When I was 25, I was on a road trip with an old missionary friend and Baptist minister we called Papa Don Mitchetll. We were on our way back from Tulsa for his son’s wedding, and he was taking me home again to Reno. His wife did not want him to travel alone as he had a heart condition.
To begin with, we should have never taken the 1962 Cadillac. It guzzled gas and by Colorado the fuel pump was shot. We kept praying and made it to a mountain pass (I think it was Monarch) when the Caddy gave out. It was cold and snowing. State troopers passed several times, but did not stop. We had only one blanket which we spread over the seats, with the idea he could drape half over himself in the back, and I could have half where I slept in the front. Being overweight, he took all the blanket with him when he rolled over. I thought I would freeze to death.
In the morning, he cheerfully fiddled with it, trusting God as always, and we sputtered down the other side of the mountains. I had serious doubts how this trip would end.
Outside of Austin, Nevada (desolate, unpopulated high desert), the Caddy gave its death rattle. This time we were stranded in a barren desert, and no cars passed for hours. This time it was HOT!!! No matter what he did, the car wouldn’t budge, but he remained cheerful and singing God’s praises. I was not as cheerful and wanted to go home. There were no cell phones in 1975.
By noon, it was over 100 degrees–I decided the only course was to hitch-hike to Austin. He wanted to go, but I was afraid the walking would kill him. After a while of walking towards that town, I caught a ride with a truck driver. When I arrived, I called the Union Oil Truck Stop I worked for and ordered parts to be sent, then headed back to the desert with a tow-truck from the local garage. As I rode, I prayed quietly… “Please, God, don’t let him die! I am not worthy, but he is your faithful servant and a righteous man! You took care of Elijah in the wilderness and gave him water and food. Please take take of him in the same way! And… please send a breeze! (I thought the last part to be a bit childish and futile, but hoped my prayers would be heard). Many hours later, contacts had been made, parts ordered, and I had a ride to go pick up Papa Don in the desert. I almost expected the worst. It was over 103 and he had been there for hours with no food, water, or shelter from the sun.
I was almost in shock to see him happily sitting there, sipping on some cold water from a cooler and still singing. I said “Are you OK???? Where did you get the water?”
He just smiled and replied “Oh–I’ve been fine here.. just spending some time to sing and pray! When you left, I saw a cloud of dust coming across that stretch of desert–turned out to be a pickup truck coming down a dirt road. The nicest man stopped and gave me this cooler full of water and a ham sandwich… and a nice cool breeze came up from nowhere. I wasn’t even hot!!!”
I asked where the truck went. He replied, “Well, I don’t really know. It just turned around and disappeared back where it came from!”
Why, knowing this, do I still seem so surprised when God comes though?
All praise and glory to Him!