Last October was a bad month for cars. On a Friday my son totaled the Volvo. Nine days later I wrecked the Toyota Corona I was renting for a Michigan trip. Motorists, beware the Seus.
My predominant emotion after both the Friday and the Sunday events was unadulterated gratitude. (Give me a few more accidents and my joy will know no bounds!) I have blogged about Calvin's mishap; my own came to pass at that time of morning "before one could recognize another," as the book of Ruth (3:14) poetically puts it-it was at 7:15 when silhouettes were struggling to emerge. My CD player was playing, "His mercies are new every morning," which I reference for local color.
At 70 miles an hour, when you see a large deer suddenly standing stately in your direct path just yards from impact, you swerve. I promise you, you swerve. Notwithstanding what the Michigan branch of my automobile insurance company says, you do this for three reasons, I think: (1) instinct; (2) the animal is a brick wall at that speed; (3) the majesty of the beast precludes any other choice.
(Parenthetically speaking, it is best to choose words carefully when describing the occurrence to the insurance representative. Passive voice is preferable to active voice. Telling her that after turning the wheel, "I lost control of the car" puts you in the "at fault" category. If you have to say anything, say, "The car was flung out of control.")
When you swerve, you learn something about mass and velocity that they tried to tell you in seventh-grade science, but that wasn't very interesting then: The vehicle will not make a polite little crescent moon loop around the obstruction but will take on a mind of its own, depositing you, after a while, pointing downward toward the road on a bank, upon which you have suddenly, by some unseen guiding hand, avoided all the major trees.
When I came to a stop, I noticed I was alive and unscratched. I opened the door, and fell to my knees and worshipped. My life was now God's in a new way it had not been before, like one of those Old Testament bondswomen with awl to ear (Exodus 21:6).
Here is the reason I tell the story. This trip was bathed in prayer. My friend David was praying for me. His father near Detroit was praying for me. The editors of this magazine were praying for me, which is not their job, strictly speaking. Someone of cantankerous bent might say, "See, God didn't answer prayer." I reply, "See, God answered prayer for my safety." Cantankerous comes back, "Well, couldn't He have prevented the whole thing-the deer, the drama, the damage?"
I say, of course, but it would be rather silly of me to second-guess all the reasons He did it this way rather than another. I mean, I met a lot of nice people in West Branch, Mich., (Hi, Theresa at Wal-Mart!) whose lives, besides mine, all had to be altered at this point in order for God to bring about the culmination of the ages as scripted a zillion years ago.
Martha and Mary said words similar to Cantankerous, though I know they loved Jesus. They had prayed for their brother Lazarus to get better. When he died they said to Jesus, perplexed, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21).
The life of faith is an adventure, I'm learning. If you take up the adventure, you're on pins and needles all the time to see what He'll do next, but it's a good kind of pins and needles. You're focused on the present moment, set free from the past, and confident in the future.
Some Christians are going to die in an accident like I had. It doesn't mean God loves them less. It means He wanted them home, which, as Paul said, and I concur, is better (Philippians 1:23). The first part of their adventure has come to an end. But by far the best part is just about to begin.
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