Driving down the interstate on my way to church one Wednesday night, I had one eye on the road and the other on the rear view mirror. My 3-year-old was entertaining her infant sister in the car seat next to her, and I was listening in.
It wasn’t long, however, before there was enough smoke to attract the notice of even the most distracted driver.
FIRE! I thought silently, conscious of the tiny girls behind me. Images of explosive car blazes I’d seen on TV flooded my mind. Fear like birth pangs clutched hard at my gut. I have to get them out! Help me, Lord!
Swerving hard to the right, I brought the car to a stop on the grassy shoulder of the interstate, and the smell of burning rubber added to the billowing clouds that now surrounded me. Cars whizzed past as I flung open first my door and then the one behind me.
“Unbuckle your seat belt,” I barked at my toddler as my fingers fumbled with the clasp that held her baby sister's car seat down. Swallowing the panic that rose like bile in my throat, I punched hard at the latch, and the buckle gave way.
Relief and fear caused me to jerk the seat too hard, startling the baby as the seat slammed roughly against the door frame. Her cry further frightened her wide-eyed sister, still struggling to unbuckle the belt her mother usually forbade her from touching.
Racing blindly around the back of the car, I deposited my screaming infant on the grassy shoulder and turned back. My toddler’s shrill wails pierced the night as she climbed unsteadily from her seat.
“Here Sweetie,” I called, reaching and running toward her, but before her feet touched the grass, strong arms scooped her up and deposited her safely into my arms. I sank on wobbly knees to the ground and clutched my daughter hard. Tears of relief trickled silently down my cheeks.
I later learned that Mike*, a long-haul truck driver with Southeastern Freight Lines, had seen smoke oozing from beneath my hood even before I had. Not wanting to frighten the children with his horn, he silently pulled in behind my car and waited for me to notice the smoke. As soon as I pulled off the interstate, he followed. Jumping from his truck, he plucked my frightened daughter from the car and handed her to me.
Within minutes the kind truck driver determined that steam, not smoke, was erupting from my engine, and my heart slowly returned to its normal rhythm.
Mike radioed his dispatcher, who ordered a tow truck. His manager arrived in the company vehicle and sat with me until the tow truck came. Confident we were in good hands, Mike tipped his hat and was gone. He had a load to deliver, and Atlanta was four hours away.
My life is like that car ride sometimes.
I’m cruising along happily until something goes up in smoke (or steam). And while I’d prefer to skip the drama, it doesn’t always happen that way. My radiator hose could have leaked quietly on the driveway in plain sight of my husband on a day I didn’t go anywhere. Instead, it burst in a steamy display that rivaled Old Faithful.
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;” the Lord says, “I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you” (Isaiah 43:1-4).
I’m thankful that God, like my truck driver friend, has my back.
Have you experienced God’s provision and care in the midst of a crisis? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below and join the conversation.
*I don't remember my rescuer's name, but the Lord does. I used Mike in this story because he reminded me of Michael the archangel doing God's work on the earth.
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