Late Again … Thank God

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By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer

Last Monday I had a 2 p.m. appointment and just enough time to get there.

Then the phone rang with a long-distance call.

And the dog wouldn’t go back in the yard because he was freaked out by an approaching storm. How does a deaf dog know thunder is rolling over the mountain?

Fifteen minutes later as I drove to my meeting (late), I thought back to another time when time made all the difference …

After a long haul from our last rodeo in Turlock, California, we stopped in Lovelock, Nevada, on our way to a rodeo in Charlotte, Iowa – which, according to the map, was on the other side of the planet.

Not really, it just looked that far away.

Mike, my rodeo bullfighter/barrel-man husband was hurting after the Turlock performance because the charge on one of his comedy acts had blown up in his hands. Blistered all the skin on both palms.

But with a bottle of pure aloe vera gel and cotton gloves, he’d driven all the way from Turlock to Lovelock anyway. (Ever try to tell a cowboy he can’t do something?)

The motel was a treat. Our two children swam in the pool, we rested up, then headed out late the next evening because driving across country in the summer was easier on the animals and the kids if we covered most of the distance at night. And Charlotte, Iowa, was still more than halfway across the country.

I took the first shift as the sun set in my side mirrors. I loved driving across the desert at night. Did you know that you can see stars all the way down to the horizon?

The kids were in the sleeper attached to our 2.5-ton International Harvester diesel truck, and Mike reclined in the passenger seat, working on a nap.

Our big truck had five gears and a two-speed rear end which meant a ten-gear routine coming off any and all stop signs. We pulled a 45-foot furniture van we’d converted into living quarters, tack room, and animal compartment, and everything of any value that we had in the world was in that rig.

I settled into my usual speed of 55 mph, the most economical for us in those days. But twenty miles out of Lovelock, I sensed the Lord urging me to ease back to 53.

Not a big difference, so why the big deal? However, I knew that tug on my insides, so I slowed.

About thirty minutes later, an aurora-like glow burst over a rise up ahead. Reflexively, I lifted my foot from the accelerator, and Mike woke up. Just this side of the crest, we came up on a semi and a car pulled off on the side of the road. We did the same.

“Stay here,” Mike said as he jumped out and ran ahead.

When he returned, he wasn’t wearing his shirt. “I’m taking our big towels, the beach towels.”

What?

Again, “Stay here.”

We were the fourth vehicle to come up on an old station wagon that had stalled just over the rise. The first vehicle was a semi that plowed into that family car full of children.

What I’d seen in the sky a few minutes earlier was the explosion.

Mike worked with the truck driver whose synthetic T-shirt had melted into his skin. It was a while before EMTs arrived, and the highway was closed for hours. The ground trembled from idling semis backed up for miles behind us.

To this day, I weep when I think of those children. And I still wonder if two miles per hour made a difference that night. If it kept us from being the rig that came over the hill unable to stop in time.

When I’m late, when things happen that throw me off my intended schedule, I have to consider if it’s simply coincidence or if it’s God.

We ask Him to direct our steps, so why don’t we trust that He does? I don’t always understand His timing, but I’m learning that He sees the bigger picture and may want me to be late again … thank God.

How about you? Are you aware of a time in your life when a few minutes made all the difference?

A man’s heart plans his way,
but the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

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Feeling foolish, Eli pushed his cap off and rubbed his head, recalling long cold nights in foreign mountains. A man’s mind could play tricks on him, make him think someone was out there, when in truth, there were many someones out there.

If any man is in Me, he is a new creation.

This time the words settled inside him, pulsating like some living thing.

And the voice. He hadn’t listened to it in a while.

The promise was more than a well-delivered sermon from a Sunday pulpit. It belonged to the God Eli had known before Laura moved away. Before the IED blew up the Humvee. Before Pop died.

“I really do want a fresh start.” Confession clawed its way up his throat. Saying it out loud made it real. Tangible. His stomach clenched, his hands fisted around nothing. He desperately wanted to slough off the old and start over.

“But I need a hand here.”

Lightning split the darkness, and pain slashed the right side of his face. He curled in on himself, clutching his head. The left foot he no longer had shattered and throbbed with every life-spilling pump of his heart. Thunder tore through him with an agonizing cry.

And then it was over.

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(c) 2019 Davalynn Spencer, all rights reserved.

