When I first arrived at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, I was shocked at how bleak it was. Shortly after getting my orders to go to Minot, I heard all the jokes about the place. “Why not Minot? Freezin’ is the reason!” Although I grew up in the countryside of Maryland, it didn’t look anything like Minot. If I had been saved back then, I would have said, “No Moses, there are no trees here in Minot” (cf. Numbers 13:20 NIV). The worst part about being stationed at Minot was that it was my choice.

I never asked to be stationed directly at Minot Air Force Base. I was an avid downhill skier in those days. When I was filling out my “dream sheet” of bases where I wanted to be stationed after technical school, I chose Guam (my best friend was going there, and it’s close to Australia), Loring AFB in Maine, or any Northern Tier Base. To the best of my knowledge, all of the Air Force bases in the Northern part of the United States were near ski resorts. I figured that I’d be okay for skiing as long as I didn’t get stationed in the South.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Minot AFB existed. In the North. The frigid north, so when the Air Force saw that I wanted to be stationed there, it must have clapped its hands with glee. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only airmen I knew from my technical school that got orders for Minot, so before I left, we all touched base with each other so we’d be able to share our misery while in Minot.

Once I got to Minot, I remember asking, “What is there to do here?” There’s hunting, fishing, and drinking. I grew up hunting and fishing, but I don’t like killing things, so there’s that. Given that I was underage, there wouldn’t be much drinking. Ah, but there was a caveat to the drinking. Minot was considered an isolated base, so drinking was allowed on the base in designated areas. I was younger then than I am now, and while drinking had its appeal, I wanted to go out and meet new people and have fun.

The “solution” for fun in Minot was Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Regina was a little over 4 hours from Minot, where many young airmen would go on weekends to unwind. If they weren’t hunting or fishing and they were under twenty-one.

Shortly after arriving in Minot, it began to snow. Yet, things like the weather didn’t stop the airmen from driving through blizzard conditions to the beacon that was Regina. After a fun weekend, my three buddies and I were packed into a Transam headed back to Minot when we needed to stop for gas. It had been snowing, but the roads appeared to be clear. One of the driving hazards in North Dakota is “black ice.” Because the wind is constantly blowing, ice can form in the most unexpected places.

On the way to get gas, it’s here that the details become fuzzy. I remember that as we headed to a nearby station outside the base, we hit a patch of black ice and started spinning while barreling toward our destination. Gas pumps. I was sitting in the passenger seat in the back with no room to move. As we turned toward the gas pumps, I knew I was going to die. I didn’t think I was going to die. I knew it.

When I first got to Minot, we had to watch videos about the area. Safety films about, well, safety. Since Minot also serviced nearby missile silos and the other regions off base, there was a lot of travel on-duty on civilian roads. Thus, we saw videos about what happened when people drove military vehicles carelessly.

As we slid to our fiery death, I saw the headline, “Four Airmen Die in Gas Station Explosion.” Instead of being afraid, as the gas pumps grew closer and we spun about, a calm unlike any I had ever felt overcame me. As the tires got traction and the car came out of the spin, sliding toward the gas pumps, I accepted my death. Thus, when my side of the car bumped into the curb guarding the pumps and I saw the glass on the pumps shaking through my window, I was relieved and disappointed. I was not going to die today. At least not in a fiery crash. That was the relief. I’m not sure what I was disappointed about. Perhaps it was that I stared death in the face, and it wasn’t all that.

Other times, in the long 8-10 hour weekend drives to and from Regina, I could have died, yet none of those events matched the first time. In all of those events, one thing I never even thought about what that God was watching over me. He was watching over us, but we didn’t know it. This reminds me of something Jesus said when he sent out the 72 disciples in Luke.

“‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near‘” (emphasis added).

Luke 10:11 (NIV)

Jesus told the 72 disciples that if a town didn’t welcome them, the disciples were to wipe the dust off their feet as a warning to the town. The warning was that the kingdom of God had been near to them, and they missed it.

Things happen in our lives, and sometimes we miss it, like all those times on the road when I could have died and all of the times since. It was God. Sure, when we narrowly get out of a situation, we might say, “Thank God,” but do we? Or is saying, “Thank God,” just something we say? Miracles happen daily, and even when we don’t recognize them as miracles, they are still miracles.

My prayer today is that we see God in our lives. We open our eyes to see what He’s doing, we open our ears to hear what He’s saying, and we unburden our hearts to line up with his. That you, if you don’t yet know the Lord, you wouldn’t miss the fact that the kingdom of God is near you.

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, freed from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart and receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.