When you’re expecting football and get saltmarsh instead

Yesterday, as the sun was setting and football fans were gearing up for the Super Bowl and watching incredibly expensive commercials, our family was driving home from visiting my parents in South Carolina. Our trusty old minivan started having some problems, as indicated by the variety of warning lights that lit up the dashboard. We were hoping to make it home, or at least to a nice place to stop and call for help. But there on Highway 17, in the midst of saltmarshes and billboards, within sight of the Talmadge Bridge, all the gauges stopped working, and we coasted to a stop on the one little patch of concrete on the shoulder of the road.

My call to AAA started out a bit comical as I tried to describe our exact location. No crossroads nearby. No businesses except we were kind of between two “adult” dance clubs, but they were quite a distance away. We were near a billboard for machine guns, which surprised me as I read it. And another billboard for a car dealership. Other than that, it was saltmarsh.

Jasmine the Friendly AAA Woman finally was able to pinpoint our location, but the not-so-friendly computer would not accept the remoteness of this place where we were just thankful, and a little surprised, to have cell phone service. After consulting with her supervisor and keeping me on hold for an incredibly long time, Jasmine announced a tow truck had been alerted and would call me soon.

When Chris the Tow Truck Driver called, he had some random address for us, but I was able to explain where we were, and he was on his way. In the meantime, Jon called his brother, Karl, who was on his way with a friend, leaving the Super Bowl behind to pick up our family.

By this time, darkness had settled over the marsh and the highway, punctuated by headlights of cars rushing by. Will grumbled a little about missing the Super Bowl. Anna noticed the stars. The windows fogged over as it grew colder outside.

Karl and his friend, Al, arrived, and soon the kids and I were on our way home, having to leave Jon with the van to wait for the tow truck. By the time we got home, Jon was riding in the tow truck, taking the van to the shop. I dropped the kids off at Grandma’s house, and drove Jon’s car to go meet him.

The special surprise for the evening was that our truck, which had been borrowed for a few weeks, was suddenly returned to town, and Jon and I were able to pick it up on our way home. So we will not be down to one vehicle while our minivan is in the shop, which makes life so much easier.

Although the evening didn’t go as we had expected, and we missed half of the Super Bowl (a big deal to some of us), we can see God’s protection and provision in so many ways. Safety. That little patch of concrete. Cell phone service in a remote location. People able to leave what they were doing to come help us. Our third vehicle being returned just when we needed it most.

We made it safe and sound to a tv in time for the half-time show (though I don’t see what was so wonderful about Beyoncé, but whatever). It was a big, colorful, flashy, exciting show to be sure. But even better, to me, was the quiet, sure, steady presence of God with our family that night on the highway between the marshes.

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