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THE SEVEN CYLINDER PONTIAC
Wrestling with Principalities and Powers on Michigan back roads
By Steve Van Nattan
The old 1973 Pontiac was blue. It had lost one cylinder somewhere in the past, but it ran great on seven. Some one had given it to a Christian group who supplied cars to missionaries on furlough and to pastors. I was pastoring a church in Grant, Michigan, and I went to Pennsylvania to see what kind of car they might have for a country preacher. There was nothing there that was worthy. On a later trip I bought a fine old Lincoln from them that all the missionaries had passed up as too pretentious.
There was this old dirty Pontiac sitting there that could not be given to a missionary. They said I could have it, and the old Pontiac cost about $50. I used it as a work car in my part time work as a piano tuner. I did not like to carry people in it because it looked pretty bad.
Also, it sounded strange because it fired only on seven cylinders.
One evening my son Mike and I got into the old blue beast and headed for a night or recreation with Christians in the area. We played volley ball in a gym while other people played basketball. For some of us it was a great time to catch up on all the gossip, and for a pastor like me there might be another pastor to fellowship with. Great fun.
After the event, Mike and I got back into ye olde timerous scuttlin beastie, and off we went toward home. We turned off of M-37 onto 112th and were happy to be close to home. As we came over a rise there was a bright red pick up truck in the road, stopped in our lane. Wanting to be helpful, I pulled up next to the pick up and asked Mike to roll his window down. I called to the driver and asked if they were having trouble. It was a lady, and she asked a very dumb question about if I was a pastor of a church. She looked weird and was yelling too loud. She wanted to know if I needed money for the children.
About this time I realized the woman had a problem. I assumed she could be drunk or on drugs. But, what bothered me was that she asked if I was a pastor, and I didn't know her. Now, who would randomly ask such a stupid question of a guy in a derelict Pontiac which looked like it should be safely reposed in a nearby wrecking yard? Pastors are not commonly seen roaring around in blue beaters.
Well, I got nervous. At that point she about panicked and demanded to give me a donation for the children. Which children, I did not know. She was going off in several directions about helping and giving me money. I told Mike to roll the window up, and I went on down the road. This woman (her pick up was bright red and new) took off and came up behind me, and she tail gated my bumper and flashed her high beams up and down. I told Mike that we had a serious problem, and I told him to start praying and ask God to deliver us.
I was getting near home, and I did not want the woman to know where we lived. I had concluded that we were under some sort of attack, demoniac or by a raving lunatic with money. I suppose some of you Baptist preachers would have shouted, "Glory!" and taken the cash. Not this preacher.
I floored the Pontiac and flew right on past our home and church drive way. The old Pontiac was giving all it had on seven cylinders, and we were far from having the reserve of power available to Parnelli Jones at the Riverside 500.
The lady stayed right on my bumper, and she started to try to pass me. Well, being cultivated in driving in East Africa and Ethiopia, I started getting more aggressive. I pulled in front of her and forced here back. She flashed her lights more wildly and started weaving all over the road. I was hitting about 80 MPH on a country road I knew well, and I was not feeling good. The old Pontiac could throw a rod anytime, and my stomach was kind of climbing up my throat. Ever have that feeling yourself? Folks, it don't do you no good. And, I was trying to concentrate to see if some deer or wandering drunk was in the road ahead.
I decided I would have to give her the slip, and I hoped she did not come from our area. I knew all the roads real well, and a plan of attack came to mind. I would go on down to Bridgeton, keeping her behind me by cutting her off. This worked, and I turned into a very windy road which was also well paved. I floored it, topped a hill, and cut hard left. I looked back. Do I dare pray that the Lord would dump someone in the ditch or into a pine tree? No worry.
The she-banchee from hell came over the hill behind me doing a cool 60, cut left, and started flashing her head lights.
We prayed harder and out loud some.
Two more such set ups, which should have put her in the woods turning pine into lumber, failed, and she came on strong. I was still not convinced she was from our area, just maybe lucky and benefiting from crack or devils, or who knows what. So, I told Mike I had the ultimate trick. If she came out of the next one without rolling the pick up, she was a local and deadly-- the whole thing would look like a trap and malice.
