A car is headed west on Interstate 40 at 65 miles per hour on cruise control. It begins to lean toward the pavement edge, only to be shaken when the tire first hits the rumble strip near the edge of the paved roadway. The driver is me. In the blink of an eye, a message was relayed to my mind … "You have fallen asleep at the wheel, headed off the road toward a concrete overpass, turn the wheel SLIGHTLY to the left."
It had been a rough few days at work, coupled with late night preparation for my calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I packed up my car and headed south toward Las Cruces, N.M., where I was to conduct several business meetings throughout the day which ended around 11 p.m. at night. I had not realized just how tired I was, but obviously my common sense defenses were down when the last meeting ended and I headed for my car.
Instead of following strong impressions to do otherwise, the fact that I had paid for a room in Albuquerque, N.M., and would lose my deposit, combined with a sleep-deprived brain, made sense of somehow driving the three hours to Albuquerque.
Trying to find a short cut to the freeway, I took a wrong turn and ended up on top of a mountain, where the stars were as close and sharp as I had ever seen them. The song "Amarillo by Morning" came to mind, as I tried to make sense of where I had strayed. I was alone, on top of a mountain. It was cold, and no signs pointing which way to go. So I prayed to Heavenly Father, asking for directions. This time, I listened for an impression. It was faint, probably because I had overridden the last one, but I followed what seemed like an impression, along with the trace remains of common sense, and turned around and headed back to find the turnoff I had missed.
Two hours later, I was back on the freeway to Albuquerque. Only three hours to go and to find my bed.
The sign said Albuquerque was 13 miles ahead. The sun was just peeking over the horizon in front of me, causing my eyes to get very heavy. Then I heard a sound much like one would make running the back of your hand across a ribbed metal washboard except this deafening sound with vibrating accompaniment was coming from my tires running across the ribbed cuts in the asphalt highway to alert drivers that they are off the road — and I was!
Light is said to travel at 186,000 miles per second, or 700 million miles per hour. The thought that came into my brain that very moment was faster. It contained a very calm, precise, visual explanation of what had happened: "You have fallen asleep; you are headed toward a concrete overpass; turn the wheel just slightly to the left." I did just that. The car returned to the road and never wavered from the 65 miles per hour cruise control setting.
It took a few moments for my brain and emotions to catch up to one another. When they did I had to pull off the road quickly because the flood of tears that followed blinded everything but my gratitude and love for my Heavenly Father, of which I tearfully expressed without fear of who saw me.
Who was my companion that night along the New Mexico freeway? Was it the Holy Ghost (see 1 Nephi 10:11, 17, 19, 22), the Spirit of God (see 1 Corinthians 3:16), the Light of Christ (see Doctrine and Covenants 88: 7, 11-12), my guardian angel (Doctrine and Covenants 132:16), or just my conscious being, that saved my life?
I was raised in another Christian faith. It was a Norman Rockwell picture of Christian goodness and intent. We dressed in our Sunday best. I often wore a white shirt, bow tie, shorts, socks and sandals. Mom and Dad drove my sister and I to church each Sunday. We attended as a family for a time, but ultimately it was just sis and I who attended regularly.
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