Saved in a blizzard

Through all the outward chaos, a peace surrounded me as messages from God began flooding my thoughts.

Originally published for the Christian Science Sentinel online on February 17, 2022.

I grew up in Michigan, where I still live and where it can get very cold and snowy in the winter. So I’m used to frigid weather. But the winter of 2014 was especially harsh. One evening, during the tail end of a blizzard on a Saturday evening, my wife was called in to work. At the time, she was pregnant with our first child. 

We live in the country, and because of the inclement weather, I offered to take a quick drive down a few of the back roads to make sure they were safe for her to travel. I didn’t expect to have any problems, so I grabbed my cellphone and—wearing only a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops—jumped into my SUV and headed out. It was nearing dusk, and high winds were still prevalent. But I didn’t pay attention to the bitter chill, since I figured I was safe in my car and only going out for a quick drive. 

About three miles from home, I was traveling into a slight valley when I noticed the winds were blowing violently, whipping up snow and creating a virtual whiteout in front of me. Before I realized what was happening, I was rolling downhill, plowing through ever-increasing drifts. They got larger, and I suddenly found myself stuck in impassable drifts up to the hood of my SUV. 

In a moment I also noticed that I was nearly out of gas. I tried to call my wife on my phone, but I was in a cell service dead zone, and my phone battery was blinking. I was stuck and thought to myself that this was “a perfect storm.” 

For a moment I almost laughed at myself for being low on gas, having no phone service, and wearing summer clothes. I knew the road crews most likely wouldn’t be out at this late hour on the weekend. I saw that about half a mile up the road a vehicle that had been traveling in my direction was also stuck, and that another vehicle was helping them out. I flashed my lights several times, hoping they would realize I was in trouble. But in an instant that car was rescued, and both vehicles turned and left. I was alone, and it was getting dark, with subzero temperatures. 

As I watched the wind-swept snow engulf my vehicle, I suddenly felt as though I were suffocating and began to panic. At that moment I remembered seeing a news report about a young couple getting caught in a blizzard and dying of exposure. I had wondered how a person could get themselves into such a predicament. And then I suddenly realized that I was “that guy”!

I frantically tried to think of a way out. I considered cutting the fabric from the seats to provide some type of insulation from the cold should the car run out of gas. I also searched the back of the SUV for warm clothing or blankets, but found nothing. 

I continued to panic and felt trapped, knowing that if the car ran out of gas, it wouldn’t be long before I would be in dire straits. I was so shaken that I figuratively threw my hands in the air and asked God, “Now what do I do?” The thought came to be still. I recognized this from the Bible, Psalms 46:10, where it says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” 

At that moment I knew that the only thing I could do was to be still and listen. So I closed my eyes, and for the next few minutes I sat there praying and listening for guidance, as the engine continued its dull roar and the gale-force winds rocked the car. 

Through all the outward chaos, a quiet peace surrounded me as angel messages from God began flooding my thoughts. The Bible’s book of Jeremiah states: “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord” (23:23, 24). Psalm 139 provided similar comfort: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (verses 7–10).

I sat quietly for a few more minutes praying with these passages. 

When I opened my eyes, I noticed headlights in the rearview mirror. As they got closer, I saw that the vehicle was a large road grader. In a few moments the driver jumped out of the vehicle and came to my window. He said he had been working all day in the blizzard plowing main roads, and was heading back to the highway department yard for the evening. He said that there was no reasonable explanation for it, but he had felt compelled to make a pass in my direction before ending his shift.

I told him I had been praying. He said it must have been divine intervention, because his job was to keep the main roads clear, not the side roads. I knew that his heeding the instruction to drive past my location was the result of prayer and of God directing his path.

Before we parted, he told me they wouldn’t be working the next day because of the extreme weather conditions expected over the next 24 hours. His was the last county vehicle that would travel down this road for the next few days (it took nearly a week for the county to clear the side roads). As he was plowing me out, I recalled Mary Baker Eddy’s statement: “Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 149–150). God’s love had been protecting me all along.

The man in the grader plowed my vehicle out quickly. I thanked him for the help, and in no time, I was on my way back home. When I arrived, I told my wife what had happened. She was upset and reminded me not to take unnecessary risks without thinking about potential consequences, but she was very grateful that I was OK. Needless to say, she didn’t make the journey into work that evening, and we both stayed safely at home.

The Bible states, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9). After being rescued from what seemed to be an impossible situation, I realized that God had been there all the time, caring for and guiding me. God is truly a “very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). 

I’m grateful for gaining a clearer understanding of our oneness with God, knowing that His angels surround, protect, and guide us always. Even when we make foolish decisions, if we’re willing to be calm and listen, God’s gentle love will direct our path to safety.

Safe at school
May 30, 2022

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