The Day the Car Caught on Fire (not)

I didn’t notice the smoke seeping from under the hood of my car until it drifted across my windshield. 

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. 

This story is an example of how God doesn’t promise to spare us the trials. He does, however, promise to care for us in the midst of them. If my hose had split in the safety of my driveway, I never would have experienced his provision and care on the side of the interstate that night. Not only did he keep my children and me safe and provide help when we needed it, he gave us a living example of how God the Father cares for us. 

"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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  1. Thank you Lori. Each of your posts is a wonderful part of my morning devotional time. God has had my back in so many ways. One that pops to mind was winter of 93-94. Terrible snow. I was at work and had to pick up my daughter at daycare, she was 5 months old. By then the snow was about 2 feet deep, most secondary state roads not yet plowed. I dropped my boss off at his house then had to quickly think of the best way home with the least # of steep hills. I guessed poorly but I felt God with me as I never let up on the gas in my little Turismo with snow tires. A man along the way, stuck himself called out encouragement as I struggled up a hill. God had my husband home first As I struggled up our big hill, Bill took Taylor from the car as I kept my foot on the brake on the snowy hill. With His help I then reached the top, bailed the car into a neighbor's driveway and just cried. But I felt a warmth of encouragement and love that day that kept me from giving up.

    1. Oh Cheryl, I've lived through a few snowy car trips like that. They are frightening and treacherous. God was so good to you!

  2. Dear Lori
    I don't think it really matter what this gentleman' name was, for in the end we thank our Pappa God from whom all good gifts and blessings flow. Thank you for sharing Mike with us. Who knows, he might just have been Michael, the Archangel...?
    Blessings XX

    1. You're right, Mia. His name doesn't matter 'cause we know who sent him!

  3. Dear Lori
    I don't think it really matter what this gentleman' name was, for in the end we thank our Pappa God from whom all good gifts and blessings flow. Thank you for sharing Mike with us. Who knows, he might just have been Michael, the Archangel...?
    Blessings XX

  4. I'm so glad that God never leaves us or forsakes us . . and that he sent the nice truck driver to help you! The post I wrote for today and just linked is about a fire, as well.

    Glad it was only steam! Great post!!

  5. Hi Lori! What a story! God, the protector in the body of Mike (the Archangel!). The Lord wanted you to be so safe. I loved the part of the strong arms coming in to take your daughter. I was a little scared at first, but then, a miracle!

    i think God sends me good people to talk to in the midst of my problems. They give me perspective and help me out of my tough situation. Maybe the situation doesn't change, maybe I have to...but it's a great movement of care.

    Thank you for visiting me today ! I love meeting other Christian bloggers :)

    1. Veil, kind, listening friends truly are gifts from God. They rescue us almos as dramatically as Mike did! Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your thoughts today :)

  6. What a story! Some people would call it dumb luck - I agree with you - God was watching out. And I think Mia may be onto something... who knows that your truck driver wasn't an angel...

  7. Simply beautiful!
    I am amazed at how our God always makes sure there is someone there for us in times like that.

  8. Yes, Lori, I have been there myself...except that the car really WAS on fire, and I had 5 children in the car! Amazingly, we were able to put the fire out quickly, and everyone was fine.

    I love the application you drew from your experience. We go on our merry way, enjoying life, and then something happens - and smoke begins to pour out. It's good to remember that it's important not to panic, but to move quickly, pray, and trust God.

    Thank you for your insight!


  9. That's what trials are for. They push you over the wall, so you will find your strength and discover your limits, as basis in how you will confront the everyday. With this, you ought to stick with the means that are proven and tested, or that you're sure wouldn't give you much of a problem --- including the car that you will use in the morning. Hope that your problem has been dealt with for you to not worry about anything catching on fire.

    Rigoberto @ Brandon Dodge On Broadway

  10. Lori, your story is so encouraging. When I was fourteen, I had three surgeries on my legs. After spending several months at the hospital, I was discharged with cast on each leg. My tibia--larger shin bone--had a crack. Doctors still discharged me, because they had to meet a certain quota. We, me and my mom, had to take a 3 hour bus ride to the airport. It wasn't safe to take cab.
    At that time I was living in Russia, until the age of seventeen. It was late December. We were two hours by walk from the airport.
    Ten minutes later, after we got off the bus, a car pulled over. The driver offered us ride to the airport.
    Needless to say, we arrived safely. He even helped us with bags.