In the spring of 1975 my family and I were living among beautiful green farmland in the Rheinland-Pfalz area of West Germany. Driving home from church one rainy Sunday, we stopped to have a look at an automobile that had rolled onto its side in the wet roadbed at the edge of a forest. Inside the forest it was already dark because of the thick canopy created by the trees and the oncoming night.
After looking at the wrecked vehicle, we returned to our car and discovered it was stuck in the mud. I couldn’t back up, but I could drive forward—into the forest. We had previously driven through the forest and found that many forest roads were interconnected and would eventually lead back out, so I decided to move forward into the blackness.
I quickly realized that I had made the wrong decision. The narrow, wet road was filled with deep ruts of mud and kept leading farther and farther into the dark forest. I tried to keep up speed, fearing that if we stopped, we would become mired. I saw a high spot just ahead that looked firm enough to sustain the weight of the car. My plan was to get the car out of the mud to give myself time to think. The car lunged up and out of the mud.
I turned off the car and climbed out. With the headlights off, I couldn’t see a thing. I turned the headlights back on, grabbed our flashlight, and after looking the car over, decided that my best bet was to back into the forest and then make a mad dash out the way we came.
I backed as far into the forest as possible, revved the engine a little, lunged back onto the road, and sank deep into the mud. Now we were really in trouble. Outside the car it was total darkness and silence. Inside the car my wife and I sat with three terrified children.
I asked my wife for any ideas. After a moment she said, “Maybe we should pray.” The children calmed down almost immediately. I offered a humble but desperate prayer for help. As I prayed, a thought came clearly into my mind: “Put on the tire chains.”
Standing in 10 inches (25 cm) of mud in her Sunday dress, my sweet wife held the flashlight while I cleaned the rear tires with my bare hands and put the chains on. With faith and confidence, we prayed again and started the engine. Slowly we drove through the mud and eventually back onto the pavement.
In the excitement of being freed from the mud and the darkness, I almost forgot who had helped us out of the forest. Our five-year-old daughter reminded me when she said, “Daddy, Heavenly Father really does answer prayers, doesn’t He?”