She was out of control and heading toward boulders
- Posted on Dec 26, 2018
Wind whipped through my hair as I flew over the snow. It was glorious! Until my snowmobile sputtered beneath me. Not again. I slowed to a stop. My friends zoomed ahead on the snow-covered trails through the woods, maneuvering easily, dodging trees and rocks.
I’d never ridden a snowmobile before today. But when I met some folks who invited me up to the trails outside Twisp, Washington, I jumped at the chance. Excitement? Count me in. I went scuba diving, climbed mountains, even jumped out of airplanes. Did I ever worry about hurting myself? Never! I was young and invincible. I’d gotten a few bruises here and there, but I couldn’t imagine getting seriously hurt. Not me. Especially on this slow-mobile I was riding.
One of the group headed back toward me. “Conked out again?” he said as he swished up beside me.
I lifted my goggles. “Yes. Again. This is frustrating.” Speeding through the snow was so much fun, but sputtering to a stop every 10 minutes was anything but. We’d been out over an hour and I wanted to race over the snow.
“Why don’t we switch?” he said.
“I was hoping you’d say that.” I quickly climbed onto his big, shiny snowmobile, put my goggles back on and tightened my helmet’s chin strap.
“This one’s more powerful than the one you’re riding,” my friend said.
“You need to be careful with it.”
“I can handle it.” I was an expert by now, after all.
I settled myself on the seat and started the engine. Right away I could feel its power. I stepped on the accelerator and off I went, speeding through the snowy forest. The machine ran like a dream, except for a slight pull to the left that made it a bit difficult to steer. I accelerated, which made it easier. A little more acceleration and it wasn’t pulling at all. This is better!
All at once a field full of boulders came into view up ahead. I gripped the handlebars and prepared to make a sharp right turn to avoid them. My eyes dropped to my speedometer: 89 miles per hour. That fast? I squeezed my brakes hard and jerked the handlebars to the right.
The snowmobile kept going straight. It didn’t slow a bit. It couldn’t. I’m not touching the ground! I realized. I was airborne and headed straight for that field of boulders. I lifted my eyes to the sky. Well, God, here goes.
I waited for the fear to hit me. The fear of knowing I was about to be seriously hurt, if not killed. Instead I felt complete peace. I was not afraid.
The snowmobile hit a boulder and I was launched out of the seat. I smashed through the windshield and sailed into the air, over the boulders, my arms straight at my sides, as if I’d been shot out of a cannon. I must have looked like a small missile flying over those huge rocks. To my right I heard a crash.
My flight ended with a muffled thump that put me facedown in a soft patch of snow. I was afraid to move. I carefully shifted an arm, a leg. Wow, I feel great. I had landed perfectly in a tight space between several boulders. Even my arms had been protected by being straight at my sides. It was as if God had picked me up by the collar and said, “I think I’ll put you down right…here.”
Someone was calling my name. The friend who’d switched snowmobiles with me came running, jumping from boulder to boulder to the spot where I lay. He pulled me out of the snow and turned me over.
“I’m fine,” I said. “Really, I’m fine.”
“I should have given you a stronger warning,” he said. “You could have been killed.” He was almost in tears.
It wouldn’t have done any good. Some lessons just have to be learned the hard way. But this time wasn’t one of them, at least not for me. In the distance I saw smoke and flames coming from where the snowmobile had crashed. But God had spared me. If I was indestructible that day, it was only by God’s grace.
Today I still like adventure. I go hiking, swimming and cycling. But that daredevil girl I used to be is long gone. I know my limits, and I know God’s the only one who has none.
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