Monday, June 05, 2006

Blizzard Housecleaning

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About five years ago I was driving from New York to Michigan with a friend when we suddenly found ourselves battling mother nature at its worst. How we survived was a direct testimony to the power of prayer to get us through a harrowing experience. It happened in the middle of winter.

See if you can find within the story which part of the HEAR Principle was used (Have a passion, Entertain the possibilities, Act on your intuition, Remember who helped you).

Enjoy!

We were on our way from New York to Michigan and had driven seven hundred miles without incident when my friend and I decided to stop at a gas station in a tiny rural town of Canada. It was time for coffee and a quick trip to the bathroom. Climbing out of the car, I looked up at the sky. It was dark and ominous, almost foreboding. The air was uncomfortably damp, and it was drizzling lightly.

I went to the rest room and scurried back to the car. Even though the gas tank was only half-empty, I felt it best to refill it. Normally, I would have waited until the fuel gauge flashed me a warning sign. However, I filled it up, paid for it with a credit card, and hurried back to the freeway.

To my delight, it began to snow. But in the blink of an eye, it swirled down harder and harder, sharply reducing visibility. In a matter of minutes it was nightfall, and I was forced to slow the car to a crawl. My stomach tightened for the first time that night.

Roads were fast turning to ice, and the wind blew harder with each passing minute. It felt as if I were piloting a small aircraft through turbulence. We had to find a hotel, quickly.

Eventually my friend and I saw what we both thought was a sign for hotel accommodations right before an exit. The blinding storm made it difficult for us to see it clearly, but we decided to take a chance and got off the freeway.

About a mile down the road, we spotted a lone car up ahead of us. Thinking they were from the area, we followed them, but after a few minutes, we realized they were lost too. We had no choice but to go back the other way.

Turning the car around on the narrow two-lane road was no easy feat. The wind was howling menacingly all around us. The possibility of being windswept into the ditches was real—very real. With the greatest concentration I could muster, I took a deep breath and swung the car back and forth, inches at a time, to turn around.

Suddenly the rear wheels spun like crazy.

It was a sickening feeling. Despite the danger of sinking even deeper into the snow, I continued to rock the car until the wheels finally caught on and the car miraculously lurched forward.

Thank God.

We went the other way, my heart pounding wildly. There was no sign of life on the ghostly white landscape. My friend convinced me to get back on the freeway and perhaps find an overpass for temporary shelter until the storm blew over.

I looked at the gas meter. Incredibly, it was still full.

Hunching over the steering wheel and squinting my eyes, I tried to see through the howling blizzard to find the ramp, but it was nearly impossible to see where I was going.

In the midst of all this, somehow I remembered I was carrying in my right pocket a small stone with FAITH inscribed across the surface. My right hand shook as I reached down to touch the smooth, polished rock. Wrapping my hand around the stone, I closed my eyes and mumbled, “Dear God, please get us back on the freeway. Please guide us home now.”

When I opened my eyes, my mouth dropped in astonishment. We had made it to the freeway entrance! How we got there, I’ll never know.

Clutching the steering wheel, I slowly drove up the icy ramp, completely relying on the small yellow reflectors shimmering in the glare of the car’s headlights. Finally back on the freeway, we continued the treacherous journey, driving at a snail’s pace for the longest time.

A few hours later we saw several beams of light in the distance, resembling a small, bustling city. I breathed a sigh of relief.

However, as we got closer, we saw it wasn’t a city --- it was a bunch of cars and trucks stuck in the ditches (on both sides of the road) with their headlights illuminating and crisscrossing the snowy night sky!

At this point, past and current problems totally vanished from my mind. I found myself mentally forgiving everyone who had “wronged” me in the past. I released all my resentments, anger and ego-related issues. My biggest concern that night was to get home alive. Never before had I done so much mental housecleaning in one night!

Nine hours later our weary, bleary eyes saw the most beautiful sign we had ever seen:

BRIDGE TO USA, 27 MILES.

We were home.

Who says God doesn’t know how to give you a good cause for mental housecleaning?

He even paid for the gas. The charge never showed up on my credit card!
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1 Comments:

Blogger Tony Brigmon said...

Stephen...

In response to your question as to which part of the HEAR Principle was used in your story: There are two that stand out.

1. Act on your intuition
- You did that by filling up your car with gas, by praying, by touching your "faith stone" to reinforce your own faith.

2. Remember who helped you
- You did that by your reference to God and by posting your experience here on your blogger.

There is another "remember" here:
Remember the lessons learned

Here are a few that came to me as I read your story:
- "Prayer can solve more problems and bring about greater peace and contentment than can be obtained in any other way." - Thomas S. Monson

- Mental HouseCleaning is good. Mentally forgiving everyone who had “wronged” you in the past and releasing all you resentments, anger and ego-related issues brought you peace. Chances are it will do the same the next time you do it.

- Gratitude expressed is better than gratitude unexpressed. My biggest concern that night was to get home alive. Never before had I done so much mental housecleaning in one night!

Great story, Stephen. Thanks for sharing.

Tony Brigmon

9:38 AM  

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