Isaiah 65:24 (New Living Translation) says: “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” I really like this promise. Also dear to me is Joshua 1:9: “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Winters in Chicago can be long and harsh. While the cold may be hard to bear, the snow is staggeringly beautiful. Yet, the snow and ice are a constant challenge for drivers making their way through the snow. Like everyone else in the cold weather regions, we have no choice but to be out there, even in hazardous weather. Or do we?
Because I have lived and commuted in Chicago for many years I thought that I knew how to stay safe while driving in the snow. One snowy day this past February, my son and I were at home; schools were closed due to a “snow day.” We spent the morning at home and gave city workers what (I thought) was enough time to clear the roads. In the afternoon, we got in the car and went to a little hill about two miles away to go sledding. After narrowly escaping getting stuck in a parking lot next to the hill (where the snow had not been cleared), I thought we were doing pretty well. Walking through the parking lot toward the hill, my son and I passed four cars stuck in the snow, tirelessly trying to get out.
After sledding for a while we saw more cars stuck in the snow as we walked back to our car. We said a silent prayer for them and thanked the Lord for having spared us that experience. My son had so much snow in his boots from sledding, I wasn't sure if I could get them dry for school the next day. By this time we felt pretty confident that we could try another trip, so off we went. Target had no boys’ boots left. We got back in the car and headed home.
I was talking to my son when I realized we were sitting at the light for what seemed like a long time. The tractor-trailer in front of us was stopped and just standing there. The light was green, but we were not moving. I thought it might be an abandoned vehicle in front of me. I looked back and there was a black SUV close behind me. The cars in the next lane were speeding by, but I felt trapped.
Then it happened! The huge tractor-trailer in front of us started backing up coming closer and closer. I thought for sure that the driver (if there was one) knew what he was doing. Instead of stopping, the trailer kept coming closer and closer and I panicked! I thought maybe this could be an abandoned vehicle that was sliding on ice! That was a really scary thought: something heavier and more powerful than our car sliding towards us with no ability for us to stop it!
I beeped my horn, while looking behind me again. There was no room! The black SUV was still behind me, and I wasn't going to hit it if I could avoid it. I didn’t want to be the one initiating an accident. But, my only option was to sit where I was, beeping my horn and watching the trailer come toward us. My son started screaming in the back seat, and I thought that whatever happened next, we were in the Lord’s hands. I thought of the promise in Ps. 34:7: “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”
Bang!! The trailer hit us again and we still didn’t know what was next. Slowly, the trailer started moving forward. I sighed with relief that we were not hurt. I expected to meet the driver believing he would come back to us to discuss the damage done to my car.
But no! After a brief stop, the trailer started sliding back again! At this point, I was even more confused! Why was he doing this? Why us? I glanced back, hoping for room to back up. But there was no room; the SUV was still there! I beeped my horn, my son screamed again, I closed my eyes, and then…
Bang! The trailer hit us again even harder! Then, it moved forward again, and again I thought the driver would come to talk to us. This time I was sure he would. So, I put my car in park and watched the trailer move forward slowly, slowly, and then faster and faster and… it was gone! It turned right at the light and kept going, like nothing had happened!
I was baffled and speechless! I thought to myself: "No way, you don't just leave us like this! Don't we even matter to you?" And then, I immediately wondered how I would explain this to the police. So, I looked back hoping this time that the SUV was still there, but it wasn’t. It had left, not wanting to get involved, I assume.
I had to think fast but had no time to assess all of my options. I needed to act fast. And act I did: I went after him! It came to me that this was what I was supposed to do, going after him. I had never been in a situation like that before! Before I fully knew what I was doing, I turned right at the intersection. The light had just turned yellow. I accelerated, changed lanes, and caught up to the tractor. I honked my horn and motioned to the driver to pull over. He looked at me puzzled. So, I motioned again, with even more determination!
And suddenly I realized what I was doing! I was trying to confront someone who had hit my car with no regard for it or for anyone in the car and then ran! “Is this the right thing to do?” I asked myself. I tried to objectively assess my feelings and realized that I was actually a little bit frightened rather than mad with the driver for what he had done.
