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My journey: When God planned my coffee break

By Janette Tank

Coffee ... Yes, that sounds fantastic ...

Lost in thoughts of a favorite hot drink, I carefully drove down the switchbacks that etch the eastern cliffs of Utah’s Zion National Park. The sun had started to rise over the distant hills, and soon I would be squinting against the blinding early morning light.

Working at the local outdoor adventure guide service, part of my job included driving the shuttle. This morning, I had hopped into the newer of our two white, 15-passenger Suburbans and taken off into the darkness. I soon arrived at the Park visitor center where I met my three clients.

An hour and a half later, I dropped off the three hikers at Zion’s most popular trailhead. Now I was headed back to the visitor center for my 9 a.m. pickup. But before that, I’d get some real coffee.

By about 8:13 a.m., I was almost through the last of the dangerous switchbacks. My cup of real coffee was ever so close.

As I followed the leftward sweep in the road, a large hump of earth suddenly revealed a white pickup truck in the left lane.

In a flash, a blinding wall of light hit my windshield. The truck tires and headlights in the left lane ahead were barely discernable.

Bounce, jolt, heave — swerving off the road, I was repeatedly and forcefully thrown into and out of my seat, slamming into the seat belt and gratefully noting my head avoided the ceiling.

Panic turned to prayer. God! Watch over me!

The Suburban slammed into a massive tree. I flew forward, immediately braced by the seat belt. All was quiet. Smoke crept out from under the crumpled hood.

Gathering my thoughts, I knew I had to get out. I turned the ignition off, clicked off the lights and jumped out.

I had to get help. Thankfully, I’d already been spotted. A young man was quickly picking his way through the rough, sloped terrain. Having witnessed me racing over the edge, he was taken aback that I was in one piece.

When I returned that day with a co-worker, I took in the crash site with some amazement. Had the Suburban left the road slightly to the left of my exit point, I would have launched into a line of very hardy pine trees at a full 35 mph. Had I exited to the right, I would have launched off of a large, flat boulder and crashed into even more boulders farther down the ravine. The driver’s side of the shuttle was almost untouched, while the empty passenger side took the brunt of the impact.

That morning, all I really wanted was coffee — not an epic story of survival. But God chose to demonstrate His amazing capacity for divine guidance through the depths of the unknown. In one swift stroke, He proved He can be trusted to provide a miracle in a shadowy moment that by all accounts reeked of potential injury and death.

“Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me” (Psalm 31:3, NIV).

JANETTE TANK lives in Springdale, Utah, and is a graduate of Evangel University.

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