It was dangerously cold. A few drivers slipping and sliding off the road and back on again had cut deep ruts in the slush that were now frozen solid. And the drum of our truck’s erratic engine worried us.
Trees and bushes heavy with snow bent to form an icy tunnel. We inched and lurched along the eerie route as Howard gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to keep the truck in the ruts. We had taken this shortcut because of the limping old truck, and we were now riding through a nightmare with no going back.
I noticed a small house off in the distance as I prayed the truck would not quit. The temperature inside the cab was cool, but for now our two snow-suited children snuggled safe and warm between us.
This was long before cell phones and power steering, and the danger lurking in the cold darkness was real. I continued to send up prayers as I watched Howard’s tense outline and sensed the fear he was feeling.
Fiercely pumping the accelerator didn’t work. The engine’s coughing grew worse. It finally quit, and we came to a bumping stop. Hot tears ran down my face.
Howard’s words, “I will go for help,” ripped apart my common sense, reasoning, and determination to not be a part of the problem. Panic took over. We would take the children—we would walk to that house together!
But the snow was deep, and the children, asleep, were too heavy to carry. My husband convinced me to let him go alone. If no one was home or they didn’t answer the door, he would come back and we’d try to hike out to a main road. But for now, it was safer in the truck.
I wish I could say I had faith, but when he walked away, I was furious with him and the world. Eventually, worn down by emotion and fear, I let a comforting peace softly settle over me. I dozed with the sleeping children beside me. It seemed like hours that passed before I heard a muffled, familiar voice and the kind chuckle of another man as they approached in the crunching snow.
The older fellow invited us to go up to the house where his wife was waiting. He would look at the truck, and Howard was confident they could get it started.
Two wide-awake kids scrambled across the seat, ready for adventure. We set off, and they tumbled and sank down into the snow with each awkward step, rolling like pups. Their voices and laughter carried in the crisp night air.
Christmas lights led up the steps to the house’s porch. When we finally got close, a cheerful woman opened the door. Warm air billowed out, and the smell of hot buttered popcorn and chocolate drew us in.
God had answered and provided. His love shined through a Samaritan couple who answered a stranger’s knock on the door in the middle of a bitterly cold night, and it provided the warmth, shelter and help we so desperately needed. We have never forgotten their kindness.