We all do it, stretch out our vacation as long as we can and leave as late as possible in an effort to slow down the impending rush of reality and all its demands.
For us, with young children, this meant driving home in the dark. So, with luggage secured, the engine humming and children slumbering, my husband and I popped turned on the radio, open our soda cans and scooted comfortably into the worn seats of our mini-van for the long ride home.
The trip involved traveling down a remote part of highway in order to shave some time. I don’t think we were really aware of how remote some parts were….until our peaceful symphony was stifled by a loud and heavy “THUNK.”
Within minutes, the minivan began to decelerate, and died on a desolate part of the highway with no running engine, no road lights and no nearby exits. Cell phones would have been a welcome solution, but our vacation adventure predates even these.
It was a bit past 9:00 pm. We waited for any car to pass, but the combination of late travel and a deserted highway left us only one option. My husband decided to walk to the nearest exit and find help, while I waited with our three children in a locked car.
It was not an option I liked in the least, and to be honest, I was scared. How far would he have to walk? How was he going to stay safe? How was I going to keep my children safe?
I wish I could tell you the next thing I did was what I always do during difficult situations, but it is not. And why it was the first thing I thought of, I still can’t explain. In my fear, I don’t think I believed anything would happen, but for the sake of my 5-year-old son, I did what I had so often taught him to do…I prayed for help.
To this day, the memory of how the situation unfolded leaves me awestruck.
No sooner had the “Amen” been spoken, when a light tap on my window startled me speechless. Out of nowhere, a man appeared, white button down shirt, jeans and a white hard hat.
Fearfully, I cracked my window. He explained that he was the supervisor of a road crew up the way, and he was heading to check on a project they were finishing. Then, he asked if I needed him to go get help.
Still startled, I blurted out that my husband was walking for help, and before I could register revealing my complete vulnerability, he told me he would find him and bring him back.
I was stunned and confused. How….where…?
When they returned, this stranger relayed how he and his work crew were supposed to be working for another night, but they finished early, and everyone was heading back to their homes. They had hotel reservations for the week, and the bill was paid up through the night, so a room was available, and we were welcome to stay.
I could not believe my ears! What kind of stranger comes along and offers help, a free hotel room, and as if this were not enough, also tows our vehicle to where it could be fixed the next day?
What could have been a frustrating end to a vacation became a lasting family memory of God’s lavish grace and a testimony to the truth that with God, there simply are no coincidences.
Just ask my son, who still remembers our Good Samaritan 20 years later.