Changing Oil

by | Jun 4, 1999 | Provision

It was Christmas week in Cleland, England, and Sharon Stead and her family had been visiting relatives. “Since our three sons were little–ages seven, five and five months–we had planned to leave for home much earlier,” Sharon recalls. But time had passed too quickly, and now they were facing a long drive on a single-lane road through miles of open country, no houses, no services or restaurants. Nor did the Steads own a cell phone. They had made this trip many times, but never this close to evening. Sharon was nervous, but she put on a smile as the families waved goodbye to one another. All too soon, darkness began to fall.

Snuggled up in warm fleecy blankets in the back seat, the boys went to asleep. But the road got darker, the terrain even more desolate, and then. “Oh no,” Sharon’s husband, Dave, murmured about an hour into the journey. “Is that fog?”

It was. Dense, thick, it floated over then and soon they could barely see more than a few yards ahead. “As Dave braked, we both noticed the oil warning light flashing on and off on the dashboard,” Sharon says. “Then the engine began to sputter.” The car seemed to lose power, chugging and bouncing along. The couple exchanged worried looks. There were no other cars in view, no sign of life anywhere. What if they stalled? How could they protect the children, or find help?

There was nothing else to do but to pray. “God, please get us home safely,” Sharon began. “Get the car home before it breaks down completely.” Dave echoed her plea. Over and over the couple prayed, as they watched the oil light flash on and off. The car continued to balk, slowing to about fifteen miles an hour. If they stopped, they might never start again. Baby Lewis awakened and began to fuss. Somehow, Sharon got him into the front seat and gave him his bottle. “I was afraid to stop praying, almost afraid to take my eyes off the dashboard light,” she says. No cars appeared anywhere around them. Mile by mile, Dave continued to drive.

At last! Suddenly they saw lights ahead–it was a “roundabout,” or oasis, with a gas station right beside it. Gratefully they pulled in, just as the engine sputtered to a stop. They had made it! Or, at least, they were not alone anymore. For a lone attendant came toward them, smiling in welcome.

However, the news was not good. There were no mechanics on duty, nor was the oasis restaurant open. “The holidays, you know,” the attendant pointed out. “It might take hours to find a mechanic. I can replace the oil you’ve lost, but I don’t know if that will get you home.”

Dave didn’t either. But there was no motel available, his family was cold and frightened, and he had to try. He and the mechanic replaced the oil, Dave got back in the car and the engine started. Shakily they pulled out onto the lonely road. “Are we going to make it?” Sharon asked anxiously.

“Keep praying,” Dave answered.

Somehow they kept moving. Even when they came upon a stoplight, it was green and they were able to coast through it without using the brake. Finally they reached the outskirts of their town, and at 2:30 am, they turned into their own driveway. It had taken them seven hours to cover a journey that usually took about four, but they were safe. Sharon and Dave prayed a loud “thank you!” Just as the car’s engine died.

“We truly believed that God had sent us the help we needed, and we were very grateful,” Sharon says. But they did not realize how blessed they actually were until the next time they drove the same road back to their relatives’ home in Cleveland. For they passed no roundabout or gas station on that journey. Nor have they ever seen such a place during the many years they have since driven the route. “We often tell the story of how God sent us an gas station angel,” Sharon says, “and a certain brand of blessed oil to bring us safely home.”

Copyrighted by Joan Wester Anderson used with permission. Originally appeared on the Where Angels Walk website,


Changing Oil