in to see the Almighty.
“I preach divine providence, my Lord; I believe in you with all my soul, and what happened…Nothing!”
“What do you mean, nothing? I sent you three boats and you wouldn’t get into any of them!”