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Each session at the San Jose "Winds of Renewal" conference (July 19-21 with Randy Clark and Larry Randolf and Gary Shelton) had been better than the last. Sunday night was an incredible climax and was truly one of the most powerful renewal meetings I'd ever been in. (The only ones that were more powerful were the Tuesday and Wednesday Morning sessions at the Moscow Catch The Fire in March of 1996.)
The conference was about a 50 minute drive from my house when there is not any traffic and about 1.5 hours in traffic. The evening sessions went quite late, with me getting home somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00 AM. Most mornings I had to be up at 6:30 AM, so I did not get much sleep.
The conference had been extended one extra day (Monday). By Monday evening, I was so tired that I really should not have gone. But it was supposed to be an outreach service and there was a chance that my unsaved parents (who live in the area) might come. So I fought two hours of heavy rush hour traffic. When I got near my parent's house, I gave them a call and they'd decided not to go after all. It was a disappointment. But I was already down there, so I went to the ministry team pre-prayer and then to the service.
The worship was great, and it went on for over 1 and a half hours. They showed the Moscow video during that time, which was very moving for me because I had been there when the video was taken. It brought back some really neat memories. Then Randy got up to teach. He is a very good speaker, but I was so tired that I simply could not pay attention to the sermon. In fact, I could barely sit up. Ministry did not start until very late. Randy gave some specific calls, having people go to different sections of the room depending which call they were responding to. One call was for people dedicating their lives to missions, one for would-be church planters, one for future pastors and one for worship leaders. Then he had people who were already in that capacity to go pray for them and bless them. Since there was a shortage of active missionaries and a bunch of folks answering the call for missions, Randy said that anyone who'd ever been on the mission field could go pray for them. I had been a summer term missionary to Japan in 1976, so I went to pray. God fell on many of them with great power and that was kind of neat. I was just one of many people praying for them, so it did not take that long (maybe 20 minutes). We were ministering in a side room. Randy had given some instructions and turned it into a general ministry time. But I missed the instructions and was not sure what I was supposed to do. And I could not find any catchers. So I was going to stop praying, but some friends came up wanting prayer.
I did not expereince very much power when I prayed for people that night. It was sort of a disappointment for me, because I expected Monday to be even "hotter" than Sunday night. But it turned out to be the least powerful off all the sessions -- at least from my prospective.
I started trying to leave about midnght, but all these little things came up (someone had a question for me, someone wanted me to pray for them, I had to day goodbye to Gary, etc). Oddly, 4 different people stopped me to pray protection over me for my trip home. I was so tired I really needed that protection. It was after 12:30 when I finally made it to my car. I was looking at a minimum of a 50 minute drive home. Turns out I was too exhausted to drive the speed limit and safely control the car, so I set my cruise control at 55 MPH instead of 65 MPH. I did a quick mental calculation and realized I would not be home until about 1:20 to 1:30 AM.
Early in the drive, a wave of disapointment washed over me. I had expected so much more from the evening than I'd experienced. Now I was so tired that I could barely drive home and the evening did not seem worth this difficult late drive to me. I figured that maybe I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if I had not been so exhausted. Then I got really groggy.
The thump, thump, thump of those bumps on the lane lines work me up. I had dozed off briefly behind the wheel and started to wander out of my lane. That scared me. I considered pulling over to the shoulder to try and sleep it off, but had heard stories of single women being attacked in their cars along this stretch of road. So I decided to keep going. I prayed for protection and did everything I could think of in the natural to try and keep myself awake. I rolled down the window, turned up the volume of the music, slapped myself on the face a few times (ouch). A few minutes later, I was dozing off again. This really scared me and I threw up another prayer for protection and help. But the adrenelin disipated in a few minutes and I was again falling asleep behind the wheel. I looked at my wristwatch -- I'd only been driving for 20 minutes and was barely into Fremont. I still had at least another 30 minutes to go... maybe longer because I was going slower than the speed limit. I read the freeway signs and realized that I was not even to the Dumbarton bridge yet... and it would take me about 25 minutes to get home from there. I was so groggy that I knew I could not make it. But I was also so groggy by that point that I could not think clearly to pull my car over at the shoulder of the freeway and try to sleep it off.
So I called out to God for help. I literally believed that if He did not come down and help me stay awake, I would not make it home alive. I felt like my life was in danger and I asked Him to come and help me. (I realize that it was my own stupidity that put it in danger, I should have stayed home that night because I was so tired.) But now that I was in this situation, I needed Him to help me. I was asking Him to help me stay awake. I looked at the freeway signs and I was about 5 miles before the Dumbarton bridge now. I really struggled to stay awake and was trying to keep careful tabs on the cars around me so I didn't hit any of them. I am usualy a pretty good driver, but I could barely function and was having trouble keeping my car centered in my lane. I am sure the causual observer would have thought I was drunk. But I was just exhaused beyond endurance. This went on for about 5 minutes and I was finally at the bridge. Now about 25 minutes to go. Would I make it?
"Teresa," the Lord said, "Look at the freeway signs."
"Why?" I wondered. I knew where I was, I'd just seen the sign for the turnoff to the Dumbarton bridge seconds before. But I went ahead and looked.
The next freeway sign said "Washington". Wait a minute, I thought, that is not possible. Washington is 1 stop past the exit to 238... a freeway that I need to turn off onto. That meant I was a good 10 to 15 minutes further up the road than I had been less than a minute ago. Not possible.
But the freeway sign showed the exits after Washington. Yep, I was somehow up there and had missed my exit. Now I had to make a decision, did I turn around and go back, or did I go up another several miles and then take about 5 miles of city streets? I decided to go for the city streets since I'd be traveling at a slower speed and it would be safer for me. But my mind began puzzling at how I could instantly be 10 miles or so further up the road than I'd been seconds before. It intriged me so much that I stayed awake pondering it. Even though the drive home should have taken longer with all that extra city street driving, I ended up home at 1:10 AM. That is not possible, since I left the Church after 12:30 PM.
I was too tired to even thank the Lord for helping me out. I climbed into bed and fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, my mind was having trouble accepting what had happened to me. It seemed like God had teleported my car about 10 miles up the road and the shock of having that happen make me wide enough awake to make it safely the rest of the way home.
"Naw," I said to myself. "He wouldn't do that. It does not make sense. If He were going to supernaturally transport me and the car, He would have taken me all the way to my house. I was so tired. I must have just fallen asleep behind the wheel and woke up 10 minutes later."
Then I realized what I was saying to myself. The freeway is not straight, it has curves in it. If I'd fallen asleep behind the wheel for a minimum of 10 minutes, I would have run off the road and crashed. So, staying safely in my lane for about 10 minutes while being sound asleep would be an even bigger miracle than being supernaturally transportered 10 miles up the road! No matter which way you slice it, God came and did a miracle to get me home safely.
It kind of blows my mind. If I were God, I would have just made me more awake and let me drive home safely. But I am very greatful that He did something to enable me to get home safely! It is sure good to be His!
All the same, I think I'll try to exercise a bit more comon sense next time and not put myself in a position of having a long drive by myself when I am really exhausted.
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