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14 thoughts on “Late Again … Thank God

  1. Robin in NC

    It’s so good you listened to His urging! As I age, I’m learning to be more mindful & not try to do things on my own but to listen, because, if I don’t, it usually doesn’t turn out well. His love for us is so amazing! Your life sounds so exciting & full of adventures! The excerpt from THE MIRACLE TREE sounds life a definite page turner, um quick listen? LOL! Anyway, sounds wonderful. Thank you for all you do.

     
     
    1. Barbara Raymond

      I cried as I read this letter. I have had an incidence where I was late getting started which kept me from being right in the middle of a tragic accident. When I got out of my car to see why traffic was stopped, I asked another person who was there what happened. That was when we saw the helicopter coming in. There had been a terrible accident about a mile ahead of where I was. I sat there and thanked God I had been late getting started and for all the road construction.
      I cried as I read about the children but Thankful you and your family was not involved.

       
       
      1. davalynn

        Yes, Barbara. So many times when the Lord has turned our step aside, or slowed it just enough to make a difference. Like you, I weep when I think of those children. Thank God, they’re in His presence.

         
         
    2. davalynn

      I’m with you on the listening-better-with-age thing, Robin! I’ve had to learn the hard way, and I’m still learning. If I just didn’t get so impatient!

       
       
      1. Robin in NC

        Lord give me patience & give it to me now! 🙂

         
         
        1. davalynn

          Haha, Robin. How often have we all prayed that one!

           
           
  2. Lori Smanski

    So glad you were listening to Him. Time is something that we son’t think about how God uses I think. When my husband was going to seminary, he decided to come home and think about if he wanted to continue in seminary. There were two buses. He and some of the other boys were late getting to the bus. As the bus pulled out and followed the other from a distance, a truck hit the first bus. No one was killed. But he could have been on that bus and hurt. God was leading him even then. He took things seriously since then and started really finding out who this God of the universe really was. Today he is a wonderful godly man I am proud to call my husband. Thanks for sharing your story with us. God bless you.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Thanks for sharing, Lori. What an eye-opening experience your husband had. I think there must be many things the Lord has intervened in that we don’t even know about. He is, indeed, the God of the universe.

       
       
  3. Karen Gee

    I can relate to this event you described. Many times I have realized that God has delayed or sidetracked me to prevent me from being involved in an accident.
    I thank God for His hand of protection upon my life and my family’s lives.
    We don’t know what’s ahead, but He does.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Amen, Karen. He’s watching. His vision is so much better than ours!

       
       
  4. In Spring of 2017, I had to pull out of a July mission trip. Our team was to take 1000 solar radios to Bolivia. On these trips, each person takes 2 large suitcases with 100 radios and all kinds of supplies. Each suitcase had to weigh no more than 50 pounds. If the soccer balls and your jeans weighed the same? You tossed your spare jeans. Same with crayons, paper, etc.
    We trek up above 10,000 feet in the remote valleys of the Andes. We’re usually 6-18 hours by Jeep from civilization. It’s a fabulous experience. This would’ve been my 5th trip.
    I REALLY wanted to go. Man, oh man, I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to go. But I felt the nudge. So I talked with my husband, and then I sent the email. fast forward to a Friday night in early July, and I was in the ER, in “worse than child-birth” AGONY. The next day, I had emergency surgery to remove a badly damaged gall bladder.
    The mission team was due to leave on Monday, 36 hours after my surgery. Had I not pulled out in the Spring, I’d have royally messed things up for the team of ten. They’d have had to re-organize all the supplies at the airports, and turf a lot of their own stuff to accommodate mine. They’d have understood, but it would have been mildly crazy. And not to mention my heartbreak, and the non-refundable 3000$ for airfare and hostel and meals, etc.
    It wasn’t a few minutes, but 36 hours. But I cannot fathom what would’ve happened if the team had left on that Friday morning and that tiny little organ decided to rupture in the air, or in South America on Saturday night.

     
     
    1. davalynn

      I continue to be amazed at our Lord’s perfect timing. What an incredible evidence of His providence, Jennifer.

       
       
  5. Vicki Nicholson

    God’s timing is perfect…always!
    Thanks for your “timely” thoughts! And thank God for His perfect timing?

     
     
    1. davalynn

      Amen, Vicki. Amen.

       
       

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