90: The Voice of Change

90: The Voice of Change

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

The Voice of Change

Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer.

~Author Unknown

No one else was in the car with me on the day it happened. Well, almost no one. Speeding on the freeway wasn’t new to me. If I have the need for speed, blame it on either the most popular Tom Cruise movie of the 1980s or my parents. My dad brought home a shiny red DeLorean in 1983, and I fell in love with the aerodynamics, the compact, two-seat design, and the idea that it just looked fast. When I turned sixteen, my mom persuaded my dad to buy me a 300ZX (who does that?). After I married, I graduated to a Mustang GT 5.0 that I drove until we started having children. I willingly gave up the zippy sports cars (and speeding tickets), and for the next seemingly endless string of childbearing years, limped along in a Ford Aerostar full of car seats, McDonald’s fries, and old bottles of dried-up milk.

When the Aerostar died, it was time for a new car. A sensible girl would have chosen something with four doors, perhaps fuel efficiency, or at least a neutral color. Not me. We replaced the nondescript burgundy jalopy with a fiery red Thunderbird that screamed, “Hey cops! Watch this!” And they did. A lot.

With the exception of the Aerostar years, I averaged exactly one speeding ticket every eighteen months — the legal window I had to maintain in order to attend traffic school to remove the infraction from my driving record. When we bought the T-bird that practice resumed. So it isn’t a surprise that I was speeding on the day it happened.

I was a harried mother of three. I’m still harried and a mother of three, but instead of rushing from one school to another or between soccer and baseball practices, I juggle writing schedules, dinners, and my Halloween businesses that require year-round attention. Now, at least, the kids are old enough to get their own food and can even make Starbucks runs for me. But during these years, it was worse because no one else drove. Their father worked out of town, so the details and errands — such as the one I was running that day — were left to me.

At about 4:45 on a warm spring afternoon, I was speeding along the highway trying to get a back seat full of trophies to my son’s baseball party. I was the team mom, so the responsibility rested fully on me. And because I didn’t have the perspective then that I do now, I thought the world would stop its rotation if I walked in ten minutes late. It wasn’t that I didn’t plan well; I just didn’t plan at all.

With no one else in the car, I blasted the radio and was racing within a half mile of my exit when it happened. The Voice. It was so loud that it muted every other noise. When I heard it, I felt my mortality stand at attention:

Slow down, Dana. Your children need you.

I was startled by the voice in such a way that I obeyed the command and yanked my foot off the gas so quickly my knee slammed into the steering wheel. It wasn’t a whisper, more the sound of one commanding from a place of authority — loud and clear, a voice that brooked no argument. Quickly, my eyes darted to the dashboard, where I watched the speedometer drop from 80 mph.

75 mph… What in the world was that? My right foot hovered over the gas pedal as my car began its gradual slowdown.

70 mph… Who was that speaking? Both hands gripped the steering wheel and my eyes continued to watch my speed.

65 mph… Was it my guardian angel?

I know people who’ve lived in faith far longer than I have, people who’ve believed in angels and had a much better relationship with God than I did at the time in my life when I was speeding and carrying on without perspective. I was sure God had much better things to do than to send an angel to watch over a person who had only a mild interest in Him. I was wrong, and He decided to prove His love (and existence) to me right there on a stretch of California highway.

Five seconds after hearing The Voice and the moment my speedometer reached 55 mph, my tire blew.

As pieces of rubber cascaded around me and I could hear my pretty red fender being torn to shreds, I used lessons taught in my high school driver’s ed class to ease the car slowly off the freeway. I was able to hobble up the ramp safely into a fast food restaurant parking lot.

I’m no physicist, but I can presume that a car experiencing a blowout at 80 mph would react differently from one traveling 55 mph. We’ve all seen rollover accidents along freeways; many of them don’t turn out well.

Why me? I don’t know, but it changed me. Why would angels care about one silly, impractical girl when lifelong believers were in need? How was I able to hear the voice so loudly that I avoided catastrophe in my first and only blowout?

I wish I could say that I never speed anymore or that I’ve had another encounter with my guardian angel. I can’t say either of those things, but my walk in my faith changed that day. God really is here, He is real, and He uses His angels to protect even the silly, impractical ones who speed on freeways.

~Dana Martin

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