Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Out in the Cold

My An Arkie's Faith column from the January 24, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

This past week, my hometown has seen the coldest temperatures in over twenty years. On the coldest morning, the temperature was five degrees with a wind chill of minus thirteen. Because of the unusually low temps, the working conditions at my shop were very cold. My old, drafty, uninsulated, shop building has only space heaters for heat. On the bitterly cold days, the heaters could do little more than keep the temperature above freezing. Like many other people in the area, I had water pipes that were frozen. As I worked, I longed for warmer weather.

According to an article published by the Associated Press, “a record-breaking blast of cold closed schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads in a corner of the country ill-equipped to deal with the wintry weather. At least ten people died.” Cold weather can be deadly, and each winter many people lose there lives because of the cold.

I grew up in Colorado and experienced lots of snow and cold weather. I can still remember how frightened I was the day that I experienced a Colorado blizzard. It was a fairly nice winter day with temperatures in the forties. I was listening to the radio while I worked. It seemed like every few minutes there was a bulletin warning of a significant winter storm that was fast approaching. As I listened to the warnings on the radio, I decided that because I had a twenty-five-mile drive home, I should head home early.

By the time I headed home in my little Ford Pinto, the snow was coming down. Soon the snowfall was so heavy that visibility was almost zero. Before long I began to get worried. The snow was already so deep that the ditches were full of snow and I couldn’t tell where the edge of the road was. As I inched my way along, I frequently stopped the car and got out to find the edge of the road. I knew that if I slipped off the road in my little Pinto, I would never be able to get out. My progress was very slow, and the storm intensified as time went on. I began to regret not grabbing a coat that morning. My mind wandered to stories of people who were stranded after sliding off of the road in a blizzard.

While I was driving slowly down the road, I noticed my wheels starting to slip. I soon realized that I wasn’t making any progress. I was on a fairly steep hill, and the little Pinto couldn’t make it up the hill. I carefully backed down the hill and tried following my tracks with all of the speed that I dared. I made it a bit farther but still couldn’t get over the hill. When I got out of the car to survey my situation, I noticed a driveway just off to my left. I pulled into the driveway and sat there for a while. I didn’t know what to do. After about a half hour, I shut the car off because my gas gauge showed almost empty. In my hurry to get home I had forgotten to gas up. Before long it was quite cold in the car. I hadn’t seen one other car on this lonely stretch of county road. I began to get worried and prayed to God for a way out of my situation.

When the blizzard let up a bit, I could see a house off in the distance at the end of a long driveway. I got out of the car and walked up to the house. I knocked on the front door and got no answer. I went around to the back and knocked again. Still no answer. After standing in the snow and shivering for a bit, I checked the door to see if it was locked. The back door was unlocked. I opened it and stepped into a mudroom with boots, coats, a sink, and a couple of old metal chairs. After a few minutes, I took one of the coats of off the hook and put it on. I hoped the owners would understand.

I sat there, a bit more comfortable because of the coat, and thought about my troubles. I knew that my wife was worried about me, but I had no way to let her know about my situation. The door into the house from the mudroom had three small windows. I looked through the windows and noticed a phone hanging on the wall. I tried the doorknob, and it was unlocked. I felt terrible about going into the home of a stranger, but I didn’t know what else to do. I made a quick call to my wife to let her know that I was safe, but had no idea when I would be able to get home. Then I went back into the mudroom.

Over the next hour, I made several trips back to my car to see if the conditions had changed. The snow wasn’t coming down as hard, and visibility had improved. On one of these trips, a four wheel drive pickup drove up the hill leaving tracks to follow. I got in my little Pinto, backed down to the bottom of the hill, drove as fast as I could up the hill and made it over the top. In a few minutes, I was able to make it safely home. I’m sure that the owners of the home never knew that they had been my salvation.

Gentle Reader, that memorable scenario happened forty years ago. I don’t think I have ever been colder or more concerned about my safety. While He was talking to His disciples about signs of His coming at the end of the world, Jesus said, “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24:12,13 (NKJV) Don’t let your love grow cold. Jesus has promised to save those who endure to the end. “God is to us a God of deliverances; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.” Psalms 68:20 (NASB) Whenever you feel the cold of the world surrounding you, remember the promise found in Micah 7:7 (NKJV) “I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.”

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