The Miramichi Incident


"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Ps 91:1-2 NIV)

We were now officially on our way back home. Our mood was somewhat subdued, for we had grown to love New Brunswick during our brief stay. Besides, we had just left behind good friends, and the only bright spot on the horizon was that we still had one more two-day stop, in Caraquet, New Brunswick, before officially leaving the province.

Our route took us through Miramichi, a city at the mouth of the Miramichi River. The tour book described a delightful harbor. Just the perfect place to stop for lunch. Besides, our water jugs were getting low, and surely a town this size would have an Atlantic Superstore where we could refill them. With these thoughts in mind, we pulled off Highway 11 at the Welcome Center to ask for directions. We had barely parked our rig when the driver of the motor home beside us opened his door to greet us. He had seen our Ontario plates, and he gave our boys New Brunswick provincial pins, instantly dubbing them "Official New Brunswickers". What a nice welcome to Miramichi!

Just five minutes down the road, however, our delight soured.

The town is divided by the Miramichi River, and the main highway, Highway 11, transverses a long, arched bridge over the river. At the Welcome Center we had been instructed to take the Water Street exit, the last exit from the highway before the bridge, to find both the harbor and the Atlantic Superstore, and we had dutifully complied. We then proceeded to drive several miles down Water Street, but it didn't seem like we were coming into the town at all. In fact, we were on what appeared to be a beautiful country drive along the river. Certainly not the place to find an Atlantic Superstore! And through the fog, we were sure we could make out a harbor-on the OTHER side of the river!

Disillusioned, we turned back. We were already starting to vocalize our frustration about the poor directions and about getting lost when we arrived back at the onramp to Highway 11, to find a backlog of cars waiting to get on the highway. Needless to say, our less-than-ideal attitudes soured further when we realized that the line wasn't moving at all. In fact, we could see several police cars blocking the entrance to the bridge. The bridge was closed! Now what?

We aren't exactly proud of the thoughts that were going through our minds at this point, especially our thoughts about the lady who had obviously so blatantly "misled" us, but after another 10 minutes of complaining, we realized that this wasn't getting us anywhere and we pulled out the map of Miramichi. There did seem to be another way to cross the river, and though it would take us several kilometers out of our way, this seemed infinitely better than spending the remainder of the day waiting in line for THIS bridge to reopen.

We pulled out of the line-up and proceeded down the road to the second bridge. You can imagine our delight to see an Atlantic Superstore just over the bridge! We could fill our empty water jugs after all!

As we drove back up the river towards Highway 11, the Miramichi Bridge soon came into view. It was soon clear that the southbound vehicles had resumed their crossing, but the northbound lane was blocked by a transport truck-an almost completely blackened transport truck. One that obviously been on fire! We couldn't tell if this had been the result of an accident, but it had clearly been the cause for the temporary bridge closure!

That's when we realized that this incident must have happened just around the time we would have been crossing the bridge if we hadn't taken our "scenic" trip up the river in search of our phantom grocery store on Water Street! Our frustrating excursion into nowhere land had kept us off the bridge! The false instructions we had been given had saved us from being in the vicinity of that transport truck when it burst into flames! It had all been in God's plan! He had been doing what we had asked Him that morning to do: To protect us on the road!

In an instant, all of our frustration over getting lost, over not being able to cross the river where we wanted to, over all the lost time, even our anger at the lady in the Welcome Center who had "misdirected" us, melted into songs of praise.

How often do we mutter and complain over circumstances that seem to go against the flow we are intending to take? If only we could see the whole picture, we would fall on our knees, thanking God for His guidance and protection. We never have to lose sleep when we trust in the Lord. With Him in the driver's seat, we can be assured that we will arrive safely at our destination. Isn't that wonderful news?

Why does God care so much for us? The reason is obvious: He loves us! We are important to Him! "In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." (Ex 15:13 NIV) In Him we can trust. He has our best interests at heart.

The next time you are tempted to be frustrated by your circumstances, praise God instead of muttering. He may have just saved you from a catastrophe.

P. S. We would later learn that had we continued up Water Street, we would have eventually come to the second bridge, the Atlantic Superstore, AND the harbor! We hadn't been misdirected after all!

Rob Chaffart

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