Behind the Number 70

On Sunday morning, I spoke at Bethel Church at Clapham, from whence I would drive to Threshfield to lunch with some Martin Top folk. Storm Eunice had been blustering all day and night, and the A65 after Long Preston had flooded. I therefore resolved to drive back using the alternative route, through the hills. It was a foolish decision, but I reasoned that among the fells the rain would better drain away and, being so high up, there would be fewer floods. I was mistaken.

Up from Langcliffe to Malham Moor and down to Arncliffe and Conistone I went. The rivers were bulging, the streams overflowing, and every fell seemed to host a huge, gushing waterfall. Many lanes were covered in excess water, through which farmers in their 4x4s raced, but I in my little hatchback drove more carefully. At Kilnsey, I faced a 2-feet-deep flood, for which I pulled over, hazard lights flashing, while I considered my options. My Sunday dinner was just three miles hence; to turn around and go back would have been a 20-mile round-trip through another two dozen floods. I resolved to go through, praying as I drove. One must not proceed too quickly through a flood; sending jets of water up on either side can damage the car. On the other hand, one must be in second gear and keep one’s foot down; the exhaust fumes keep the waters out of the engine which would otherwise damage it. To stop accelerating would create a vacuum which the water would rush to fill, ending one’s journey once and for all. Sure enough, the car shook and the engine whined but the Lord preserved it and I got to the other side.

After my roast beef and sweet fellowship, I prayed the Lord would see me safely out of Threshfield and onto chapel for our evening service. As I joined the main road, my heart sank when I realised I would be driving behind the Number 70 bus, which winds its way between Grassington and Bradford. Buses are slow and cumbersome, stopping every couple of hundred yards to lose or admit  passengers. My usual inclination was to overtake at the first opportunity. Annoyed that no such chance would arise, with the road being twisty and flooded and the evening dark, I began to realise it was all to my benefit. The bus’s huge mass and thick tyres caused much of the floodwaters to jet upwards into the fields by the road; although the waters seeped back onto the tarmac, I was conveniently already passing by before this happened. The Number 70 was making my journey back much safer and for that providence, I thanked the God of heaven.

Often, life’s inconveniences, disruptions and obstacles are beneficial and helpful, even if we do not see this straight away.