by Linda Nathan
Are angels real?
I peered out of the antique store at the fat white flakes that had begun falling only an hour ago. Foolishly, I had decided to spend more time browsing the stores in the picturesque Dutch town of Lynden, Washington, instead of heading home before dark. Now this sudden snowfall surprised me. It was early this year. As I quickly gathered my packages, I thought about the treacherous road home out of the valley into the Mount Baker foothills where we lived near the town of Maple Falls. In the best of weather it would take half an hour. But this was already the worst weather I’d seen in quite a while.
Alarmed, I began the long drive home in my old 1989 Volvo sedan amidst sleeting winds and gathering darkness. The stretch of open highway across the valley was bad enough—the winds rocked even my tank-like car. But I knew it was going to get far worse up ahead when I began climbing into the foothills on Reese Hill Road with its dangerous hairpin curve. It’s a beautiful drive in good weather, but in bad weather, its hairpin curve is very dangerous for it’s situated right where the highway turns steep. I pondered this for a while and prayed whether to attempt it or to go around another way. But any other way would take hours, and I needed to get home. My health was precarious, and my food and water were running low.
At the time, I was recovering from a devastating breakdown of my immune system that had caused me to lose fifty pounds and nearly die. The ordeal had lasted over a year and a half, but by the grace of God I’d survived and was slowly improving. I was still quite sensitive to many foods and environmental conditions though. Today’s trip had been a special treat. I’d actually been able to endure the musty air in the antique shop without getting sick and bought some beautiful candleholders. But now my fling worried me. Maybe I’d been too hasty going so far from home in November.
Then—there it was—just ahead, nearly lost in the blizzard.
The road up into the foothills.
As I began my ascent, the scene confronting me confirmed my worst fears. Peering through the snowstorm, I could see the hairpin turn up ahead and just beyond that, over a dozen cars that had failed to make the turn piled helter-skelter along its snowy banks. And I was already halfway up the first hill out of the valley.
There was nowhere to turn around, and it was too late to turn back. I had to make a rapid decision. And I did.
Grimly, I gunned the motor with a panicky burst of energy, hoping to make it past the stranded vehicles.
But as I skidded into the icy curve, my Volvo spun out of control and lurched nose first to the right into a ditch under a large tree right on the cusp of the curve, its rear end pointing directly into the middle of the hairpin turn. Approaching cars could crash right into me, and every driver coming up the hill behind me seemed to have the same idea—to pour on the gas to make it around that curve. I was sure one would smash into me at any moment.
Lord Jesus Christ, I gasped, my heart pounding in my throat. You said not to be anxious about anything . . . to lift our requests to you with praise and thanksgiving . . . Please rescue me, Lord!
Within minutes, several men appeared who pushed the back end of my car out of the highway and into the ditch. My pounding heart slowed down, and I began to breathe more easily. The whole car now rested in the ditch, leaning sideways against the tree, but it was still protruding somewhat dangerously on the cusp of the curve. It was getting dark, visibility was low, and though the snowstorm was abating slightly, snow was piling up. Behind me traffic was still hurtling up the hill and skidding around that hairpin turn and into the snowbanks.
But for the moment I was safe. And I had heat and lights. With a borrowed cell phone, I reached Triple A and also left a frantic call for prayer on a friend’s answering machine. There was nothing else I could do, so I settled in to read my Bible, pray, and wait.
But as time passed and evening turned into a dark and ominous night, I grew antsy. My gas was running out and soon my heat and light would be gone. It would be cold—very cold. I needed food—and not just any food but my limited special diet. And Triple A had said it would be a long wait.
And praised the Lord.
And finally, receiving no sense of direction after hours, I decided I had to act. I thrust the Bible aside and made a desperate decision on my own.
I would try to go back down the hill I had come up, then turn south across the valley floor. Probably by now that highway was snowed in, but if it weren’t, maybe I could cross the valley and reach the Mount Baker Highway. That would take me up to Maple Falls another much longer way—but, even assuming I made it safely back down the hill, it would be a roundabout and possibly dangerous trip that could take hours.
If I made it at all…
Okay. Enough of this, I thought. I can’t wait any longer. I have to act.
I weighed my steps.
First, I had to edge the car in reverse backward into the highway’s hairpin curve, then cautiously turn and aim down the hill—hoping no one suddenly roared up the icy hill out of the snowy night and crashed into me as I was turning on the curve. And then I had to maneuver down that icy hill. That had its own problems because there was a steep wooded ravine on one side of the road and a deep ditch on the other. Even a gentle skid on that icy road could slide me right into one gulch or the other.
Or I could hit another car head on that was barreling blindly up the hill.
Or I could plunge off the side of the road down to the valley floor…
What was I thinking?
But, I argued with myself, I was hungry and tired of waiting, and my heater was going to quit soon. I pondered, struggled, gripped the wheel, and prayed a final prayer.
Then just as I turned on the ignition, two young men appeared at my window. The closest one had on a ski cap and a blue parka
“We’ll lift your car out,” he said. “Once you’re on the road, just put it in low, accelerate, and keep going up the hill. You’ll be fine.”
As I stared at them incredulously, a truck appeared, depositing a layer of gravel over the icy road. Then the Triple A tow truck arrived behind it.
The man at my window repeated his instructions.
What can I lose? I thought. Maybe it’ll work. It sounded a lot easier than my plan.
I smiled. “Okay, thanks.”
They each went to an opposite end of my car, and with one heave, it was out of the ditch and on the road, pointed uphill. I let out a deep breath, accelerated, and, sure enough, I was free! As I mounted the hill, I looked for the two men among all the cars in the snowbanks on the edge of the road to wave a thank you, but they had disappeared. Funny—I’d thought they’d be helping others. It seemed a little odd—after all, there was nowhere for them to go—but I just kept going and didn’t give it any further thought.
That night I told my husband about my adventure.
Richard eyed me, frowning slightly. “Did you say two young men lifted your car out of that ditch with one heave?”
“Yes, that’s what happened.”
“And you said they were slender? Slight build?”
“Right, yeah. Pleasant looking guys. Kind of nondescript.”
Richard stared at me.
“Do you know that your Volvo weighs around three thousand pounds? Two of the world’s biggest weightlifters couldn’t lift it, let alone on an icy hill where it’s tilted sideways against a tree in a ditch.”
It began to dawn on me what he was saying. God had answered my prayer for rescue. I hadn’t had to try to do it myself…
We stared at each other, goose bumps rising.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:11 ESV
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Scripture references marked NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV. Copyright (c) 1973 1978 1984 2011 by Biblica Inc. Used by permission of Zonderan. All rights reserved.