I hope you enjoy this sample of my work.
© 2014 Amy L.Magaw
Not to be used without permission.
"Against All Odds"
Don’t speak to strangers. That’s what I’ve always been taught. And yet the Bible says in Hebrews 13:2, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Some Christians may choose to believe that this doesn’t happen today; but after an eventful three hour road trip, I know I will never ignore this verse again.
It had been one of those weeks when everything goes wrong—not big things, but little things here, and little things there. They just added up. The little Chevy Cavalier that we had borrowed to help save gas on my college commute had a sensor panel that started lighting up like a Christmas tree about ten minutes into my one-and-a-half hour one-way trip.
I’m not an expert on automotive repair by any means, so I called my husband. He said for me to keep a close eye on the temperature gauge to make sure that the engine did not overheat. We couldn’t afford to replace the head on this little car, which was a loaner from my brother.
I kept my eyes focused on that gauge, for the next thirty minutes on Interstate 26 Westbound heading towards Newberry, South Carolina. As expected, I ran into the five o’clock traffic in the Columbia, the capital city. As I strategically weaved in between lanes to avoid getting caught in the wrong lane, I was particularly proud of myself. I still kept a close eye on the temperature gauge, and the old little car was flying just fine. Just one more exit left in the city, and then it should be smooth sailing straight to Newberry. We’re not running hot, and everything looks good.
I passed the final Columbia exit, and sure enough, the traffic thinned out, as did the exits—there is not much in between Columbia and Newberry. Just when I thought I was home free, the Cavalier began to slow down involuntarily. My eyes immediately went to the engine light, which was still shining; then to the temperature gauge, which was fine; but I failed to notice that another light had turned on—the gas light. The car was now beginning to shut off, and I did the best that I could to steer it onto the shoulder of the interstate, very close to the off ramp of the next exit. I was out of gas.
A thousand scenarios ran through my mind, and none of them were good. I called my husband who was at work, two and a half hours away. He could not come to my rescue. There was nothing left to do, but grab my purse, lock the doors, and head for a gas station at the next exit. The late afternoon sun of mid-April beat down like a heavy hammer and the smell of tar-laced asphalt filled my lungs. As I walked along the shoulder in my long skirt and panty hose, sweat ran down my back. My tongue began to swell as I craved a drink of water. I held my car keys defensively, with the longest key sticking out of my clinched fist between my index and middle finger. I was praying on the inside for the best, but I was prepared for the worst. Please, don’t let anyone stop for me.
Almost as soon as I thought the words, I heard a car rolling up behind me. Terror crept up my spine. I could see the headlines on my hometown newspaper: “Local Pastor’s Wife Abducted and Murdered on I-26.” As the window of the very new pearl-colored Cadillac STS rolled down, I saw a middle aged man’s smiling face offering me assistance.
Years of school teachers’, Sunday school teachers’ and public service announcements’ warnings flooded my mind. “Don’t ever get into a car with a stranger,” I have always been told.
“Are you out of gas?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” I answered.
“Would you like a ride up to the next gas station?”
As soon as the words were spoken, an unexplainable peace flooded my soul. Get in the car—everything will be okay, a voice seemed to say in my heart. Every warning that I’d ever heard from teachers, parents, and after-school specials screamed for me to keep walking. I knew what statistics said. But again, the voice in my heart told me that I would be okay. Against my own understanding, I took God at His Word, and I got into the car.
Upon sitting in his very nice, very air-conditioned, expensive car, the man began to make small talk as he realized the awkwardness of the situation. I was able to read his work badge just a little from where I sat. His name was Joe. The logo on the badge belonged to a hospital, but it was strange—I’d never heard of that hospital system before. I’d lived in South Carolina almost all my life, and I’ve known all the major hospital systems in the Columbia area. His badge was not from any of them.
He explained that he was new in the area and that he really only traveled I-26 and I-20 to work. Strangely enough, he never said where he worked. He only mentioned that he had recently come to South Carolina from Florida. During this conversation, he drove me to the gas station where I purchased a gas can that he filled with gas for me. We made the loop back around to my car. He filled the gas tank for me, and then had me start the car and run it for a while to ensure that everything was working properly.
I was able to share a Gospel tract with him, accenting my husband’s church contact information printed on the back.
“If you are ever in our area, please let us know so that we can repay your kindness,” I begged, as I handed him the tract.
He said that he would, and bid me safety on my trip.
I drove away with a sigh of relief. When Joe offered me a ride, the Holy Spirit comforted me and I knew in the recesses of my heart that everything was going to be okay. Under God’s leading, I had gone against all odds, and He had delivered. To this day, I am still convinced that Joe was not who he appeared to be. I am also convinced that I will see him again—either as one of the Redeemed, or as one of God’s Guardians sent to protect his child on a hot April afternoon.