May 4, 2012

The Voice on the Road

My wife, Karen, and I enjoy exploring old roads and trails in our four-wheel-drive Blazer. At the outset of such ventures we pray for God’s protection. Whether our prayers have been formal invocations or only brief, silent requests, He always has kept us safe. Sometimes we have been aware immediately of God’s protection; on other occasions we learned of it later. It’s likely that many times we’ve never even realized we were in danger. On one occasion, though, I may have been privileged to hear God’s voice—or perhaps that of a guardian angel.
One morning when Karen and I, together with some friends, were exploring a long-since-abandoned mining region of the Chuckwalla Mountains in the Colorado Desert of southeastern California. Located north of little-known and even less-visited Gulliday Well, it was a particularly remote area.
We had turned off Bradshaw Trail, a dirt road recommended for four-wheel-drive vehicles only, onto a seldom-used two-rut trace that was barely visible in spots. We had progressed only two or three miles along the road when it suddenly disappeared under a heavy layer of debris that obviously had washed down from the Chuckwallas.     
Despite the debris, the general contours of the land had not changed, and I thought I remembered them well enough to go ahead without getting lost. Both vehicles had four-wheel drive, and we were adequately equipped in other ways as well.
By the time we reached Gulliday Well we had left the debris behind and were enjoying the sights along the road. Wildflowers were in bloom, and we paused frequently to take photos.
2012 1502 page31We drove along the edge of a fairly deep dry wash* and were approaching a curve when what I interpreted to be an audible voice said, “Stop.” It was expressed as a command, so I stopped. Almost immediately I felt embarrassed, because Karen was the only person in the Blazer with me, and the voice sounded like that of a man. I couldn’t really say that I had heard an actual sound, yet it had been much more than just a thought. Looking around, I saw no one except our friends approaching behind us in their Jeep.
“What is it?” Karen asked.
I mumbled lamely, “I thought I heard something.”
We started forward again. The road ahead curved left over a steep, three-foot rise onto a ledgelike formation at the edge of the wash. We had been there several times before, so we knew what to expect. We had moved ahead a short distance until the front end of our vehicle had almost reached the top of the rise, when I heard the voice again: “Stop, now!” This time the command sounded urgent as well as authoritative. Again I stopped. I could see nothing of the road ahead, though, because my vision was blocked by the hood of our vehicle.
I couldn’t get out; we were parked too close to an outcrop of solid rock on the driver’s side for me to open my door. So I asked Karen, “Would you mind checking the road ahead?”
Karen opened her door and stepped out, but she didn’t walk forward. Instead, she gasped, “Oh!” and got back into the vehicle. “There isn’t any road ahead!” she said.
After backing up a little, we checked the road more carefully. It ended abruptly at a 30-foot drop-off—straight down!
We placed some rocks in the road as a warning to drivers of other vehicles, and then made our way back unharmed.
I have often wondered about the voice I heard twice that day. Whose was it? I believe I know: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (Ps. 34:7).
We always will be thankful for the voice that delivered us from danger.
* A wash is an intermittent stream channel formed by flash floods.
Delmer G. Ross writes from Riverside, California. This article was published January 19, 2012.?