By Judy Brandon: CNJ Religion Columnist
It was on the highway that runs some miles outside Show Low, Ariz. It is the Salt River Canyon highway, and the sharp curves and high, steep hills of this canyon are intimidating.
I have heard of many mishaps on that highway. My husband remembers traveling through the canyon with his family. It was not unusual to spot old wrecked vehicles that tumbled off roads and down hills years earlier only to rust at the canyon’s base far below.
The Salt River Canyon road meanders between steep mountains above and deep rugged canyons below. One night, we were headed to Phoenix and descending through the canyon. Our drive was uneventful until suddenly several ambulances came up behind us.
Just as we rounded one of the sharp corners on the road, up ahead we could see the blinking lights indicating emergency vehicles. The police had stopped the cars and barricades were set up. Flares lit up the darkened highway. We were one car in a line of more than a dozen. Word passed from car to car that up ahead an accident had involved 13 people. A car, trying to pass on the steep incline, had hit the guard rail and then another oncoming car. Then three other cars coming around the curve the other way had crashed into them.
As we sat with our engine silent, the noise of emergency evacuation helicopters filled the dark sky. Spotlights lit up the entire area, searching for a secure place to land on the steep mountain side. They landed and within minutes ascended again with the critically wounded. Four ambulances left and came up our way, sirens blaring and lights flashing. On to Phoenix they all went with the critically wounded.
We could hear the sound of the helicopters landing and taking off some 500 feet ahead of us. The line of vehicles behind us continued to grow. After two hours, the last of the wounded were loaded and police took down the barriers for traffic to move.
As we crept behind the cars in front of us, we rounded the corner to the scene of the accident. Bent highway guard rails, glass and twisted car pieces lay along the edge of the highway. We saw the long line of cars on the other side that were stopped as well. They were still waiting until we passed so they could proceed on out of the canyon.
I wondered about those 13 people in the cars. Little did they know what lay ahead that eventful night.
I have thought about that night since. I assume that the days and weeks of my life will go by in uneventful order. But that is not always so. In a minute’s time, a person’s life and direction can be changed forever. A doctor’s report, a message from the police, a call in the middle of the night— and structured and secure lives suddenly collapse.
None of us has assurance of tomorrow or the next hour or the next minute. But I do know that Christ provides hope and assurance even when we don’t now what is ahead.
We sang this song in church years ago:
“Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand; But I know Who holds tomorrow, And I know Who holds my hand.”
Jesus is the assurance we have when we don’t know about the events of tomorrow.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: