True Miracle Stories
by Debra K. Matthews
Welcome! Here's another true Christian story from my collection of things that have really happened to me (including stories about miracles, angels, Civil Air Patrol and God's love and blessings). This one is about God's deliverance on a snowy mountain pass years ago.
"Peril on the Pass"
Copyright © 1999 by Debra K. Matthews. All rights reserved
The steady stream of traffic through the snow-covered mountain pass had narrowed the road down to one lane instead of two. I was heading home from a Civil Air Patrol training weekend, and very tired. Three days without sleep and I had to get home at a decent time on that Sunday night.
As I headed up toward the summit, I was having trouble keeping my mind alert and my eyes open. I rolled down the window and stuck my head out, letting the cold air shock me awake. Too cold, I pulled my head inside and quickly closed the window. So sleepy -- I started bouncing up and down in my seat, trying hard to stay awake.
A sign announced a store up ahead on a side road. I turned off and headed to the store, hoping to find some kind of crunchy food -- Cheetos maybe -- and cold pop to keep me going. I pulled up to the store and got out, instantly awakened by a freezing wind biting into me sharply.
Some customers came out of the store and looked questioningly at my car. I was driving a fairly new, apple-red Torino station wagon. Across each front door was a wide, white diagonal stripe topped by a large eight-color picture, similar to the patch I had designed for my Civil Air Patrol squadron. It had a big eagle in flight carrying a CB radio antenna with lightning bolts emitting from it, over a big "S" in the background, and a scroll above and below it. The one I had created for my squadron had said, "Pride In Our Teamwork." For my own personal emblem on my car I had designed it in the shape of a shield, added a large brown cross in the back of it all, and written, "In God We Trust." I had painted it with a great deal of love and care.
I was wearing my C.A.P. fatigue uniform with the squadron patch on the front pocket and the Civil Air Patrol one on my left shoulder. The bystanders were probably trying to decide if I was Coast Guard, because of the car's red and white coloring.
I went inside and looked around the store while some other people were paying for their purchases. I found several good apples and some other items, paid for them and headed out to the car.
Back on the pass, every time I started to nod off, I would take an extra big loud bite of apple, like an actor on a stage, exaggerating every movement.
CRUNCH!!! Chomp ... chomp ... chomp! The loud chomping would wake me up for a few minutes. As soon as I felt myself getting droopy, I'd take another determined bite.
CRUNCH!!! Chomp ... chomp ... chomp! More miles passed behind me over the mountains.
Any other night, the falling snow would have been wondrous. Any other time I would have enjoyed its beauty, the large white flakes coming down hard against a backdrop of street lights and the darkness beyond them. Tonight the glistening snow was dangerous, piling thick on either side of the single lane, forcing me to go on. There was no way to pull over -- to stretch my legs and let the crisp night air wake me.
As my eyelids got heavier, I would try bouncing up and down again. "La ... la ... la ... la ... la!" I would sing out, clown style -- each "la" strong and loud, hoping the sound of my voice would keep me awake. CRU-U-N-N-CH!!! Chomp ... chomp ... chomp some more.
The miles went slowly by and the snow gave way to rain in the lower elevations. Finally, just east of North Bend, I could take no more. I pulled the car over onto the dirt shoulder and turned off the engine. I can't go any farther, I thought. I have to sleep. I slid down in my seat and closed my eyes.
The shoulder was narrow and the traffic close. Every speeding semi hurtling past would send a shock-wave of wind into the car, jerking me awake. I'd start to drift off, only to be rocked or shaken as the next large vehicle rushed by. After a particularly big wave of trucks zoomed along one after another, I gave up trying to sleep.
I sat up and started the motor again. What's the use? Might as well keep going, I thought. I remember pulling back onto the highway and heading toward the town lights ahead.
The next thing I knew, I woke up hitting something. I was singing a song from church, as my head and upper body were being thrown towards the steering wheel. I had both hands on the wheel and felt every muscle in my arms tighten hard as I tried to stop my forward motion, the seat belt across the bend of my lap holding that part of me back. My chest stopped just short of the wheel, every muscle tense, and then I fell back.
Almost instantly, a car pulled over in front of me, and a little white pickup behind. The man in the truck had a CB radio and called the State Patrol. My ingrained search and rescue training kicked in and I looked quickly ahead and to the right to see what I'd hit. Through the right passenger window, I saw only dirt cliff solidly up against the car.
A woman came running back from the car now parked ahead.
"I'm a nurse! Are you all right?" the lady called out as I shut off the engine and got my window down. "What happened?" she asked before I could answer the first question.
"I think I fell asleep," I said. I was wide awake now, with plenty of adrenalin to keep me that way.
I opened the door and got out, assuring her I was fine. No scratches or anything. She seemed satisfied and we both surveyed the damage to the car. The entire right side of the wagon was smashed up hard against the embankment, and a low hanging tree branch had gone through the front grill, which turned out to be plastic. All four wheels were buried in the mud and gravel of a wide, shallow ditch.
I pulled the branch from the grill as I heard the approach of a siren. My first thought at what the side of the car was going to look like was that I would have to remove the emblem. What are people going to think when they see 'In God We Trust' on the door, and it's all smashed up? I wasn't blaming God -- just realizing I had done something stupid and the non-believers would be quick to point a finger at the Lord. Ha, you trusted God and look what happened! they would say.
A Washington State Patrolman pulled in behind me, and I headed back to talk to him at the same time a tow truck was pulling in right in front of me. The patrolman took my statement and then made me sit in the front seat of his car as he went to look over the situation. He walked up to the tow truck as its driver was lowering the truck's rigging down to hook up the front of my car. They talked briefly and then the patrolman walked back towards me.
He stood in front his own car, out of the way of mine as it lurched forward, and then up onto the shoulder. The tow truck driver stopped, got out and came back to meet up with the trooper again. Together they looked under the front end of my car. They were talking loud over the sound of the truck engine, but I couldn't make out any words.
I felt stupid sitting in the patrol car, watching them. The tow truck guy unhooked the car and started reeling in the hook while the patrolman started walking around the car to survey the damage.
He started at the front, clipboard in hand and pen ready, moving around the right side of the car, towards the back, and then finally around to the left front door. I watched helplessly as he stopped at the driver's door and looked down at my painted emblem. An odd kind of half grin came to his face and he just stood there shaking his head.
Great! I thought. I've really made you look bad now, Lord. Please forgive me. I'm so sorry.
The trooper wrote something down on his board, then came back to his own car. Sliding into the driver's seat, he told me, "Well, I'm not going to give you a ticket, and there's no damage to your car, so you don't have to file an accident report."
I was incredulous! No damage at all?
He said I could go, and I thanked him and got out as he finished writing something on his report and put it away. The tow truck driver met me as I came to the right side of the car and looked at it. It was dirty, but unhurt. He was just as amazed as I was.
Following him back into North Bend to settle the bill, I discovered that I had driven all the way through town and seven miles beyond, entirely in my sleep, before crashing into that embankment! The Lord had protected me the whole way.
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Added September 19, 1999