This is a true story.
I live in a somewhat remote area. And the main road that I use to “get to town” is long and winding with no lighting whatsoever for several miles. When driving on it, you feel as if you are driving through a forest. And along with this forest comes a variety of wildlife: deer, raccoons, turkeys and such that you can almost always find lying beside the roadway because drivers just did not see them in time. It is a long, dark and eerie road.
One morning I was heading out to the gym. It was 4:30 a.m. It was dark and cold and foggy. So I said a quick prayer for a safe journey down this road (the last thing I wanted was a collision with an unsuspecting animal,) and I set off.
I am driving in the dark, around these curves with absolutely no human presence in sight. “What if I have a flat tire? Or hit a deer? There is no one out here to help me.” I thought to myself. But after a while, I saw some taillights in the distance, go around one of the curves. “Wonderful, maybe at least if I leave the road that person up ahead will see me. ” It was a comfort to know I wasn’t alone out there.
But as I drew closer to the vehicle, my comfort turned into concern. You see, if there has ever been a serial killer’s vehicle, THIS WAS IT! It was a beaten up, old white van. It had no windows (perfect for concealing screaming victims.) It was driving conspicuously slowly. It had a skull and crossbones on the back door. If there was ever a sign that danger was afoot, this was it.
Now I am the first to admit that I watch way too much Criminal Minds. And maybe I let that color the way I see the world. So I talked myself out of this growing sense of fear that was welling up inside me. “Lana, you idiot, that is not a serial killer in front of you. It is just an ordinary person who happens to drive a scary van. Besides, you are locked in your car. What could possibly happen to you?”
I am sure by now you all are thinking about how crazy I am, talking to myself as I am driving down the road. I have this overactive imagination and I could only see the worst-case scenario. Who thinks that way? Then it happened.
Right in the middle of this long, dark, deserted road the van stopped. A very large and scary man got out and began walking toward my car! And, if there has ever been a model serial killer, HE WAS IT! He was big, wearing a leather jacket with the sleeves cut out of it, and tattoos covered what skin I could see. He looked just like that guy from Breaking Bad, you know, shaved head, goatee and all. He was purposeful in his walk and definitely had a mission.
What was I going to do? My car was somewhat blocked in by his van, and there was really no way to back up. So as he approached me, I realized in an instant what needed to happen. I had to run over him. Pure and simple. What choice did I have? I couldn’t have my family finding my abandoned vehicle on the side of the road, wondering forever what happened to mom. I couldn’t allow this obviously twisted individual to continue his reign of terror on unsuspecting women. So I took a breath, put my car in gear and got ready to roll.
By the time I made this decision, he was standing directly in front of me. “Good.” I thought. “Now I won’t have to chase him down. This will be easy.” But he began motioning and yelling at me to roll down my window.
“No way. Get out away from my car or I am going to run over you!” I yelled back. He continued to yell for me to roll down my window because he needed directions. Yeah, right. We were in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing out here to get directions to. I continued to yell back, “Forget it” and rev my engine. It was pretty surreal having this ongoing conversation, the serial killer and me. Back and forth with neither of us budging. The clocking ticking down until I took this guy out.
Then something dawned on me. I was still safe in my car. He hadn’t come any closer. He didn’t appear to be holding a weapon. So I took a chance and yelled, “What are you looking for?”
“The race track.” he replied. Oh, the race track. Yes, there is a race track at the very end of this road in the opposite direction. So I yelled “Turn around and keep going until you run into it.” But I did not roll down my window. For all I know, he is a killer that like to race cars.
He seemed to realize that this was all he was going to get out of me, so he gave up and walked back to his van, calling me crazy as he went. I drove on to the gym, parked directly under a light post and ran inside. All the while I was thanking God that I didn’t have to kill somebody on my way to work out. That was the end of my encounter with sure death.
I can laugh about that event now, even though it was very scary at the time. But it brings to life a deep truth for most of us. We all will encounter scary things in this life, either real or imagined. We all will have times in which we honestly don’t know what to do or where to go, for we fear what is standing right in front of us. We fear the outcome of our decisions. We fear being trapped and unable to help ourselves.
I am sharing today a gracious gift of God, in the form of Psalm 91. It hangs in my children’s room. It is the first psalm I have taught them. We read it anytime any of us is scared. It has become a reminder of our Rock and our Fortress, and our Protector that never fails.
I share it today because I know many of us are dealing with scary things right now. Be strengthened friends, our God loves you and will never forsake you.
1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”