Over The Edge – My True Experience

Clip art of book When I first began to write,  I didn’t write novels.  I wrote freelance articles for national parenting and teen magazines along with Sunday school materials. This article is a real life event my husband and I experienced  a few years ago when on vacation with my sister and brother-in-law.  It became a lesson to me that  when things happen that we can’t understand,sometimes we have witnessed God in action.  I’d love you to share  events in your life that witness God in action via the blog comments available below.  By leaving a comment, you will entered into my free book drawing in May.  

I have never seen an angel, but I have felt their presence many times in my life. One time in particular comes to mind.

One summer vacation we headed out West to camp out and see some of the wonderful sights of the United States. My husband Bob and I traveled in our van while my sister Jan and her husband Max, drove in theirs since we needed the van beds from sleeping. On the fourth day of our trip, we exited the freeway from Rapid City, South Dakota, heading for Mount Rushmore.

On the crowded observation deck, the impact was powerful. Gigantic faces of four presidents carved in rock looked back at us across the vista.

“Now that’s impressive.” Bob studied it, his camera unopened on his shoulder. “Pictures won’t do it justice.”

That probably answered my next question. “Speaking of pictures, aren’t you going to take any photographs?” I realized it might not show the grandeur but it would spark our memories.

“No. Let’s come back tomorrow when the sun is at our back. It will light up the faces,”

“Anyway, it’s getting late.” Max motioned toward the low hanging sun. “We need to find the campground. Tomorrow we can drive here on Needles Highway. It’s a great view.”

Back in our vans, we headed toward Custer State Park where we set up camp and enjoyed an evening meal prepared on the camp stove. From our camp site, we watched buffalo on a distant hill silhouetted in a golden sun set.

The morning awakened us with warm sun, and we readied ourselves for the trip back to Mount Rushmore on Needles Highway, a winding mountain road with steep cliffs dropping into the valley below.

I headed for our van and then stopped. “Which van?”

“I’ll drive, ” Max said. “We’ve been here before. You’ll probably want to see the view.”

“And take pictures.” I laughed as I watched Bob loading up his camera bag.

“The view is spectacular” Jan turned to us in the back seat as we hopped into the van.

The scenery was magnificent. Mountain terrain surrounded us with pine valleys below, and ahead we began to see the pointed rocks, the needles, jutting into the sky. Bob unhooked his seat belt and moved toward the window to take a photograph. I followed suit, and Max slowed so we could get our shots.

Moving along again, the drop off made me nervous, and I avoided looking at the steep drop on our right, but the left side of the road came to life with a profusion of colorful wild flowers, luring me to keep my focus away from the cavern below. “Look at those flowers. Those red ones are beautiful.”

“Where? I didn’t see them.” My sister craned her neck to catch the view.

“There.” I pointed, but she missed them, again.

“There’s some more over there.” Max swung his arm toward them, and as he did, I felt the van sway to the right and slip off the road onto the narrow soft shoulder. Through the window, I saw the ravine below.

Max could do nothing. Bob and I, having forgotten to reattach our seat belts, began to slide as the shoulder crumbled away.

“Oh no.” Max attempted to right the tires, but it was too late. As if in slow motion, the van tipped, and we tumbled over the edge.

“Dear Lord, protect us.” My prayer lifted as the van rolled onto its side. For a

moment, I thought we had stopped, but we continued to roll. Things flew past me—paper towel, duffel bags, shoes, boxes. I was tossed, and my mind repeated over and over, “Lord be with us.” Something hit my arm. My knee scraped against metal.

Suddenly, we stopped. Silence settled around us before I heard my sister’s trembling voice. “Is everyone all right?”

“I’m okay, I think.” I saw my husband above me. “Are you all right, Bob? Can you get up?”

“If you get off of me.”

Off of him? Dazed, I was confused. I struggled to gain perspective. Jan and Max hung from the ceiling. being held by the seat belts, I realized, and we were on the roof. Jan was the first to attempt to right herself. All of us found it difficult to gain perspective.

I sent up a quiet thank you for God’s saving grace. My legs shaking, I tried to right myself and fearful of how we could make our way back up to the road.

Before my fear took over, I heard a noise outside the van and realized someone was trying to open the sliding door.

“Are you all right in there?” We heard the man’s voice first before the van door slid open and a face looked down at us. “My family and I were coming from the other direction . We saw you go over. God was with you. You probably don’t realize but your van was stopped by a tree.”

He reached out to pull us from the van while fearful faces looked down at us from the road above. Another family joined them, and little by little, one person holding another, they descended over the edge and pulled us up from the wreckage.

A women with tears in her eyes tried to smile. “You’re all okay. God be praised. I couldn’t believe it when you went over. It was terrible.”

Safely on the road above, we looked down into the fifty foot ravine, and focused in awe on the single pine tree that saved us from continuing to roll downward to the bottom.

A road crew passing by called for assistance, and, in a few hours, the van was back on solid ground. We examined our cuts and bruises, but otherwise, we were unhurt.

Inspecting the van’s damage, Max noticed the windshield had been shattered. Our heavy items were left at the campground, but an axe, left unknowingly under the back seat, traveled through the van and shattered the front window without harming any of us. The Lord had sent His angels to shield us from harm.