I gunned it down through a dark woods in front of the golf course. The road was straight for quite a ways. She tried to pass, I cut her off, flash, flash, "Good," I thought, "She will not know what is coming next if she is all worked up trying to pass." I came to the 90 degree right. It was banked good, but it was still fully a 20 MPH curve. I came into it braking nearly in a skid from about 65 MPH. Let off the brake just as I hit the curve, lights on low beam so she could not see ahead of me well, and whaaap I slammed the steering wheel hard over, and we barely avoided rolling the old bucket.
I looked back dreading the sight of the lady rolling over and over off the top of the curve. There in the rear window was the grill of a Dodge Ram, lights flashing, weaving back and forth. More prayer of the imprecatory variety and with much zeal, my friend.
New strategy. I told Mike, "This lady is not on drugs, she is possessed of devils." I am a good driver, and I knew she would have rolled off that curve if she were a stranger to the area. So, now we have to head for the police station in Newaygo. The Grant cop would be in bed, and while we were waking him up, who knows what the woman would be doing?
I kept the speed up, dodging and weaving and cutting her off. We must have been doing this for at least ten miles so far, and we had about ten to go to the police station. Back onto M-37, and now I floored it again. The state highway was much more busy, and I was afraid the jerk from hell would try to pass head on into another car. I also hoped a cop was around. Not tonight of course.
I topped a hill on the outskirts of Newaygo, and the intersection ahead was full of red and blue flashing lights. Cars and cops were all over the place, and traffic was being flagged through by cops. I have never seen an accident at that intersection, and I was shocked. Next, I almost had tears in my eyes. Mike said something about the Lord getting ready for us. God sent all the cops in Newaygo County to that intersection to be there as we arrived. I came screeching to a stop right in front of the cop flagging traffic. He was getting ready to scold me for driving up too fast, and I yelled, "That lady behind me has been chasing me all over the county. She has to be insane. Could you detain her while I get on down the road?"
As I was talking, I realized who the cop was. He was one of my piano tuning customers, officer Dewisplair. He was the classic I'm-tough-but-like-you cop. God had put a cop there who knew me and would believe me. He "seized the moment" in a way Bill Clinton could only dream about, stepped in front of the pick up, waving me on, and started questioning the lady. He told me later that the lady asked him if he had any kids. He told her he did, whereupon the devil woman offered him $1000 cash for his kids and asked to be let through.
I had gunned it past the scene a little too fast, and a second cop stopped me and asked me why I was going too fast. I asked him to talk to officer Dewisplair, who told the cop to let me go. I went away, my dear reader, along Hess Lake, in a hurry. The devil woman had lost the scent of my poor old Pontiac, and we putted on home in peace-- but still with trembling. We had a praise time later for God's deliverance.
The next week, we decided to go to the volleyball meet again, but we left the Pontiac at home. We had to wonder if the woman knew who we were and where we had been the time before, and we wondered if the whole thing was a set up for some evil purpose. You see, I had been preaching about the occult and Freemasonry a lot before this event.
So, Mike and I piled into Kathy Pugh's car with other church people, and we rode off to the volleyball night. When we left the gym to go through Newaygo on our way home, there sat the Dodge Ram in a filling station with the lights out, waiting for something. That was a creepy feeling.
I learned later that someone put this woman up for the week end, after our chase experience, in the "B Ward" of Gerbers Hospital in Fremont. She qualified to be insane, but in the morning she acquired several of her mental marbles back, and convinced the care takers she was normal. Which shows us something about the rather subjective quality of sanity.
I passed a home with her pick up in front of it a few weeks later. She was walking around acting quite normal. Near her home, I had a report of a skinned dog in the trash can, a teen age girl had been killed and skinned in the woods nearby, and one of the most destructive church destroyers lived just down from her.
Young man, if you are called to be a pastor, and if you do your job as a warrior of Jesus Christ, you will have tribulation, and sometimes it will be dangerous and nearly make you wet your pants. So, count the cost. A true soldier of Jesus Christ will not be found in one of these plush cushy church offices with seven 36 volume commentaries surrounding him. The real warriors are in the field, driving old beaters to a part time job, and being targeted for destruction by the prince of the power of the air.
I wouldn't trade the profession for any other.