Why the Car Stopped

(Published in Guide, a magazine for 10 to 14 year-olds, on March 5, 2005)

“Ah, Mother, not Grandpa Craig,” whined Della.  “That’s a long drive and there’s nothing to do when we get there.  Why don’t we go visit Aunt Mary or Aunt Tottie instead?

“We just visited both of them last week,” replied Mother. “Your great-grandpa Craig loves to see you kids.  And it’s really not very far – it just seems like a long drive because of all the stoplights.”

“But, Mother, there’s nothing to do…” began Scott, Della’s younger brother.

“So take a book,” responded Daddy.  “Come on, let’s go!”

And so it was that the family, books and all, piled into their sedan.  To keep Della and Scott from arguing over where they were going to sit, there was assigned seating in the car: Della sat behind the driver’s seat (Daddy was driving on this night) and Scott sat behind the front passenger seat.  In this way, they set off to Grandpa Craig’s house.  The route took them through several city streets and past lots of stoplights.  Finally, when they were almost there, they stopped at one of these many stoplights.

We’re going to leave Della and her family at that stoplight for a minute, because there was something interesting – and potentially deadly – going on just down the street.

It was about the same time that Della’s family had been discussing its evening plans that a group of teenaged boys had been doing the same.  But, instead of discussing their plans over dinner, they were making plans while doing drugs.  After a while, they had decided to go cruising.  The fact that they didn’t have a car only delayed them slightly: they stole a car from the nearby parking lot.  Then, because they were high on drugs and not thinking properly, they were driving erratically down the residential street at 90 miles per hour!  And, at this very moment, they were speeding toward the street where Della’s family was waiting at the stoplight.

“The light’s green,” Mother said to Daddy, who wasn’t really paying attention.

“I know,” he said good-naturedly.  “I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.”

Della and Scott laughed; they had heard this cover-up line before.

Daddy stepped on the gas and the car began moving forward … then suddenly it stopped moving, even though the engine was still running.  It felt as though someone was holding the car back.  But nothing was there.

In that split second, the blur of a car sped by, left to right, just inches from their front bumper, and then crashed into the house on the corner to their right. Daddy hit the brakes, but because everything had happened so quickly, he actually braked after the danger was past.

“What happened?  Who was that?  Why did the car stop?” Everyone was talking at once.

“I don’t know,” cried Daddy.  “The car was still running, in fact the engine even revved up, like it was pushing against something.”

“But I didn’t see anything there.  Did you?” asked Mother.

“No, there was nothing there,” replied Daddy.  Then he added thoughtfully, “At least nothing we could see.  But something was there, all right.  Or someone – someone sent to protect us.”

The car was quiet as Mother whispered, “An angel.”

At breakfast the next morning, Daddy passed around the newspaper for everyone to see.  On the front page was a terrible picture of a house with a gaping hole in one wall, and a wrecked car sitting in the hole.  There were splintered timbers and brick façade lying all around.  Police and ambulance personnel were all around.

“That’s the accident from last night!” exclaimed Della.  “Look at the huge hole in the house!  Was anyone hurt?”

“All of the boys in the car were hurt – one was killed,” Daddy replied sadly.

“And what about the people in the house?” worried Scott.

“This hole,” Daddy pointed to the picture, “is in the living room wall.  Thankfully, the family was eating dinner in the dining room at the time, so none of them was hurt.”

There was much commotion and discussion as everyone looked at the picture and read the article.  Then, slowly, Della asked, “Daddy, if the angel hadn’t held back the car, what would have happened?”

Daddy’s answer was thoughtful, almost reverent.  “That car would have broad-sided our car, right on the side where you and I were sitting.  If it made a hole like that in a big, sturdy house, you can imagine what it would have done to our little car.”  Then, very deliberately fixing his eyes on Della, he added: “You and I would be dead for sure.”

With renewed thankfulness that they were, each one of them, present for breakfast that morning, they all bowed their heads.  Daddy thanked God for breakfast … and for His incredible protection.

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