STRADDLING AN ICE BLOCK

Headed east out of Canada in cold weather, traffic was heavy, and I fell in behind a semi-trailer truck, with vehicles vying for position in lanes on both sides. Suddenly, a hunk of ice came bouncing toward us. It may have fallen from the truck or another vehicle ahead of us. There was no way to avoid hitting it (or being hit by it) without side-swiping another car in a parallel lane.

The ice block probably measured about 10”x10”x20” – a rather large obstacle. I did not want to hit it dead center with my radiator, the engine oil pan, or the transmission, so I swerved slightly left, staying in my lane. It broke the fiberglass faux-bumper, taking out a section of the bumper and protective shield, and passing underneath just inside the front wheel and tire. We heard and felt the bump and crunch as we sailed over it.

I pulled off into the breakdown lane as soon as possible to see how much damage was done. Amazingly, we were not losing any coolant or oil. However, though the the contact appeared to be limited to the right side of the car, the entire left turn signal unit had popped out. It had to be replaced later with a recycled part from a salvage yard. Using some bungee cords from the trunk, I wired up the damaged parts so they wouldn’t drag or interfere with moving parts, and we continued our trip.

Another dangerous situation survived!

The Lord has protected us from many potentially disastrous collisions, and provided repairs in a hundred impossible situations. We’ve often commented about the high risk duty our guardian angels have given us.

Travel by automobile has been a main feature of our lifestyle for five decades, covering about 2.5 million miles as we criss-crossed the United States in cars or pickup trucks, sometimes pulling travel trailers. By far, the majority of churches gave us a lump-sum love offering, without consideration for travel expense, wear and tear, or replacement costs. Still, He is our Provider and Protector.

Memories in Oak

Oak, Nebraska in 1976 was a village serviced by no paved roads in any direction. I was a fledgling evangelist, living in Colorado. One of the worst blizzards hit on Saturday, nearly blocking Interstate 76, and I drove my 1956 Chevy to the meeting, leaving our better car for my wife. Snowplows had opened a path the width of one car through some drifts, so traffic would gather, waiting for oncoming vehicles to clear the way. I could not get through until Sunday, and due to delays and crossing into the earlier time zone, I found myself behind schedule to arrive in time for the Sunday evening service, but I raced on and came into the meeting while the congregation was singing. The pastor introduced me with some relief, and I preached the opening service without our usual musical segment.

It would have been acceptable to delay arrival, and nobody would have been surprised if I had postponed the meeting. Like many places I frequented, it was off the beaten path, and often overlooked by other evangelists.

An elderly couple came from Nelson, Nebraska to attend one night of the meeting. When I gave the altar call, they made their way down the aisle together as I stood in front of the communion table, pleading with the audience to come, to trust Christ. They were in their late 70’s. They said they had never made any profession of faith before, although both had entertained the idea since their youth, when they had attended revivals, some 50 years before. The pastor and I met with them in a side room, where they prayed one by one, sweetly receiving the Savior. What if I had refused to go to Oak, hoping for a bigger venue elsewhere?

I spoke to students at the elementary school, which still had a tunnel-type fire escape from a second floor window. Even in those days, opportunities for a preacher to speak in a public school were being discouraged by the public educational establishment. As I stood before them, I could only recall one time during my elementary days at Springer School District #7 in Scottsbluff County, Nebraska, when a children’s evangelist did a magic show and explained God’s plan of salvation.

Who were those students listening to my ditties, amused by the antics and spontaneity of the young evangelist? Perhaps a boy, who would lose his life in the first Gulf War? A girl who would die in an auto accident before graduating from high school? A child already imbibing the evolutionary philosophy that has since led so many into the paths of agnosticism, narcissism, addiction, and humanism? Maybe one became a missionary whose life has influenced thousands in some foreign land? Only Eternity will tell. Meanwhile, it is our duty to be faithful, through dangers, toils, and snares.

Winter Dangers & Snares

WINTER DANGERS & SNARES

Holidays present unusual and sometimes harrowing experiences. Casey purchased airfare to Jacksonville to depart after midnight shift at the hospital intensive care unit. The plan was to maximize income and time off. The 2004 Christmas storm immobilized Paducah, closing I-24 with 21 inches of snow, while over 400 automobile accidents piled up. It ain’t Minneapolis, y’know! Casey’s pal, Chris took him to Nashville’s airport on his way to Georgia. Four wheel drive took them through Paris, Tennessee avoiding the interstate.

 

Nashville airport was closed, full of travelers, and flights grounded. Merry Christmas! . . . No room in the inn. Over an hour later, they got a ticket from Atlanta to Gainesville, Florida only 50 miles from our home. Chris took him on to Atlanta, and I found him in the waiting area, trying to remedy his recent bout with self-induced sleep deprivation.

 

Earlier battles with the elements loom on memory’s horizon. In early evangelistic work, Donna Toews was our pianist, traveling with us from Denver. We finished eight days in North Platte, Nebraska on a Sunday night. A winter storm was on its way, but I insisted we had to get back to Denver, a five hour drive at the old 55 mph speed. We were all exhausted, and by Julesburg, visibility succumbed to a ground blizzard. I kept falling prey to road hypnotism, staring into the relentless wall of driven snow. Sharen, my faithful copilot repeatedly exhorted me to “Wake up!” Traffic vanished. Very late, we maneuvered through rising drifts into Sterling, renting the last motel room in town. Next day, four foot drifts kept us captive until afternoon when snowplows facilitated our escape.

 

Once, on our way from Cheyenne to Casper, we discovered the snow gate across I-25 blocking our path at Wheatland. Again, unexpected motel and restaurant expenses mounted while we waited.

 

In South Dakota, we ran into snow between Sioux Falls and Platte. We crawled along 15 mph with our windows open to see the marker posts. Sharen kept watch on the passenger side while I tried to keep the intermittent center line in view. We prayed that traffic would see us, that we would not be rear-ended, nor suffer a head-on collision. In Platte, we collapsed in the only room to be obtained. The road was finally plowed but we found only one lane of traffic through drifts three times the height of our car.

 

One November, we headed north from Denver to join my parents, aunt and uncle in Cheyenne for Thanksgiving. We stopped in Northglenn to pick up a few items at about sundown. Snow started falling as we left there. Approaching Loveland, I found my van losing traction on every slight rise in the road, and decided we’d better stop and wait for daylight. Our furnace in the trailer had been cantankerous, and we knew it might not heat properly. At Johnson’s Corner, a new campground was under construction. Snow was piling up relentlessly, so I navigated toward the main building trying to maintain speed, hoping to plug in and utilize our space heater. We spun out and halted, stuck in a drift. I retrieved 25 and 50 foot extension cords, strung them end to end through the snow, and barely reached an outlet on the veranda of the building. Praise God! It worked. Next morning, snow was drifted to the roof of the trailer. I walked to the truck stop and phoned my parents. (Aren’t cell phones a blessing?) I scooped snow and got the van out, leaving the trailer and a note to the campground proprietor. Sharen counted 104 cars wrecked or abandoned between there and Cheyenne. In Cheyenne, we walked through waist high snow the last half mile to our destination.

 

Anyone have ideas about my wife’s stress-related health problems?  Yes, we’ve known stress, but the amazing thing is that God has carried us safely through many dangers, toils, and snares!