Less than a half mile from my boyhood home near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was an old fashioned covered bridge. Some of my earliest memories are of playing and swimming in the Conewaga Creek that flowed under it. It was great fun when cars crossed the bridge over my head; the clatter of the wooden planks was almost deafening as the sound slapped the water below.
Bob and Lois Staub owned the largest poultry farm in the state. Every few weeks they delivered chickens to various buyers in the area. With the big flatbed truck loaded nine crates high they were able to squeeze slowly through the old covered bridge with a couple of inches to spare. However, they always returned home the long way with the empty crates, because without the poultry on board they exceeded by several inches the bridge’s clearance.
It was exciting for me to ride on the little box between Mom and Dad as we made the delivery. I knew once the chickens were unloaded I could count on a chocolate ice cream cone on the way home.
On a sunny weekday afternoon in 1950 we were just about finished with another long day of catching, and crating, and hauling chickens. Mom and Dad were busy visiting over my head in the front seat as we headed down the last stretch home. Mom was driving, as she usually did. Suddenly the front of the big truck rose slightly as we sped onto the inclined entrance to the covered bridge.
Instantly Mom and Dad realized their mistake. For some inexplicable reason they had returned home the way they came, and in a second or two they would be tearing into the roof of the bridge at 40 miles an hour. There was only time for a single word between them: “Jesus!”
For Bob and Lois, that Name was not an expletive spoken carelessly. They were members of the Chambersburg Assembly of God church, almost thirty miles from the farm. Twice on Sunday and again on Wednesday night they made the trip to hear the fiery Irish Pastor, Alfred Boyd, preach the Word of God. They gave the tithe to the work of the Lord, blessed and supported the Pastor, entertained the saints, and lived out the gospel the very best they could. Most of what I can remember of those years involved the church, the preacher, and most of all, that Name.
So, when “Jesus!” crossed their lips in the shadow of the covered bridge, the old poultry truck crossed the boundary between the seen and the unseen realm, and the three of us, Mom gripping the wheel, Dad with his hand pressed to my chest, and Butch (me) in the middle, passed in stunning silence through the aged timbers of the covered bridge.
It’s almost impossible to ‘scramble’ for a miracle. When the crisis comes, the provisions for it are usually the natural result of how one’s life is lived. There was no time, nor any need for prayer at the covered bridge, for prayer was how they lived!
No one spoke as we passed Grace and Mike Crum’s house, slowly covering the last few hundred yards to the farm. Mom and Dad looked at each other. There was no doubt what had happened, and no words to describe the awe and joy of having touched, if only for a brief moment, ‘the power of the age to come.’ (Heb. 6:5)