It was Christmas 1977. My wife, I, and our seven-month-old son were traveling from South-Central California to Portland, Oregon, in a two-door Toyota. We had packed carefully since we would be gone for a week and needed many things for the baby. We had enough gifts and other stuff to make the back seat level with the bottom of the back window.
Along with the other gifts, we were taking three sets of three pint-sized glass jars of honey (sage, orange, and alfalfa), packed in wooden gift crates decorated for Christmas. Somehow these were the last items packed into the trunk. The only space left was a narrow three-inch wide area between some boxes and the back of the car near the left tail light. I had to push and hold the boxes to make the honey crates fit.
We left the morning of Christmas Eve, asking God to protect us on this wintery trip. As we drove over the Siskiyou Summit south of Ashland, Oregon, we were hit from behind, and the car spun around on the ice and snow, ending up on the right side against a snow bank. My first thoughts were the safety of my wife and son. Everyone was unharmed except for our sore necks.
All of a sudden, I remembered those nine glass jars of honey in little wooden gift crates! I knew there was a mess in the trunk that could take days to clean up. After getting out, I found the left rear was smashed so far that the wheel well of the car was pressed against the tire. We needed to be towed on Christmas Eve (cash only please)!
Reaching into the trunk between boxes and the metal of the car, I extracted with great effort three wooden crates with nine unbroken glass jars of honey! Why did God allow the accident? Was there a place further down the freeway where we might have slid off the road, over a cliff and been killed? Was it because God knew the story would be retold many times as a testimony to His care? I don’t know, but I do know that unbroken jars of honey were a divine sign to me that God was watching over us—even through the accident. And that was an even better Christmas gift than the sweetest honey!
Dennis Hollingsead works in the Office of Development at Andrews University. This story first appeared in the bulletin of Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan on December 14, 2013. It is reprinted here with permission.
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