As I drove away from work one dark, misty night, I noticed the birthday gift for my married daughter sitting on the front seat. During my lunch break I had found her something I knew she would like. In recent years, we had been absent for several of her birthdays while we lived overseas. I knew how special it would be for her to receive the birthday present in person.

So on the spur of the moment, I decided to make the long trip to her home to drop off the gift. This way she would have it for her birthday the next morning.

It was a cold, wet night. As I coursed along the winding valley road, a sudden patch of fog enveloped the car. I slowed, knowing I still had enough visibility to see oncoming headlights, centreline reflectors and, hopefully, the tail lights of anyone in front of me. Having barely adjusted to this new hazard, I was focusing on another pitch-black, misty bend ahead of me when I was suddenly filled with terror.

In one split second, I was sure my life was about to end. Directly in my fast-closing path was a large, old, unlit vehicle, with neither tail lights nor blinkers on. It was quite stationary in the centre of my lane, waiting to turn into a minor side road on the right.

With no time or space, I could only picture the grinding, crushing impact and fear froze my hands to the wheel. Instinctively feeling the impending pain, I cried out to God in instantaneous prayer. In that self-same moment, I felt another presence take over the wheel. We swerved violently off the road onto the gravel on the left shoulder, which sent me and my car sliding left and then right. I was paralysed in prayer, knowing I was completely in the Lord's hands. After a few seconds that seemed like a small eternity, I suddenly found myself past the vehicle and travelling back on the bitumen in the right direction.

My tearful prayers of gratitude were beyond measure. I arrived at the home of my daughter and son-in-law in one piece, thanking God once again that I was able to leave her present at the front door to surprise her when she got home. In the darkness, the only still, small sound I could hear was James, their cat. But I knew I had just witnessed another presence and I thanked God for my wonderful guardian angel, whose presence had been more real to me than ever before.

For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. Psalms 91:11. May Southern is a receptionist at Signs Publishing Company and lives in Yarra Junction, Victoria.