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Destination: Home

A pastor’s wife fears her son won’t make it home from college for Thanksgiving.

Will car trouble keep their son from making it home for Thanksgiving?

I tapped my pen against the kitchen table and stared at my to-do list. Plan side dishes, get the turkey, tidy up the house—Thanksgiving was two days away, and there was so much to get done.

But that wasn’t why I was anxious. My son, Bill, was driving home from school for Thanksgiving break. His first visit since he’d gone off to college. And he was late.

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The phone rang. My husband, William, answered it. As he paced around the kitchen with the receiver to his ear, I heard snippets of his conversation: Car trouble. Transmission. Tow truck. I looked up. Who was he talking to?

“How far are you from home?” William asked.

Bill! Oh, no, is he in trouble? I moved closer to my husband so I could find out what was going on. I could just hear Bill’s voice through the receiver. “I’m stranded at some service station in Macon, Georgia.”

Macon was hundreds of miles away, and who knew if we could trust the service at this station. I’d been looking forward to Thanksgiving ever since I watched Bill pull out of the driveway three months earlier to start his freshman year.

What if he couldn’t get the car fixed in time? What if the mechanics were untrustworthy? What if Bill couldn’t get home? God, this is an emergency! Please take care of Bill, I prayed.

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“Let me speak with the station owner about the car,” William said. He covered the receiver with his hand and told me not to worry. “Hello, this is J. William Harbin,” he said. “I’m Bill’s dad—”

My husband got quiet, listening. “Excuse me?” he said finally. “Why, yes! I am a minister!”

What? How did the station owner know William was a minister?

“Wow! Really?” William said. Then he laughed.

Instead of talking about our Thanksgiving dilemma, it sounded as if William and the station owner were catching up like old friends! I tapped my foot impatiently. How was my son getting home? That’s what I wanted to know.

William hung up the phone, looking positively delighted. “Bill will be on his way soon enough.”

“But the car trouble—who can fix it on such short notice? And this week, of all weeks?”

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“Remember when I preached in Macon last year?” William asked. “The owner belongs to the church I visited. He remembered me and promised to make Bill’s car his top priority. Our son is in good hands.”

My anxiety eased. Out of all the places in the Macon area that offered automotive repairs, Bill’s car had been towed to the perfect one. One run by a friend we never knew we had.

“Hey, Mom,” Bill said as he finally stepped through the door and set down his luggage, a bit road-weary. “It’s good to be home.” With the whole family gathered around the table, we all gave thanks for answered prayers…especially the ones answered before we had a chance to ask.

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