By Dr. Ron Phillips
It was a cold evening in Gadsden, Ala., and despite the wintry weather forecast, I was excited to be traveling into the mountains to preach at a gathering of churches in northern Alabama. The late Dr. Claude Rhea, who had sung for Billy Graham, was the featured musical guest, and I, at 29 years of age, would follow with the message. What a fantastic opportunity for a young preacher! My wife, Paulette, wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. She gave me an apprehensive look as I kissed her good-bye. “Be careful, honey. It is snowing,” she warned. Not known for my driving skills I was oblivious to her warning.
As I traveled the 60 miles north into the hills, I noticed the snow beginning to stick to the grass and fields. When I neared the church, snow had begun to already cover the road. However, to my delight, the church was full and the crowd was excited. Dr. Rhea gave a powerful testimony of his healing from cancer and delivered a stirring rendition of the Gaither classic “He Touched Me” as the finale to his portion for the evening. The mountain people loved it!
The atmosphere was electric when I stood up to preach. However, the Spirit wasn’t the only thing falling that night; a blanket of snow was covering the region. And because of the weather, the host pastor had asked me to be brief. As I closed the message, the congregation left quickly. I thanked Dr. Rhea for his music and bid a quick farewell to the host pastor, who was getting into his pickup truck and heading home. One man from the church asked if I needed any help getting off the mountain. With little experience driving in ice and snow, I boastfully replied, “I can handle it.” As I made my way down the narrow road, my confidence soon disappeared. Snow covered everything and visibility was difficult.
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