“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
I had been on the road for about two hours, making good time and thinking I would be back in Louisville before 8:00. But in a moment my plans were changed, and I found myself on a new “assignment,” “adventure,” whatever you want to call the unexpected event.
I had made it from the Michigan town where I had attended an author event, as far as Ohio, when traffic on the highway in a major city suddenly became heavy. Several vehicles slowed to a complete stop, and I could see the car in front of me fishtailing to keep from hitting the car in front of him. I slammed on the brakes, barely avoiding a collision, but a split second later I felt the unmistakable sensation of being slammed into from behind. My first thought was profound:
After pulling off to the side of the street, I looked around amid stuff that had been thrown about – my purse and its contents (I really need to get into the habit of zipping that thing up.) the box from the restaurant that had held (loosely) leftover salad from lunch, and a little of everything else, except my phone, which was in an unknown location, having flown off its holder.
My next thought was OK, I’m alive. Thank You, Lord. My thoughts went back to the meeting my husband and I had had with a lawyer a few days prior to update our wills, and the fact that I had started a letter to the worship pastor at our church, telling him what kind of service I wanted in the event I should be “called home.” As I sat amid the mess in the front seat of my car, I told myself, I really need to get that letter written!
Pulling my mind back into the present moment, I got out and approached the vehicle behind me, where a teenaged girl looked shaken, and asked if she was OK. She said yes, although “That was scary.” I agreed. The front of her little car looked like a smashed tin can with dangling headlights.
My car, on the other hand, didn’t show much damage, and what upset me more than the crash was having no clue where my cell phone was. Even when I had the young lady call my number, I couldn’t hear it ring. I wondered if it had been flung off the side of the road and lost forever – my address book, my camera, my photo album, well, you get it. I was seriously bothered.
After about fifteen minutes, at last I found my phone, beneath the carpet under the passenger seat, wedged into a small space in the floor. (Go figure.) I called the police to report the accident, and when they asked if anyone was hurt, I honestly told them “No.” (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) Consequently, it was nearly two hours before the police showed up. The girl’s father arrived more promptly, a little shaken himself, partly because the car his daughter had been driving was totaled, and mostly relieved that she was all right.
While we were waiting for the police to arrive, much of the time the young lady and I sat on the side of the hill, talking and getting to know each other. To be more exact, we were learning each other’s life stories. I’ve always loved teenagers, and she was the kind of kid I could like right away – open and transparent, telling me some very personal things about her life, which I won’t share here. Not surprisingly, like many young people, she had struggled with anxiety, and I was sure this present situation wasn’t helping. I noticed she seemed anxious whenever her attention went back to her car, and I felt it best to keep her talking about other things. Once her dad was on the scene and we had to focus on the crash, he and I ended up reminiscing about our first accidents. (At the age of sixteen I had done to my Mustang pretty much what she’d done to her car.) I think that might have helped her feel a little better; nobody’s perfect.
Of course, at one point in our conversation about school and such, I asked her if she liked to read, and when she said “yes,” I gave her one of my books written for teens and young adults, which just happened to be in my car after the author event. 😉 Since she had a job at a well known candle company, she in turn gave me something to make my car smell good.
When the ordeal was over and I left, we hugged and wished each other the best. I remember thinking as I drove away in my car, which now had the scent of pumpkin spice to drown out the smell of spilled salad – We are SUCH GIRLS! (Somehow I can’t see guys behaving the way we did.)
Romans 8:28 says, basically, that there’s a reason for everything if we love the Lord – and if we are called by Him. In other words, even before we know Him, things are working together to bring us to Him. Although she and I had prayed together, thanking God for our lives, I don’t know exactly what that teen’s relationship with God is. I do know that if she reads the book I gave her, she’ll know how to know Him, if she doesn’t already. And I hope that rather than increasing her anxiety, that crash just might be something she’ll look back on and see as part of God’s plan in her life. She is still alive, so He certainly has something planned for her.
To put it another way, I don’t believe that accident was entirely an accident.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for sparing my life and the life of that young girl. Help me never to take for granted that every day of life is a bonus – another day to serve You. Help us both to fulfill Your purpose for us, in Jesus’ name. Amen