#TellHisStory: When You Need Someone to Rescue You

April 9, 2014 | 25 comments

The man scrambled down the side of the snowy ditch, arms stretched out like a scarecrow to balance himself.

He ran as fast as a guy can run through crusty snow — snow that was a foot deep but not solid enough to keep a grown man from falling in with each step. This is winter’s quicksand, the kind of snow that gets up under the hem of your jeans, cutting at your ankles with icy blades.

But he ran anyway.

He feared that the person in the van was dying, or was maybe dead already, with that whole front end smashed in like it was.

He had seen accidents like this, and he’d seen mortals die before. He had volunteered for years on the local fire department, and had been summoned to more accident scenes than he cared to remember. But he ran brave and sure, his breath making tiny white bursts of determined little clouds.

He was running.

And he was running late.

He would have been ten miles farther down the road, if it weren’t for the marshmallow. Had he been on time, he would have driven past here before the crash happened, and he would have been at the church by now, sipping Folgers from Styrofoam.

The man was supposed to be sharing his testimony with a group of Iowa men that morning, and he wanted to burn a marshmallow at the podium, until it turned ash-black. He wanted to show those farmers and accountants and grandpas and truck drivers what he thought his heart might have looked like, during all those years when he kept shutting Jesus out. It burned his insides, that heart of his on a campfire stick.

But he’d forgotten his marshmallow exhibit on the kitchen table back home, so he had to stop at the corner store for a whole bag of them.

And that’s why he was running late, and why he was running strong, where you see him now, racing down into a crooked ditch toward a smashed-up van.

 * * *

She was stuck in the driver’s seat.

She was stuck, not dead. But bleeding. Stuff hurt.

She could see the shape of a man running, and he was some kind of hope careening into the ditch, like an answer to that one shaky prayer playing on repeat: “Help me, God. Help me, God.” Through the shattered windshield, she saw a figure, with arms stretched out, but it was a blur of color, like stained-glass. He was running. She knew that. But to her, it felt like he was crawling.

“Come quickly.” She may not have said it, but she thought it.

She hurt all over, and the wind slapped her cheeks red, right through the broken window. That’s how she knew she was alive. Because she could feel.

She saw his hand first, reaching in through the broken window, and then his face. He gasped.


She reached up and grabbed his hands.


She said it again. And she sobbed.

“Rob. Rob, I’m scared. Pray for me.”

It was her neighbor, the husband of her best friend, the woman who was her very first soul-friend after she’d moved to the farm. That man’s wife was the woman who rescued her from loneliness. And now her husband was reaching in through the window, like an answer to prayer.

He slipped in through the passenger-side door and waited until the paramedics could get her out of her smashed-up van.

And that took a while.

Finally, sirens.

* * *

It’s been five years now, five years since she sat trapped in a car with a friend whose marshmallows sat in a paper bag in his car, parked at the side of the road.

She’s been thinking about that moment this week, as Easter nears, and she figures this is why:

When you’re wrecked and cold, and can barely see through the shattered glass in front of you, you kind of want to lose hope. And who can blame you? You think no one will come. And if they are coming, it feels much too slow.

But Someone is running for you, right for you, even if you can’t see it.

That’s how it went down 2,000 years ago, you know. Hope ran, even when it hurt. Even when it felt slow, and they’d been waiting for hundreds of years. They call it the “silent age.” And who could blame any of them if they gave up hope?

But it happened like this, all of a sudden –

Hope hurtled itself toward Earth, then reached out a hand, the same hand that would open up for a spike all on account of people trapped and cold and scared and crying out, “Help me, God,” again and again.

Hope answers. Hope leaves the throne, to claim His own. Passes up comfort, for the cross.

And we are alive — crucified with Christ, yet we live.

And I feel it again, because I was that woman trapped in the van, with the cold wind on my reddening cheeks watching that one brave hand reaching in through the broken window. I saw how a hand can reach straight into a mess, straight into the places that hurt.

Straight into the places to be redeemed.

ice on barbed wire

Related: The Woman Who Kept Me Warm and There’s Just Something About Those Y’s. 

(Remembering my accident from January 2009. A repost from the Easter archives, as I prepare for a weekend retreat.)

