Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

October 2, 2005


I remember well the night my brother rescued me


During the 58 years I have been driving vehicles, my car or truck has left me stranded dozens of times. Most of those frustrating experiences have faded from my memory. But I remember well a Saturday night in July when my brother Seth came to my rescue.

I was 40 years old at the time, old enough to be the father of five sons but still young enough to call my own father when a crisis occurred. My father had ruled the roost in our home. He was strong and steady, always able to handle a problem with wisdom and grace. Daddy was a “Jack of all trades,” able to fix anything that broke.

Dean and I married when we were 20. I was wet behind the ears with no track record of dealing with the unexpected. When there was a problem in those early years, I usually called Daddy for advice. He would know what to do when no one else did.

This caused no little tension in my own mind and in our marriage. My wife’s father died when she was very young.  She had not grown up depending on her dad as I had relied on mine. So she wanted me to “grow up,” be a man, take charge, and stop calling my Dad about every crisis.

I wanted that maturity also. As I grew older, I wanted my sons to think of me as I thought of my Dad – a strong man who could fix anything. Gradually I began breaking the habit of calling Daddy for counsel. It felt good to feel that at last I was a real man – most of the time.

Coming home from a family vacation, our car became disabled on a Saturday afternoon. We were returning to Mobile from a vacation in Minnesota. A man stopped and helped us push the car into a gas station in a small town on the interstate. No car repair center was open. Everyone advised me that no mechanic would be available until Monday. I was desperate. I had to preach the next morning in my church.

After several hours of trying in vain to find a mechanic, I did not have a clue what to do. I was exhausted. My wife was frustrated. Our sons were simply being little boys – and driving us crazy. I realized the whole family was beginning to doubt my manhood. I could hear their silent demand: “You are the daddy. You are in charge. Why don’t you figure out what to do?”

I thought about calling my daddy but dismissed the idea quickly. I could hear my wife saying in derision, “So you called your daddy, did you? That is all you know how to do – call your daddy!” I did not want to hear that, so desperately I tried to think of another solution. None came to mind.

Finally I caved in to the compulsion to call my dad. Why not? He always knew what to do. By then I had figured out that what I needed was a new starter for the car. Resourceful as ever, my dad called a friend who ran a auto parts store, secured a starter for my car, and called to let me know that my brother was coming with the starter.

By then it was past 10 o’clock. My brother had to drive 60 miles to reach us. In the meantime I was able to locate a local mechanic who agreed to change out the starter for me. 

Once Seth arrived, about midnight, the grumbling “shade tree mechanic,” barely sober, quickly replaced the starter. Soon we were on our way but we had not gone a mile before I had to pull off the highway. I could not see for the tears in my eyes.

What triggered my crying was the sudden realization that this little drama was the gospel – fleshed out in this strange experience.  I had called my father and he had sent his son to rescue us.

That is the essence of salvation: When our problems overwhelm us, we can call our heavenly Father and he will send His Son to save us. I could not ask for a more beautiful illustration of the gospel message.

I sat on the side of the road for several minutes. The boys were asleep, never knowing what was happening in my heart. My wife, half asleep herself, said, “What is wrong; why did you stop?” I told her I would explain later and urged her to go back to sleep. When my tears subsided, I drove home, my weariness somehow replaced by a joyous sense of the presence of God.

The next day I told this story with passion, and God used it to bless me and the congregation.  I suppose by now you can understand why I will never forget the night my brother Seth rescued me. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience. + + + +