Friday, November 7, 2014

Fantastic Family Friday: The Bear Necessities

Sometimes God's provisions are just enough.

Three weeks ago, our family decided to venture onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  A beautiful October Saturday, we looked forward to exploring sights in the mountains.  Leisurely driving and stopping along the Parkway, we enjoyed the breathtaking views.

We parked at mile marker 417 and hiked into the woods until we came to Skinny Dip Falls.  Before it became known publicly, SDF would have been an excellent place for skinny-dipping.  Nestled deep into the woods, the spot is one of the most gorgeous and picturesque swimming holes I have ever experienced.  It looks like something straight out of Fantasy Island.

Returning to our van, we continued our journey of gorgeous mountain sights.  The best views of the day came as the sun set over the mountains.  We and a lot of other motorists stopped to take pictures of the sun setting over the peaks.

Stopping at the Pisgah Inn, we checked out the bookstore filled with mountain-culture paraphernalia.  Other travelers packed the place, waiting for the two-hour wait at the restaurant.  Knowing that church duties would come on Sunday morning, my wife and I told each other that we needed to hit the road and get home.  

Leaving the Inn about 7:30, we headed down the dark road towards the Asheville exit.  At night the Blue Ridge Parkway is very dark - very dark.  For most of the ride, you only have your vehicle's headlights as any source of light.

About ten miles south of the Pisgah Inn, I suddenly noticed a young black bear to the left of the minivan.  The bear was quickly trying to cross the road directly in front of us.  It was one of those moments when your mind processes things very quickly.  I slammed on brakes, and I think all five of us in the car saw what was about to happen and screamed simultaneously.

My wife and I have sensed described the animal as somewhere between a bear cub and an adult bear.  It was as long as the front of our van.  Maybe it was a teenage bear!  

Within one second of our spotting him, he and the van collided.  We heard and felt the impact.  SMACK!  The bear slid across the pavement for at least 10 yards.  Then, immediately he jumped up and hurried into the woods out of our view.

Accelorating, I put as much distance between us and the scene of the accident as possible.  I did not want to meet mama or papa bear.  Seriously.  We drove several miles until we came to an overview.  Stopping to survey the damage, we discovered much damage to the vehicle's front.  But thankfully it kept running. 

I quietly prayed, "Lord, please get us off of this Parkway and into Asheville."  At that point, I did not care if we had to spend the night at a hotel.  I could call a deacon and say, "You are in charge of church tomorrow."  I just wanted us to be safe and away from any more wild animals.  Earlier that day I had thought, I sure would like to see a bear somewhere today.  But I was thinking more from a long distance.

Thankfully, we made it into Asheville in another 10-15 minutes.  I don't know that I have ever been that happy to see a Ryan's buffet restaurant in my entire life.  After a good supper, we prayed in the van and then drove almost two hours to our house.

Bear-hair stuck to van
Several days later, the insurance company told me the damage would cost $500 in a deductible.  For several days I thought, Oh, I don't want to have to pay $500.  That is a lot of money to put out for that.  I asked the Lord to provide for us and help me to cover the $500.

The next week I did something I have never done in 25+ years of driving.  I backed into a sitting vehicle as I left our carport.  My mind was on avoiding hitting my son, who was outside.  What I failed to notice was the other vehicle parked directly behind me.  Suddenly the minivan collided with the other.  I got out to survey the damage.  The back bumper of the minivan was a mess.  I had put a small dent into my other vehicle, an old one that has had many better years.

So now on the blue minivan I would be looking at not $500 but $1000 in deductibles in order to get the family van fixed.  After talking with the adjustor, I decided that I would not have the old vehicle fixed but would use that insurance money to help pay the deductibles for the other.

When I received the check to repair the old vehicle, I chuckled.  The insurance check was for $1004.90.  It was just enough to cover both of the deductibles on the family minivan.

Someone told me once that God allows happy accidents in our lives.  These are situations that look bad at first but later turn out for good.

Looking back over our incident on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I see reasons to rejoice.  We enjoyed a great day viewing the autumn colors.  We got to see a bear up close.  My family was protected from what could have been a very dangerous and precarious situation.  Our van was still able to operate after the accident.  We made it off of the Parkway, found supper, and made it safely home.  And through a "happy accident," the necessary funds came to cover the payment needed to repair the van.

God provides for the bear necessities.


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