Miracle in the Storm

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Christmas 1967 might have been a delightful but ordinary time except for one thing. Mother and Daddy drove from Alabama to Massachusetts to spend the Christmas holiday with us. They traveled in their new four-door Thunderbird, which was the prettiest car they had ever owned. Before they made the long trip north, Daddy had it serviced at the local garage.

We had a wonderful time together and did all the seasonal things. We attended Christmas Eve service at church, wrapped and later unwrapped presents, talked, joked, baked, and argued about whether this year's dressing in the turkey was as good as last year's.

The beautiful white Christmas was perfect for New England. Then the day came for my parents to leave. The snow had piled high on the ground and the weather reports predicted more. I was a little worried and asked them to stay.

Daddy wasn't concerned. "I've driven in heavy snow many times," he reminded us. He also pointed out that they would drive on the then-new interstate highways. "Besides, I have a new car and it's in top condition. I don't expect any problems getting home."

They considered stopping at a motel until the storm blew over, but decided to drive through to Alabama. Somewhere in Connecticut, a blinding snowstorm caught them. Daddy had about a five-foot visibility. He slowed the car to a crawl. They hadn't seen any other vehicles for a long time and no snowplows had come through.

Just then, his right-rear tire blew. The car jolted and thudded as the rim of the wheel took the weight. He pulled the car to the side of the road. The visibility hadn't improved and snow pelted the car. He was weak and feverish. Neither he nor Mother had any idea where they were except somewhere in Connecticut. That happened long before the day of cell phones.

Daddy had a choice: He could wait until someone came along to help—and neither of them had any idea when that would happen—or he could get out in the blizzard and change it himself.

"Sit tight," he told Mother. "I'll change it as quickly as I can."

"Let me help—"

"One of us out in the storm is enough. No sense in your getting sick. Stay inside, pray, and keep warm."

Mother was upset over the flat tire. She also felt concerned about his safety. They had heard terrible stories of people being robbed on the highway. After Daddy got out of the car, she folded her hands together, closed her eyes, and prayed, "Dear God, please help us."

No sooner had Daddy opened the trunk to take out the jack than two young men appeared. Surprised, Daddy looked up. He had no idea where they came from and didn't see another car. His immediate reaction was, Oh, they're going to rob us. Maybe kill us.

"Hello there!" one of them called in a cheery voice.

"Sir, we'll be glad to change the tire for you."

"Thank you, but—"

"Please, get back in the car, sir," the second man said. "It's freezing out here. We'll change the tire."

Afraid to argue with them, Daddy nodded and turned back. He got inside the car.

"You haven't changed the tire already?" Mother said.

He shook his head and took her hand. She couldn't see what was going on, so Daddy explained about the two men.

"Do you think it's safe?" she asked.

"I don't know," he said. "But they don't seem bad. Besides, we don't have a choice, do we?"

Mother continued to pray.

The two men changed the tire quickly and put the jack and the flat inside the trunk. After they finished, one of them tapped on the window. Daddy lowered the window.

"It's all done, sir." He waved and they started to walk away.

"Wait! Let me pay you something."

It took a few seconds for Daddy to roll up the window and get out of the car. He looked around and couldn't see the two men.

Puzzled, he walked to the back of the car. The new tire was on but they were gone. He looked around. He couldn't see evidence that a truck or car had stopped. He turned in the direction the two men had gone.

He saw no footprints except his own.

When he got back inside the car, he explained the strange situation to my mother.

"God answered my prayer," she said. "He sent two angels."

"Do you think they were angels? Really?"

"Christmas angels," she said. "Sent by God to help us, and they left when their job was done. In the Bible, isn't that how angels did things?"

More than forty years have passed since that Christmas and my parents have told the story many, many times. Most people believe it; a few remain skeptical.

"It doesn't matter whether you believe," my mother would answer. "We know that we had a true Christmas miracle in Connecticut when two angels watched over us by changing our flat tire in the middle of a snow storm."

© Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson. Published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 www.stmartins.com Used by permission. 

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