XXXII. Split-second prayer in the face of sudden death
by Bill Hunt
High in the Canadian Rockies, I rounded a mountain curve and suddenly found myself not able to steer the turn on shear ice. One-two-three! I pump braked to no avail. As a young man from Maine, I drove on ice with a healthy respect.
My car slid toward the outside of the curve. The hood of my car in a split second faced the evergreen treetops over the side of the cliff. I knew I was about to drop.
I yelled as I ducked my head down to the front seat and prepared for the certain flight off the cliff and death. A few seconds and nothing happened. I did not fall!
I raised my head and peered out my windshield. Now I could see the inside mountain wall. I had completely reversed direction! Quickly, I skidded, regaining control of my car.
"Perfect love casts out fear," even the fear of death (1 John 4:18 NKJ).
Three times I drove the wilderness ALCAN Highway traveling Maine to Alaska, but not without incident. It was a long trip of eight days with the last three days treading the ALCAN across 1400 miles of spiraling dirt road, ice, and snow. Once I even took the pleasure of digging my car out of deep snow off the side of the highway.
About two years later, my wife, Mary, and I decided to drive home to show off our new baby, Monica. Back down the ALCAN we drove in a brand new station wagon.
Hour after hour I drove into the dark night. The rain poured and I found myself driving down a steep muddy mountain decline. I lost all traction in the wet, slippery mud. My car would not slow down. I braked, but could not stop. The car just kept sliding on its own out of control.
I fumbled the front wheels as if they were a pair of skis. I attempted to keep the car in the center of the unseen narrow road as I descended into the pitch, rainy darkness. Very, very frightened, I prayed aloud. I could barely see a little through the side windows to keep my orientation. Right beside me was the cliff drop off.
At one point, my wife woke up, and I quietly told her to go back to sleep. I did not want her to panic in the severe danger we were in. I fought to save our lives from sliding off the side of the mountain. After more than a half hour of this blind sliding, the road finally leveled off.
We found a bare, rustic hunter's cabin to rest in. I could not sleep. The gas heater buzzed like an over sized bumble bee. We left to continue our journey before the sunrise. I trembled, very grateful to God for our lives. There are times to realize: life is a very precious gift.
A most amazing incident took place in wintry Maine years later. All five of our children rode with us in the car. We crossed a highway bridge near my parents' home on Mayflower Hill. Suddenly, we hit glazed ice under a wet, slushy snow cover causing a very dangerous situation. Coming around the curve, another car skidded directly at us head-on, totally out of control.
I pump braked; nothing happened. I turned the wheel; nothing happened. Mary, next to me on the front seat, took action.
"JESUS!" she yelled with all her might.
An object moving by physical inertia in a given direction does not suddenly jump sideways unless acted upon by a decisive, opposing force. But that's exactly what happened! Our car jumped to the right side of the path avoiding the oncoming vehicle. We were so close to the other vehicle, I could see the shock on the riders' faces.
This was not a turn, and not a skid, and not a slide. We all felt the sideways jump, and I controlled nothing with the steering wheel or the brakes. Amazed, we gave God the glory, thanking him for our deliverance.
Now, children remember things! Years later, our son, Brian, driving on the highway to St. Louis in heavy traffic suddenly encountered ice on the bridge. Cars crashed ahead of him and cars crashed behind him. His auto would not brake on the ice as he slid toward the pile of crashing cars. What did Brian do? Well, he remembered!
"JESUS!" he yelled with all his might.
And his car stopped!
Brian found himself sitting in the middle of a 25-car pileup on a major highway. He was dead center in the accident, but his was the only car untouched. He alone had not been scathed in the pile-up.
(True story #32 in the series, “100 Million Miracles.”)