Shaken and sore, Bob and I climbed into the police truck to return to the campground for our van. As we traveled only 500 yards more down the road, we saw, just beyond the road’s shoulder, the ground plunging thousands of feet into the valley below.

“You folks were sure lucky,” the officer said, gesturing toward the drop off . “You could have gone over the edge here.”

“We weren’t lucky. We were blessed.”

I did not see the angels that day, but I know they were there. The flying axe, the deep ravine just yards away, the single tree that held us fast, the families who aided us, all of these things assured me that guardian angels reached out to protected us. God looked down on us with His steadfast love.

©1995 Gail Gaymer Martin



I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. (Psalms 91:14-15 NRSV)


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  1. Davalynn Spencer March 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    We had just moved to a new town. Our two small children and I were running errands and before we headed home I believed I just had to wash the car. Unfamiliar with safe and unsafe areas, I pulled into a do-it-yourself car wash. While hurriedly hosing and soaping the vehicle, I was overwhelmed with a sense of danger and started praying that God would protect us. On the way home, my three-year-old Amanda said, “Mama, did you see the man with the big muscles?”

    I knew there had been no “man” because I’d kept a vigilant watch on our surroundings as I finished the car. Amanda insisted the man with big muscles had been there, watching us, and even told me where he stood. I had not seen him, but I believed her. And to this day I know God answered my prayers to protect us and sent His mighty angel to do the job. Amanda believes it was an angel she saw. Our God is amazing and is unlimited in the ways He watches over us.

    • Gail Gaymer Martin March 11, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      What an amazing story, Davalynn. Children connect with things adults can’t see or understand because of their trust and purity. I love hearing of your experience, and your daughter can say she did see an angel.

  2. Cass Wessel March 10, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Gail, awesome rescue!
    Years ago, my hubby, children and I crammed into our station wagon headed East to visit his family for Thanksgiving. Along I-80 in Indiana, near midnight, we hit a blowing, slushy, lake-effect snowstorm. Visibility hovered near zero in a pelting snow band. As we pulled clear, directly in front of us, wreckage scattered across the highway. Patrol cars blocked the berms on both sides as a policeman furiously waved a flashlight for us to stop–but ice under our wheels had other ideas careening us forward. I can remember throwing my arm across my daughter as I braced myself for the inevitable collision.
    Not three feet of space existed through which our full size wagon could have squeezed. Yet, we came out on the other side, unscathed. To this day I don’t know how we survived. My husband’s exclamation offered me the only explanation, “Boy, God’s angels sure watched over us tonight!”

    • Gail Gaymer Martin March 11, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Cass, Isn’t God amazing. I can relate to your story. I’ve experienced a few near misses in my life with accidents up ahead and trying to stop in bad weather. When we end up safe, we know that the Lord intervened. One night on a dark road my husband and I were heading to a store open late, and we saw a car with wheel’s spinning moving toward us on the other side of the street. What we didn’t know is he was pulling a car out of a ditch on a long piece of rope with no one in the car to steer. The car came shooting out of the culvert totally flying at the end of the rope and heading for us. My heart stopped and somehow it swevered ast it got close and missed us by inches. That was another strange experience where we gasped realizing the near accident experience and the Lord’s intervention.

  3. Harry Sutton March 11, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    You state that you have never “seen” an angel, but you know they exist. You failed to mention that you have been and still are, either in reality or the tool of, a genuine angel. Your words are a gift to many hearts and souls. Your help is immense and in so many ways you have lifted others and not even known. Your “angel bootcamp” started many years ago when you were teaching; as a result you earned your Halo. Your words became your wings, and your voice your harp, all to be spread across this planet like a morning mist of love. It is no wonder you have an abgel looking out for you, afterall, they also take care of thier own. H.S. 3/10/13

    • Gail Gaymer Martin March 11, 2013 at 11:20 am #

      Harry, I hope I influenced those lovely phrases and poetic language you used. I’m always touched by your compliments and I suppose it’s because I loved what I did and do. If we listen, the Lord can guide us to the places we are meant to be, and I know He has guided me into both teaching and writing. You are an amazing example of what we can do with our lives if we persue.


  4. Jean Ann Williams March 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    About 28 years ago, my teenage son and I were stuck on a sheer cliff rock. We couldn’t go up and we could go back. The face was slippery with water. I found out I had a phobia of heights on the rock, and froze in fear. As I rested and prayed, crying, my vision narrowed onto a tuff of grass. I gripped the grass and found it strong.

    Even though, we slipped on the water, we made it up to the top where grass was within reach the rest of the way up. I know God’s angels helped us that day and God’s creation, tough grass, got us up to safety.

    What a tremendous story, Gail, thank you for sharing. Praise the Lord you are still here. :))

    Jean Ann Williams

  5. Paulyn Aneke April 13, 2013 at 6:48 am #

    i am amazed at God’s work sometimes the reality of them is like a dream.when God turned the captivity of the children of isreal they were like they that dreamed. in march 2007 at about one am we were robbed.we had just got married late the previou year and didnt have much.they took everything they could lay their hand on.they also threatened to shoot my husband.i was grateful to God who kept them from doing what they thought to do.i was pregnant and couldnt drive.if they had shot either of us it may mean death before help reached us particularly in a place where we were new.

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