As a student who began writing stories for my daily newspaper in the summers when I was fresh out of high school, I have always enjoyed good-news pieces, especially those with dramatic or even surprising endings.
This morning I spotted a story that had earlier been reported as a disaster. A couple had set out with their two children, a niece and a nephew — the children all youngsters — a couple of days earlier in rural Nevada. They were going to spend a night camping in the snow.
The tragic news was that the Jeep in which they were traveling had disappeared. The assumption was that in the difficult terrain, the vehicle may have left the road and perhaps crashed. Sub-zero temperatures had made the situation even scarier.
Today’s national news carried word that the six people had been discovered and had been rescued, and that all were in good shape, suffering no frostbite and only mild hypothermia from temps that had dipped to 21 degrees below zero. The vehicle had indeed slipped off the edge of the road, rolled over, slid on its top down an embankment and come to rest in a crevice.
As it turns out, the couple had done all the right things as they made their wintertime excursion and dealt with their isolation after the accident.
First, they had told family where they were going. That helped searchers, who still had to comb a reported 6,000 square miles to find them. The searchers totaled about 200, some using sophisticated technology in the search.
Second, they had packed for their camping adventure but also made provision in case they found themselves in a crisis situation like the one they experienced.
Third, they brought along food and water. The food didn’t last longer than the first day, but the water enabled them to stay hydrated in the dry climate.
Fourth, they stayed put with the vehicle. No one left the stranded Jeep or braved poor weather to launch out on foot to find their way or to seek help in the isolated area.
Fifth, the couple built a fire near the car, heated nearby rocks and then placed them in a spare tire in the vehicle to help warm themselves and the children. One rescuer marveled at the savvy to even think of doing that.
I am glad these six people did not suffer harm. Each agreed this would be one of their most memorable Christmases because of their rescue. What happened to them turned from being a hopeless chain of events to a story of realized hope.
This is a good story to hear at Christmas. It reminds us that we all find ourselves in challenging situations from time to time. And as believers approach Christmas, they are reminded of the ultimate act of rescue, the sending of the Messiah and his life-saving act for anyone who has slid off the road of life, has found life overturned and skidding out of control, and has discovered the fear and despair of being alone.
Like the folks in the lost car, those who trust Christ find hope realized in their lives.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.