The pre-Christmas snowstorm had blanketed a wide patch of rural eastern Pennsylvania, and Chris Clark Davidson probably should have waited until the roads were plowed before she, her mother and her two small sons attempted a drive. But Chris's grandmother lived alone over a hundred miles away, and couldn't get out to buy groceries. "We'll be fine," Chris reassured her mother. "We'll take that shortcut that we use all summer."
They found the shortcut, and turned onto it. Chris had forgotten how narrow the road was, especially with drifts piled high, and wind blowing snow across the fields. Usually chatting on previous drives, neither woman had noticed how deserted the area was. When another vehicle roared around a curve, Chris swerved, and skidded into a snowbank. The other car kept going.
The wheels spun uselessly as she tried to pull out. "Mommy, are we stuck?" toddler Phillip asked, from under his blanket in the back seat.
"Looks that way, honey," Chris admitted. They had only seen that one car since they'd turned onto the shortcut. How long would it be before someone came along? How long before the freezing temperature invaded the car's interior? And why, oh why, had she worn SANDALS and pantyhose instead of warm boots?
Chris got out, her feet plunging into a high drift, and looked around. Lord, please send us some help, she prayed. Then she saw it--a silo and barn roof peeking up from the hills, about a quarter-mile away. "Mom," Chris leaned in the car, "I'll walk down to that barn and see if anyone's there. Keep the kids warm."
Cold Journey, Warm Helpers
The journey was incredibly cold, and by the time Chris pushed open the barn door, her feet were icy. A welcome blast of heat greeted her, along with the mooing of heifers in their stalls. It was a working dairy, clean and well organized, with a shiny window fan circulating the air. Even better, Chris heard young male voices behind a stall. Maneuvering around fresh manure, she followed the sound and came upon two farmhands in overalls and flannel shirts, kidding and teasing each other. They stopped and smiled when they saw her, and quickly she explained the situation.
"Stay here!" one said, tramping past the cows and out the door. A few moments later, Chris heard a horn honking in front of the barn. There he was, driving a blue pickup truck. "Get in!" he shouted. Chris hesitated. She didn't know these men. And yet there was something so merry about them that she couldn't feel afraid. She and the other farmhand scrambled into the pickup, and bounced down the road. There was the car, her toddlers bundled up and Mom waving. The driver roared across the field, spun in a wide circle and screeched into position in front of it. "'Way to go!" his buddy yelled.
Chris gripped the seat. "Do you always drive like this?" she asked, only half joking.
The driver shrugged. "Well, it ain't our truck."
Within minutes, the men had freed Chris's car, and she opened her purse to reward them. But both backed away. "It was our pleasure, Ma'am. Just drive safely."
Not like you, Chris grinned as she pulled away. But they had been wonderful guys.
Vacancy: Silo for Sale
Chris didn't realize just how wonderful until two weeks later when she and her mother decided to make a return visit to her grandmother. Since the snow was almost melted now, the short cut was safer. Soon the silo and barn roof came into view. "Let's stop and let the guys know we made it to Grandma's that day," Chris suggested. But when they pulled up in front, where Chris had climbed into the blue truck, she could hardly believe her eyes.
For the barn was vacant and shabby, the paint was peeling, and the door hinges were hanging loose. Bewildered, Chris wiped away a heavy film of dirt and cobwebs on the milk house window and peered inside. Where were the heifers, the floors littered with fresh manure? Even the fan was rusty. "You couldn't have seen any farmhands or cattle there," the woman at the next house told Chris. "No one's worked that property for years."
Chris got in the car. "Am I crazy, Mom?" she asked.
"No." Her mother was firm. "This is definitely the place."
Then how? Suddenly Chris understood, and like the shepherds at that first Christmas, she was filled with awe. Her angels had worn blue jeans instead of white robes. But, they had delivered the same timeless message, to her and to anyone willing to listen:
Fear not. The Savior is here, and He cares about you. Alleluia!