Nine Jars of Honey

It was Christmas 1977. My wife, I, and our seven-month-old son were traveling from South-Central California to Portland, Oregon in a two-door Toyota. We had packed carefully since we would be gone for a week and needed many things for the baby. We had enough gifts and other stuff to make the back seat level with the bottom of the back window.

Along with the other gifts, we were taking three sets of three pint-size glass jars of honey (sage, orange, and alfalfa), packed in wooden gift crates decorated for Christmas. Somehow these were the last items packed into the trunk. The only space left was a narrow three-inch wide area between some boxes and the back of the car near the left tail light. I had to push and hold the boxes to make the honey crates fit.

We left the morning of Christmas Eve asking God to protect us on this wintery trip. As we drove over the Siskiyou Summit south of Ashland, Oregon, we were hit from behind and the car spun around on the ice and snow, ending up on the right side against a snow bank. My first thoughts were the safety of my wife and son. Everyone was unharmed except for some sore necks.

All of a sudden I remembered those nine glass jars of honey in little wooden gift crates! I knew there was a mess in the trunk that could take days to clean up. After getting out, I found the left rear was smashed so far that the wheel well of the car was pressed against the tire. We needed to be towed on Christmas Eve (cash only please)!

Reaching into the trunk between boxes and the metal of the car, I extracted with great effort three wooden crates with nine unbroken glass jars of honey! Why did God allow the accident? Was there a place further down the freeway where we might have slid off the road, over a cliff and been killed? Was it because God knew the story would be retold many times as a testimony to His care? I don’t know, but I do know that unbroken jars of honey were a divine sign to me that God was watching over us—even through the accident. And that was an even better Christmas gift than the sweetest honey!

Dennis Hollingsead works in the Office of Development at Andrews University. This story first appeared in the bulletin of Pioneer Memorial Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan on December 14, 2013. It is reprinted here with permission.

Image Credit: Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Where are the replies ?

One thing I’ve learned about SDA human behavior – including my own – since I’ve found this Spectrum website, is that good news is unremarkable.
It takes a good atrocity to boil SDA blood and heat the keyboards up.

I have worked much of the last 6 months in Minnesota with a tall, hairy self-described ‘Sasquatch’ of a younger man whose Puddleglumy, gloomy pessimism never fails to make me chuckle.

Remember Puddleglum in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia stories ? The ‘Marshwiggle’ who could always put the worst face on any situation, and once said, “Life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie.” ? That’s my co-worker !

Then, again, there is Mark Twain’s:

“It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition.
There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with his coal,
complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it.”

So, let’s not forget all the Honey Bees’ days and days of hard work that was preserved in spite of the merely human car accident . . . or all of the Blossoms those Bees pollinated to help preserve plant life in the process of making that honey.

Thankfully, life on Earth is not just about unthankful human critters like myself !

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?
And not one of them is forgotten before God.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12: 6-7

In 1983, my new wife had made delicious veggie stew for our supper, and after a day’s hard work I was eager to get at it. But, at the table I dutifully paused to give thanks, as I felt our new Black Lab-Collie dog sweetly rise to the occasion and place her two lily-white front paws on my lap.
( Do I hear an, “A-a-a-w-w !” ?)

I gave her a hug and a petted her silky puppy coat, with my eyes still reverently closed before Heaven’s gaze. . .
Then I heard her tongue lapping the stew from my bowl !

Sometimes its simply not just about us humans, but we can still get ‘worked up’ about it . . .
can’t we ?

Still, why didn’t God protect my bowl of stew ?
I was praying to Him, wasn’t I ?

I’m so glad that He did not !
I’d give a lot of stew to pat that thief-of-a-pooch, and to see my wife and her together, again.


There are among us fortunate individuals who grew up during their formative years in that “Goldilocks zone” who had the perfect combination of genetics and family upbringing and able to develop proper inter-personal relationships as reflected in their devotion to their God. This devotion comes in 50 shades of “gray,” one being seeing the face of god in clouds or in objects, which is commonly practiced by RCs and frowneded upon by SDAs. Isn’t this the same phenomenon in this story? Why is it wrong for others but right for us?


We humans are vulnerable to manipulation - even by our own psyches. We look for guarantees of God’s special protection. The entire OT is filled with that quest, even in the presence of Job - a point of consternation. Then you have Jesus own words - Whatsoever you ask in my name…

So we have a tornado destroying a town and lonesome buildings still standing in the rubble. On camera, a family thanks God for saving their home and their lives. What this says is that God chose not to bless their neighbour and 90% of the town that remains in splinters? This is a hard thing to sort out - the prayers for “travel blessings”, and signs of God’s protective hand.

I had a personal encounter with this issue. My daughter was facing surgery to remove a suspicious ovarian cyst while pregnant with her first child. I was scheduled to fly out to be by her side. To relieve the pressure, I took a three mile walk. At some point, up ahead, a black cat crossed the road. Instead of sending terror to my soul I found God to have a sense of humor, sending the black cat, I had to chuckle instead. I was assured, at that point, that all would be good. But that was just me - and was my version of seeing Jesus’ face in the corn flakes. Of course, black cats and cornflakes not withstanding, blessings and cursing are all in the “eye of the beholder”. And maybe that’s OK.