A Second Chance
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“A Second Chance,” Ensign, Mar. 1987, 32–33

A Second Chance

I was returning from Relief Society one evening back in the days when it was held during the week. The cold Alaskan winter had been broken by a warm spell, bringing rain that had turned the snow-packed side roads into treacherous sheets of ice. The main roads were mushy or bare, but not dangerous.

As I approached our side road, a voice said, “Don’t turn in. Use the other road.”

I pushed the thought aside. It was strange for me to think such a cowardly thing. Some used the other road in bad weather to avoid the steep hill, but I never had. I’d always made it over that hill, and always on the first try. I turned and began the steep climb. I prided myself on the fact that I knew how to get the car moving at just the right speed to make it up.

I was almost to the top when my wheels began to spin. I realized then that it had not been my fears telling me to go around, but the still small voice trying to warn me. I would have to back down and go around.

When I put the car in reverse, it began to slip sideways toward the steep twenty-foot embankment. The experience quickly turned into a nightmare as nothing I did seemed to change the car’s course. The car refused to be controlled, and I kept sliding dangerously near the edge. Wrestling with the car, I silently prayed for help—and the car stopped.

I offered a prayer of thanks and put the emergency brake on, but it would not hold. Each time I lifted my foot from the brake pedal, the car slid a little more toward the edge. I again prayed for help. Nothing happened. I honked the horn, hoping someone would come to my rescue, but there was no response.

I realized I was too upset to hear an answer to my prayers, and so I prayed again, asking this time that I would be calm and that I might be able to hear the answer to my desperate request. I immediately became calm. My heart no longer felt as if it were trying to escape my chest.

I told Heavenly Father that I knew he could pick up that car and set it down safely if he desired. I pleaded with him to guide me to do what I must do to save myself and the car. When I had finished my prayer, I remained sitting with my eyes closed, waiting for an answer.

I saw in my mind’s eye that if I turned the steering wheel one way I would go off the road, but that it would hold if I turned it the other way, which I did. Then, as though someone were sitting in the back seat, I heard a voice tell me to ease my foot off the brake. I did, and the emergency brake held.

The voice then told me to get out of the car. I obeyed, but as soon as my feet touched the ice, I began to slide under the car. As I reached out to touch the car for support to keep from falling, the voice seemed almost to shout as it commanded me not to touch the car. I pulled my hand back as if the car were red hot. Because I couldn’t stand up on the ice in my shoes, I removed them, and my warm stockinged feet kept me from sliding. I could see that the back wheel of the car was about six inches from the edge of the embankment.

I crossed the road and put on my shoes, then walked in the snow to the bottom of the hill. At the nearest house, I phoned my husband.

As I returned to the road, I heard a noise up the hill. I was horrified to see my car slipping down the hill. “Don’t worry,” said the voice, “It’s under control.” I could see that the car had turned from the edge and was backing down the center of the road, as if someone were driving it.

Just past where I stood, the car moved to the left side of the road and came to a gentle stop, one rear wheel in mid air, the other resting on the gravel shoulder.

As I stood there marveling at the miracle I had just seen, my husband came walking over the top of the hill. I explained what had happened, and we bowed our heads in thanks for my protection. My husband then got in the car and didn’t even stir the gravel as he drove it from the shoulder onto the road.

Years later, the road over the hill was straightened—cut down to a less hazardous climb—but seldom did I use it, especially in winter, without thinking of the day I learned a vital lesson about the importance of recognizing and obeying the promptings of the Spirit.