A Thanksgiving Trip

by Rev. Joe Hoover

Click below to:

Return to menu of articles available here.

Return to The American Night Watch home page.

"At last I am finished with my exam!" I exclaimed as I walked to the front of the room to turn in my test. It was Wednesday morning, November 22, 1972, and I was in my second year at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. The campus experience was wonderful, but I looked forward to the five day break from classes.

Running to the dorm, I grabbed the last few things I would need for my journey. It had been a long time since I had visited my aunt and uncle in Charlottesville, Virginia. The trip should have taken about eight hours of constant driving. Getting away by 11:30 a.m., I targeted a 7:30 p.m. arrival. I stopped by the chapel on the way out to pray to God for safe driving and a pleasant weekend.

As I left the campus, I followed the winding road through many horse farms. It was a beautiful drive, the sky was clear blue, the old wooden fences lined the road, the backdrop of bluegrass and horses gave me an invigorating feeling of being in the midst of God's creation. It's amazing how quickly the world around you can change.

Clouds began to move into view until the sky was drizzly gray. The "perfect drive" began to take a new twist. The moisture was cold and soon I could see flakes of beautiful white snow begin to fall from the heavens above. As the snow began to accumulate on the road, I noticed a car had skidded into a ditch and couldn't get traction. I didn't have a lot of experience driving on snow as my home for the last ten years had been in Miami, Florida. So much for experience! My Ford Maverick had steel belted radials and so far my traction seemed to be OK so I continued the drive.

In West Virginia the roads became difficult. Each time I turned a curve, another sharp one seemed to stare me in the face. Not only were the curves sharper but the road began to climb to a higher altitude. First to the right, then to the left, an S-curve, a sharp C-curve, a sign that read "20 mph" for a curve up ahead. The snow was falling harder, visibility was being affected and I could barely see the snow-covered trees that lined the valley below the winding road. One thing I did see was that my car was beginning to loose traction on a tight C-curve. I was turning on the inside of the curve when I could feel my tires traveling across gravel instead of the pavement. When I tried to turn the wheel to get my car back on the road, the car began to slip closer to the edge of a great drop-off. There was no guard rail and I could imagine myself slipping over the edge. By now there was little traffic on the wintry roads and if I would go over the side there would likely be no one there to help me.

As the car slid closer and closer to the edge I began to pray for help. If I stopped the wheels from turning, I knew I would continue to slide away from the road. The turning of the wheels kept the car moving forward. Then it happened, a sensation of movement, the car began to slide away from the edge of the valley. How can a car move sideways, uphill and away from the edge? I felt a wonderful peace that I was in God's hands and that He had pushed me with His hand away from certain disaster. The words of praise and adoration flooded my soul and mouth as I began to offer thanksgiving for my deliverance.

Rejoicing in God's intervention, I continued my journey knowing I still had a long way ahead. By now it was approaching 11:30 p.m., way past the time I should have arrived in Charlottesville. I was still in the middle of West Virginia, only about half way there. I was now experiencing hunger and tiredness and I once again turned to God in prayer asking for a place where I could pull off the road and get something to eat. As soon as I finished my prayer I noticed a sign ahead hoping it would describe a place I could rest. The sign read "Trucks use low gear, steep grade ahead." Hope seemed to waver as I contemplated another twisting, turning, mountainous climb. I still felt God's presence as I began the next ascent. The two lane Highway 60 made a turn to the right and I saw ahead a semi-tractor trailer that had come to a stop in my lane blocking my passage. Since I was moving forward and uphill, I realized that if I stopped behind the truck I would certainly be finished for the night. A prayer formed on my lips. I asked for no oncoming traffic as I pulled into the left lane and slowly passed the motionless truck. As soon as I pulled back into my lane another vehicle came around the corner, and once again I realized how God had protected me. I found myself singing and voicing words of thanks and gratitude.

When I saw another sign ahead, I read with curiosity, "This is the highest point in West Virginia at an altitude of 8,300 feet." As I pressed on, passing the crest, a pleasant surprise was on the right side of the road. There was a diner that had several cars in the parking lot and was still open. So at midnight I pulled into the parking lot with my wheels still pointed downhill, ready to continue the journey of a lifetime.

Inside the restaurant were other travelers reviving themselves with food and rest. After eating my meal, I began to share with them my experience on the mountain. They too had stories to tell and we all thanked God for His care and protection. We sang some old fashioned hymns and had a time of Christian fellowship.

Around 1:00 a.m. a truck driver came in and said, "It just came over the radio, they expect another fall of snow, up to six inches more. If you want to get off the mountain, you need to go now."

I reluctantly went back to my car and started the engine. I allowed the car to warm up and the windows to defrost before I continued the journey. For the fourth time I turned in prayer to God asking Him to watch over me as I traveled the remaining miles to family and Thanksgiving. God doesn't disappoint and He gave me a Thanksgiving to remember.

As my car began to move forward down the sloping parking lot, I noticed a set of lights coming over the crest from behind. I felt like I would rather be behind another vehicle instead of in front, so I waited for it to pass. It was a West Virginia State snow plow, and I followed it down the mountain with it clearing the way. Praise God from whom all blessings come!

Copyright 1999 Joe Hoover. All Rights Reserved.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.

Return to top of page.

Return to menu of articles available here.

Return to The American Night Watch home page.

Click here for Joe Hoover's e-mail address.

This page was last updated October 22, 1999.