I saw it coming out of the corner of my eye, but before I could react there was the sound of splintering glass and screeching metal-on-metal impact. Then…nothing.
I’m not sure how long I was out, but I woke slowly. I remember wondering: “What is that sound? And that horrible smell?” The car horn was blaring, and the acrid chemical odor was from the airbags that had deployed, but it had yet to make sense to me.
Slowly raising my head, I saw a man run up to the car. He came to the window, telling me to turn off the car that I hadn’t realized that, though motionless, was still running. Unable to think for myself, I looked at him again, waiting for the next directive.
“Get out of the car.”
About that time I began to comprehend that I had been in an accident. Immediately I looked to see what happened to the other car. My blood ran cold when I spotted it, flipped upside down, roof partially caved in, lying in a pool of glass.
“I’ve killed someone! I’ve killed someone!” That was all my fuzzy brain could grasp.
I got out of the car, and the man led me to the curb. Two women ran up to check on me.
“Are you Christians?” I beseeched. “Would you please pray with me?” And these two women, unknown to me, bent their heads and we prayed for the others involved. I heard the paramedics arrive, and then the fire truck. The women asked if there was someone I could call.
I pulled out my phone, but could remember neither phone numbers, nor how to work the phone itself. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the church I worked at was #1 on the speed dial, so I hit that and had them transfer me to my administrative assistant. I asked her to call my sister for me, and told her where I was.
Once my sister, Annette, arrived I fell into her arms, sobbing. My chest ached from the seat belt impact, and my head felt like it was going to explode. She provided a safe place for me to let go.
Then the paramedic came, wanting to do a quick check on me. As he walked me around the fire truck I spotted my brother-in-law Pete, who was a fire captain. It was his truck that had responded. His calm, encouraging manner was a blessing. They wanted me to go to the hospital, too.
“How are they?” I asked, referring to the other people involved in the accident. Pete had actually been the one to crawl inside their car and pull them out. His words were encouraging; they were alive, and on their way to the hospital. I hadn’t killed them after all!
The policeman met us at the hospital to take our statements. He reassured me that the accident was not my fault, and the other people were doing okay.
His summary? “When I saw the accident scene, I thought for sure there were fatalities. I can’t believe you all walked away.”
While there are some lingering physical effects from that accident ten years ago, I know there was so much grace and mercy God extended to all of us. It could have been so much worse.
Sometimes it’s frustrating when I hear people telling kids, or each other, that God will protect and keep them safe. I know they mean well, but God never promises that we will be safe. Hard things happen; people lose jobs, they get in car accidents, their homes burn down. Sad things occur; mothers die of cancer, planes crash, and soldiers die in war.
God never promises that we will not suffer; in fact, He predicts we will (John 16:33). What He does promise is to be with us when we do (Hebrews 13:5b), and reassures us that He is close to us when our hearts are breaking (Psalm 34:18). He assures us that He will sustain and renew us (Matthew 11:28-30) and that He is our friend, who sticks closer even than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is near—He is always near—and He is present in whatever hard situation we find ourselves in (Psalm 46:1).
When I had that accident I felt the presence of God. In the prayers of the two women, in the hug from my sister, and in the presence of my brother-in-law, He was very near.
That is His promise, and along with David my heart responds:
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. Psalm 138:2 (NLT)
Because He promised, God is near both now and forever.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
1. Have you ever communicated, intentionally or inadvertently, that God will always protect and keep us safe?
2. Look up the verses mentioned above. Pick one that speaks to your heart, and write it down on a 3x5 card. Carry it in your wallet to refer to when you need it.
Father, thank You that all Your promises are backed by the honor of Your name. Your love and faithfulness are unfailing. You are near, and no matter what, You always will be. I am never alone…