It was Thanksgiving weekend, and Andrew Koval, an avid sportsman, decided to take advantage of the weather.
“I’m going hunting,he called to his wife. “I’ll be back at five-thirty.” Andrew knew his limits; due to an old baseball injury, one of his knees was good for about two hours of walking before pain set in. In addition, darkness ness would fall at about five o’clock, and since it was already late in the day, his time was short. Andrew drove to his favorite hunting spot a few miles from his home in rural Cambridge, Ohio, just down the road from a farm where he bought hay every spring. He parked in a familiar hilly area near a field.
He walked awhile, flushed a few grouse out of their hiding places, but never got close enough to try a shot. And, as he slowly realized, his heart wasn’t really in the sport today. “My nephew John Grimes had died of cancer the past summer,” Andrew explains. “We had been very close, working and golfing and socializing together, but most of all, hunting grouse together.” Andrew had grieved deeply for the younger man, and now, in this place where they’d spent so much time together, doubts crowded his mind. Was there really a God? If so, did Andrew believe in him? Was there a heaven? Was John there? Did life, another kind of life, go on after death? As a self-described lukewarm Catholic, Andrew “still had that little doubt.” How could he know for sure? Andrew had been lost in thought for some time, but it was getting ting dark, and his expedition was over for the day. He started back to the car. “On the way, I flushed a grouse and decided to follow it to get off at least one shot. The bird flew in the opposite direction, but being in familiar territory, I wasn’t concerned.”
As the sun began to set, Andrew lost sight of the bird. No problem, he told himself. The terrain was wooded, but he knew about where he was. If he walked back in a straight line, he ought to reach the car in about fifteen minutes. And that’s what he did, or thought he did. But soon Andrew realized he had passed the same marker twice. He was going in a circle. What to do? “I was wearing a light hunting vest, and it was getting ting colder,” he says. “My knee had started to hurt. I kept walking west, trying to reach an area that I recognized.” Surely he would hit a road soon and be able to flag down a vehicle. He walked and walked, only to realize that he was again traveling in a circle. He thought again of his resourceful young nephew, who would surely have found the way out of this maze.
Cold and tired, his knee throbbing, Andrew knew his wife and son were going to be very worried. How long would it be before they alerted the sheriff? If only he had a cell phone. Should he try to build a temporary shelter and wait to be found? Could he withstand a winter night with a vest as his only warmth? There was another option, although he didn’t think of it right away. He could pray. It had been a long time since Andrew had really talked to God. But if God were everywhere,even here in this lonely forest, he would surely hear.
Andrew sat down under a tree. “God,” he whispered. “I don’t know if you’re listening. But if you are, I need help.” More minutes passed, and a plan came to him. He should climb the highest hill, look for a light, and head straight for it. It was almost as if God were whispering in his ear, “Look for the light.” Andrew didn’t know if it was God’s voice or not. But there was a high hill nearby. Gathering the last of his failing strength, Andrew staggered to the top. At last! He ought to be able to see a lot of the countryside from here. But he could hardly believe it. There was no light visible, not in any direction. No distant signal blinking from a house or store, not even car headlights distant signal blinking from a house or store, not even car headlights moving in the blackness. It hadn’t been a heavenly message, after all. Yet the feeling of comfort and guidance had been so real. Look. for the light. Andrew understood just then that the real light in his life ought to be God, no matter what happened to him now or in the future.
His leg ached, and his fear of freezing was strong. But he had felt the light, just a little, and he wouldn’t let it dim again. Slowly, he turned away. He would go back down the hill and wait. Andrew gazed into the blackness once more, his eyes narrowing. ing. Was it a mirage? No, there in the distance … It was a light! Not in the same direction as his car, but Andrew had run out of choices. He would go toward it. Whoever owned it might have a phone, or warmth, or some way to help him. “I must have walked at least another mile, but I was able to keep the light in view the whole time, despite the trees,” Andrew says. Unexpectedly, he came upon the road where he had parked his car. It was sitting right there! Astonished, Andrew scrambled inside, turning on the engine and the heater full blast. Soon he was blissfully warm and content, as if this terrible experience had never happened. He should get home now, to relieve his wife’s fears. But oddly, he could still see the light streaming from a field about three or four hundred yards down the road, near the farm he visited each spring.
He was so late already-it wouldn’t make much difference if he drove down and looked to see exactly what had brought him safely out of his ordeal. So he decided to go take a look. “There in the field was a two-story house, every room brightly lit, with two floodlights on each corner,” he says. “There were people working all around, both inside and out.” Andrew remembered then that this land was owned by a real estate agent and was for sale in five-acre lots. He had no idea that a house had already been built here. “I thought it was strange that I hadn’t known, and also that every room was blazing with light and there was so much activity.” But he had his answer, and he turned around in the house’s driveway and went home.
It was almost nine o’clock by the time Andrew arrived, and his worried wife was preparing to call the sheriff and arrange a search party. But he assured her he was none the worse for wear, and told her about the house. “I haven’t heard about any construction over there,” his wife mused. “But wasn’t it fortunate that you saw the lights?”
Andrew didn’t grouse hunt for the rest of the season. But when spring arrived, he decided it was time to visit the local farmer and buy his straw. Andrew turned onto the same county road where he had seen the house, and he began to look for it. Now he would see if it was as big and beautiful-and busy-during the day as it had looked on that memorable night. Maybe he would even pull into the driveway, ring the doorbell, and tell the owner how his marvelous lights had probably saved Andrew’s life. Andrew approached the lot where the house had been. But there was no building there, or anywhere around it. The area looked just as it had last spring when Andrew had come to buy his straw. Completely deserted. He was certainly looking at the same spot where he had been that night-he remembered the familiar markers, the hills beyond, and the driveway where he’d turned around. Had the people who built the house belatedly discovered that their well was inadequate? This had happened before, and when it did, an owner would occasionally sionally have his house moved to another lot. Andrew went past the lot and pulled into the farm driveway. The farmer’s sister came out to greet him. After purchasing his straw, Andrew paused for a moment. “I was wondering what happened to that big new house down the road,” he asked. The woman looked puzzled. “What house?” “The one with all the lights. In the new subdivision. Did they have to move it because of a bad well?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about. The builder never sold any of those lots. There has never been a house there.” “But …” Andrew felt a shiver. The woman was looking at him as if he were a bit odd. He didn’t say any more, but he knew what he had seen.
Andrew has never found any evidence that a house was on that lot, or anywhere around there. But he is as sure today as he was that night that it was there. “I have come to believe that God was responsible for it,” he says, “because the whole experience completely resolved any doubts I may have had about him, and about the continuance of life after death on earth.” And perhaps his nephew was involved, too. One never knows, when one is willing to ask, just what marvels the Light will bring.
~Source:”Guardian Angels” by Joan Wester Anderson