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by | April 9, 2014 | 25 comments


  1. Debbie

    Thanks for hosting! Loved the story in the post, it really makes you think. I also liked the marshmallow thoughts. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Laura Connell

    Wow I’m sorry you went through this. I am amazed the way God orchestrates things. It’s no accident that man forgot His marshmallow exhibit and had to stop and get more. No accidents in God’s plans.

  3. HGTheresaMiller

    Wow, this is stunning. Your story telling Christ’s story. Beautiful. So glad you came through that difficult time with flying colors!

  4. saltshakmk@msn.com

    Compelling story – grabbed me at the first as though I was looking through the eye of a director’s camera. Loved the metaphor of our Savior who rescues . . . Joy!

  5. Lisa notes...

    I always love this story, Jennifer. Hope answers. Yes!

    “You think no one will come. And if they are coming, it feels much too slow. But Someone is running for you, right for you, even if you can’t see it.” Praise God.

  6. Being Woven

    Oh, this is powerful and filled with the love of God flowing through this man from God to you. I am so sorry this happened, yet am praising God for His mercy and grace.

  7. Elizabeth Stewart

    This story of hope is worth repeating! Thanks, Jennifer!

  8. bluecottonmemory

    Heart-stopping – and so beautifully, redeemably re-started!

  9. soulstops

    I always appreciate reading how God rescued you that day 🙂 Praying God blesses you at your retreat, Jennifer 🙂

  10. Anita

    What a beautiful story and what a beautiful reminder that God will ALWAYS come running to offer us hope and a way out.

  11. Paula Gamble

    I needed to hear that story today. Oh, how I relate to, “When you’re wrecked and cold, and can barely see through the shattered glass in front of you, you kind of want to lose hope. And who can blame you? You think no one will come. And if they are coming, it feels much too slow.” Though more in a wrecked life kind of way. Still, there’s hope, “But Someone is running for you, right for you, even if you can’t see it.” Thank you for these words, Jennifer.

  12. Holly Solomon Barrett

    Such a beautiful post, Jennifer. I love the picture of God running to rescue and redeem me. Thanks for sharing this story with us!

  13. Josie Barone

    Wow! Thank you for sharing this. I am so grateful you are okay. Beautiful correlation with the hand reaching through the shattered glass. I am speechless. Thank you again!

  14. Laura Risser Moss

    (The comment I left so very late last night/early this morning must have gotten lost in my haze…so here goes, again…) Hope ran. Hope answers. Hope redeemed. I join the chorus of gratitude that you were rescued that day, Jennifer. Thank you for your words. All of them. And may your weekend retreat bring you joy and refreshment.

  15. JViola79

    Oh Jennifer, I had not even heard of you when this accident took place. I am so glad you shared this story of hope & redemption. And I am grateful that you were redeemed twice (by God & your neighbor) as you have so blessed my life!

  16. Susan @ My Place to Yours

    Great image of Hope running even when we don’t see it. I claim that Hope often, especially on behalf of children the world has forgotten…

  17. Kathie Whitestone Thompson

    Immediately I thought, “this girl can write!”; then this girl can deliver THE MESSAGE that JESUS saves! Thank you.

  18. Jillie

    Oh Jennifer…I have heard this story before, but it was wonderful to read it afresh today. The Good Lord saved you that day through the helping hand of your friend. To think that God would delay Rob’s “mission” with a needed marshmallow in order to give him a new mission–that of caring for you until an ambulance could arrive!!! To be there with you in your fear. To comfort you. And HE saved you alive for just such a time & purpose as this–to bear witness to His Saving Power! Bless your heart, Jennifer! I am so glad you’re here!

  19. Sarah S

    Beautiful. Wrecked and cold waiting to be rescued…thanks for the reminder of hope hurtling itself toward me.

  20. Margo@Legacy of a Single Girl

    Oh my gosh I love this!! “Hope hurled itself toward earth”!! What a visual picture of His love! Thank you.

  21. Nacole Simmons

    Oh my Jennifer, this is beautiful writing. Such a powerful voice you have, and a lovely sharing of this story. As one who struggles with Lent these days, *thank you*, friend. Thank you. Much love….

  22. Nancy Ruegg

    Such an incredible story with a powerful connection to our experience with Jesus. This sentence in particular created a strong image of Him in my mind: “I saw how a hand can reach straight into a mess, straight into the places of that hurt.” Hope personified! Thank you, Jennifer.

  23. SimplyDarlene

    my goose-bumps have goose-bumps.

    and this is how we met. a prayer request for that woman.




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