The driver looked a bit unsure, but did as I asked. He stopped and so did I, closely behind his trailer. We both got out of our cars, cautiously. He approached my car, and I asked him calmly and politely, but with a trembling voice, why was he running after hitting us like that. He said totally surprised, “When? Where? Where were you?” I told him I was behind him at the intersection, while he was backing up. He said: “I looked behind me, I did,” he said, “and there was only a black SUV.” Then, I told him: “The black SUV was behind me!” And he gasped, in disbelief! He said worriedly: “Did I hit you? Are you hurt?” I said, “Yes, not hurt, but you did hit my car. Twice.” He seemed genuinely surprised to hear that!
I told him I had been beeping my horn, and he said, stunned: “I didn’t hear you, I didn’t see you, but most of all I can’t believe I didn’t even feel the impact!” And I could see that this was as much a learning experience for him as it was for me: he was also realizing things about driving with a trailer that he didn’t know before! To his credit, He didn’t deny what happened. He seemed eager to help amend the situation. So, he said: “Let’s stop in a parking lot and call the police.” And he explained to me how he got stuck on the ice while trying to move at the light. And that’s why he was backing up, to get some traction.
While waiting for the police, I turned around and saw my son still a bit shaken. I asked him softly if he was scared, cold, or hungry; he replied that he was just a bit anxious at the thought that the police were coming. I told him there was nothing to be afraid of since the police were coming to help us. I told him it was customary for the police to come in situations like this, to help make things right. So, we talked about it and he calmed down.
I had gotten out of the car since I didn't want to miss what the truck driver was going to say about the accident. But the police officer spotted my little boy in the car right away (I am sure they are trained for that) and the first thing he asked was, “Can I talk to your son?” I said “Yes, of course.” “Does he know how to open the window for me?” he asked. I said, “Yes,” but still rushed to the car to help, in case I was needed. However, my son, who observed everything from the car, motioned to me that he was able to open the window himself.
I silently thanked the Lord for having “sent” us the nicest police officer around! He asked my son how old he was, if he was Ok, and whether he liked stickers. The affirmative answer came promptly! Then, the police officer told him: “I have a star for you, just like my star Police badge, but you have to do something for me first. Please raise your right hand and say after me…” While my son did what he was asked, the police officer continued, “I promise to eat all my fruits and vegetables and to do everything my Mom asks me to do!” My son happily received his star and he was absorbed by it right away, while the three of us talked about the accident.
While waiting in our warm car for the police officer to write his report I talked to my son about our blessings and the way the Lord had protected us. I pointed out to him what a blessing it was that we were not hurt, and that even my car was still running nicely, with only a damaged bumper. The man in the tractor hasn't seen us, I told him; things could have been much worse! We could have been pinned between the trailer and the SUV behind us, I thought to myself! My son told me the scariest thing for him was seeing the trailer coming toward us while we had nowhere to go!
I told him that although we had acted a little unwise having put ourselves into a situation out of our control, even then, God was still in control. He is always in control of everything and we could clearly see how He had protected us. I realized that Isaiah 65:24 had become a reality for me again: before I could call for help, He was there to protect us! I also recalled Ps. 91:11: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Yes, He had sent His angels to protect us. We had experienced His protection in a powerful way and I learned a lesson that I will always remember; before I could call for help, He was there to protect us, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee.”
I will remember that driving through ice and snow is not a task to be taken lightly! And I learned that it is important to mind the sensible advice that is always given when the driving conditions are unsafe; stay inside if we do not have a pressing reason to be on the road. Looking back, I realized what wise advice this is. Of course, the Lord protected us even when I made an unwise decision, but His doing so was also a preventive measure. I took it as a blessing and, at the same time, a warning that something worse could happen if we do not carefully consider our options before deciding to act on our impulses.
Later that night, while tucking my son to bed, he told me affectionately: "Mom, I still remember exactly what the police officer told me to say!" and he repeated it, proudly, word for word. I told him it was great he remembered it, but that doing it was even more important!
I learned that, scary as they are, I could always use such experiences as a basis to talk to my son about God's continual and tireless love and care for us! Exactly as the Heavenly Father teaches us lesson after lesson, we should also teach our children again and again about God’s perfect love. We never tire of teaching them the best lesson of all: to trust and obey - no matter what may come our way.