It was New Year’s Eve. Chris and I had just moved back to our hometown after living in Colorado for 8 years. We had the chance to celebrate the holiday with long time friends, friends we hadn’t celebrated with in ages. We were so excited about the opportunity to get out! We had left our five children with two babysitters, sisters who had agreed to spend the night with our little angels since we might be out very late. I was going to take the baby along, but at the last minute, I decided that he didn’t need to nurse anymore that night, and he could stay home and sleep with the others.
It was already very dark when our minivan drove up the onramp to the highway. Chris, in his typical impatient fashion, maneuvered quickly to the left of a slow merging vehicle. He swiftly crossed the right lane and went directly into the left lane, leaving the slower vehicle still chugging up the on ramp.
“You are not supposed to do that,” I thought to myself. “I know that I would never do that.” I am a more cautious driver.
In a split second, Chris was slamming on the brakes. A dark shape came into view right in front of us, and Chris screeched to a halt to avoid hitting it. I reached out my arm to brace myself. We came to a dead stop in the middle of the highway, a dark car parked in the left lane just inches in front of us. It had no lights on and had been totally hidden by the shadows of the bridge overhead.
BAM! SMASH! CRASH!
We were hit violently from behind and pushed forward into the abandoned car. We were sandwiched between two vehicles, our hearts beating fast and our minds trying to unravel what had just happened. We exited the vehicle, stunned to see that it was smashed up pretty good. A young teenager emerged from the car that had stuck us. She was visibly shaken. A man who had pulled off to the side of the road was yelling at us to get off the highway. Thank God for that man! I was so shocked over what had happened that I was standing still, surveying the wreckage, in the very blind spot that had swallowed an entire car. All of us could have been mowed down by a speeding tractor trailer.
We quickly ran to the shoulder and assessed the situation. Several cars now sat in the highway, smashed and inoperable. We were afraid to run back out to try and move them. We were afraid that other vehicles would pile into them and create a much bigger mess. Thankfully, the emergency vehicles arrived on the scene very quickly, and traffic was prevented from traveling that stretch of highway. It seemed that every police car, ambulance, and fire truck that was close by had come to the scene.
I stood staring into those red flashing lights cutting into the cold, dark night. I was trembling. This was supposed to be a holiday, a special night for celebrating with friends. Instead we were stranded on the side of the highway. Why had this happened? I was sure that if Chris hadn’t been in such a hurry, we could have avoided the abandoned vehicle. It must have been his fault, mustn’t it? Why had he done that? Why were we in the wrong place at the wrong time? Were we doing sometime wrong? Perhaps we should have never gone out driving on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps we had allowed some sin to muddy our thoughts, and we had strayed off the perfect path for our lives. All these thought were whirling around in my mind, thoughts that had become the byproduct of our years in Colorado.
We had been apart of an abusive church, a community of “Christians” who would look at any misfortune in your life and find a reason to blame you for it. Bad things weren’t supposed to happen to good people, were they? So if something bad happened to you, you must have done something to deserve it. You must have sowed bad seed and were now reaping the equally bad harvest.
“This is my mercy”
The still small voice broke into my thoughts.
“What? How can this be mercy?” I thought as I viewed our totaled van and a highway shut down because of us. Then my thoughts began to unwind and straighten out and become more like God’s thoughts. Accidents happen. That doesn’t make it our fault. No one was hurt. Every single person in every vehicle walked away with no injuries. The ambulances drove away empty. The fire trucks had no fires to put out. We were safe!
“Oh my goodness! I was going to bring the baby!”
I remembered that my sweet, little four-month old was sleeping peacefully at home. He had not been in the accident. He was safe! This was God’s mercy! He had not been punishing us for something. He had saved us and our infant son from something that could have been much, much worse. He was not waiting to bring retribution; He was guarding us and protecting us at all times!
It turns out that the van could not be repaired, and the insurance company paid us for it. We were able to take that payment and combine it with Chris’ pick-up truck and get a new van with no monthly payments. That was something we had been specifically praying for. We each also received $5,000 in free chiropractic care, something else we had been praying for. God used this destructive accident to bless us!
So the next time you are looking at a mangled mess that disrupts that flow and peace of your life, God could be saying…
This is my mercy!