By Gene Ardis
When I was 12, my family moved to a beautiful lake-side home. It was primitive in many ways, but we had 1,000 feet of waterfront, and we made the place home; many people visited us there over the years. My dad had just been baptized into the Radio Church of God two years before, in 1961.
We lived in a small town in the lower part of South Carolina. The nearest congregation was in Atlanta. Today, it’s about a five-hour drive, but at that time no interstate highways existed in South Carolina or Georgia, so the trip to Church took eight hours—then another eight hours to get back home.The ministers advised my dad that we only attend every other Sabbath, so that is what we did. On the Sabbaths we did not travel to Atlanta, we would all dress up in our Sabbath best and go outside in nice weather, and Daddy would read to us for hours from The Bible Story, the Plain Truth, the Good News, or Mr. Armstrong’s letters or booklets. We spent a good part of the day outside in the beauty of the Sabbath day.
In those days, my mom was antagonistic to the Church, so keeping peace on the Sabbath was always a major concern. That was another reason we stayed outside as much as we could.
One particular Sabbath morning, as Daddy read to the four of us kids (ages 2 to 12, at the time), we heard a rumbling coming down the road. It was a big truck with a trailer carrying a huge bulldozer. Daddy had lost our attention for sure. He got up and walked over to where the truck had stopped, just slightly off of our property. The man got out and began to remove the chains and binders from the huge machine as Daddy talked to him. We could see the man shaking his head. As Daddy walked away, the man continued to unchain the dozer. Daddy told us that the man was going to start clearing the land adjacent to us. He had explained what we were doing and asked if the man could start at another location, but he refused.
With the best attitude he could muster, Daddy again started to read, but I think he knew we were paying far more attention to the man unloading his big machine than we were to him. Daddy lost us completely once the dozer roared to life and began pushing over trees like they were matchsticks.
At first, he said we should go inside. But then he suddenly stopped and said, “No. We shouldn’t have to go inside, because we were trying to observe God’s Sabbath in peace and quiet.”
Daddy told us to bow our heads. He sincerely prayed aloud that he needed God’s help. He said he was teaching his children God’s way and he was trying to also keep peace in the family by not going inside, so he needed God’s help. It was the man who was breaking the Sabbath, not us. “… Amen.”
With that, Daddy asked us to sit quietly to see what would happen. It was 50 years ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday. The bulldozer rumbled on for about five minutes after Daddy said “Amen.” Then there was a loud noise followed by a spewing sound. Then we heard the man saying some words that should not be said. The motor of that huge machine stopped, but the spewing, hissing continued. The man walked to the front of the dozer, then walked to his truck and drove away without even tying the chains and binders so they wouldn’t fall off.
As soon as he was out of sight, Daddy got up and walked to the machine. Then he called us over and told us to look at what happens when someone interferes with God’s people.
The grille on the big dozer had bars about three inches apart to protect the radiator. They were barely wide enough for the end of a limb or small tree, if it was at exactly the right angle, could just fit between the bars. One had done just that and gone completely through the radiator, stopping the dozer in its tracks.
Again, we had peace. Daddy started reading again, but only after we all knelt down and thanked God for helping us have a peaceful Sabbath.
The last time I went by there, that land had still not been cleared.
That was one of the first miracles I ever witnessed, and I remember it today as well as I did when it happened 50 years ago.