Road trips, heat stroke and detecting the hand of God

Sometimes the hand of God working in your life is pretty difficult to miss. 

This summer, at the peak of the heat wave that baked the Midwest with triple-digit temperatures for days on end, my family took a small road trip. We crossed the state line between Indiana and Illinois in the early afternoon, and the thermometer on the car dash was reading an outside temperature of 99 degrees. 

For miles one of my daughters had been reminding me that we hadn’t eaten lunch yet, so we decided to stop, stretch our legs and make some sandwiches.  

As we took the next exit we came to, we followed two motorcycles down the ramp, noticed them parking off to the side, and nearly toppling over in the process. We saw that one of the motorcycle passengers was slumped over and nearly falling onto the hot pavement. 

We rolled down the window and asked if we could help. It took a second for them in their panic to even notice we were there. 

The rider we had seen slumped over was unconscious from being overheated. Luckily, we had our lunch cooler full of ice handy, so we tied some in one of the bikers’ bandanas, sat the heat victim in the front passenger seat of our car with the air conditioning running at full blast and placed the ice bundle on the back of her neck. 

Meanwhile, one of the other bikers shakily called 911 and was told an ambulance was on the way. 

The intervening time — probably 20 minutes — felt like an eternity. The heat victim drifted in and out of consciousness, sometimes talking normally and sometimes making no sense. 

It was frightening. At one point, one of the bikers leaned his head in the open car door, looked back at my kids, who were quietly taking it all in, and said, “I know this must be scary for you. It’s all right. Your parents are doing a very good thing here.” 

Once the medics arrived, and the heat victim was safely buckled to a stretcher in the back of the ambulance, the bikers thanked us profusely, hugging my wife and me repeatedly. 

With that our road trip resumed. But we had no doubt that providence had used us, nudging us onto that isolated exit at that very moment, and making it blindingly clear what we had to do. 

Humbled by that awareness, I began reflecting on how many other occasions there are like that but I miss because I’m caught up in distractions or my own concerns or just the numbness of the daily routine. 

How much grace and goodness and mini-miracles are we missing out on because we are blind to God’s constant presence? 

It is a good thing to think about on vacation. I came away with a new commitment to cultivate a greater practice of awareness of God’s hand.  

How often do you detect God’s presence in your life? Write