Saturday, September 13, 2014

Two Fridays in a Row

Last Friday as I drove home after taking my son to a college visit, I drove the way I usually drive: three or four miles over the speed limit in the slow lane. Every car passed me like I was standing still. Even the eighteen wheelers went around me. Here's the thing: I'm not a NASCAR driver. I'm not in a race to get home. I just want to get home safely.

Then it happened. Just ahead of me. In the fast lane.

Boom. Tires squeal. Rubber flies. Smoke billows. A car careened from the fast lane all the way across the highway and into the grassy shoulder. Did a truck blow a tire? Did cars hit each other. I saw it unfold but it happened so fast that I couldn't decipher what I had seen before I drove past the scene. I'm so glad I was in the slow lane, far out of the way.

My heart raced. I immediately began to pray: Lord, I hope no one got hurt. I hope those people, whoever they are, get home safely tonight. I hope there are no more accidents as other speeding vehicles approach the debris on the highway. Thank you for keeping me out of the way of that accident.

Yesterday as I drove home from a day of silence at Starrette Farm, I was driving the way I usually drive. Only this time, a light was blinking on my dashboard - the low tire pressure warning light. Shoot, shoot, shoot. I remembered that the warning light comes on every 5,000 miles to remind me to get the tire pressure checked, but I had recently taken the car to get the oil changed and knew they had checked the tire pressure. I hoped this warning light was on because they had neglected to reset it. But still... I was concerned. I didn't want to be in the fast lane or the middle lane if I did have a problem, so I moved over to the slow lane, driving warily while watching that light, hoping it would go off on its own.

That's when it happened again. Just ahead of me. In the fast lane.

A Walmart truck blew a tire. Rubber flew. Tires squealed. Cars swerved to avoid each other, some did so unsuccessfully. I pulled off onto the shoulder to avoid the cars that were trying to avoid the vehicles involved in the accident. A pick up truck careened from the fast lane all the way across the highway to the shoulder. It stopped right in front of me. Plumes of white smoke bloomed from the front right corner of the engine block. It reeked of burning rubber. I slowly pulled around the pick up truck and looked over to make sure the driver was okay. He was. The driver of the Walmart truck climbed out of the cab and walked back to the pick up truck. I moved along.

My heart raced again. Again, I began to pray for safety, for peace, for calm, and for a joyful reunion with their loved ones later in the evening.

I looked down at my dashboard - the warning light was off.

What if that warning light was meant to warn me to get into the slow lane and avoid that accident? What if that warning light was meant to put me in a position to make sure the driver was okay after that accident?
What if I'm not so fortunate next time and the blown tire hits my car and I'm the one who careens from the fast lane onto the shoulder?

Two Fridays in a row, I have seen accidents from the slow lane.
Two Fridays in a row, I prayed for safety for all those involved.
Two Fridays in a row, I gave thanks for my own safety.

All the way home after seeing yesterday's wreck (down here in NASCAR country, car accidents are referred to as "wrecks."), I sang this verse from an old Amy Grant song to myself -

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A wreckless car ran out of gas before it came my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown -
Though I never see with human eyes that hands that lead me home,
I know they're all around me all day and through the night.
When the enemy is closing in, I know sometimes they fight.
To keep my feet from falling, I'll never turn away.
If you're asking what's protecting me, then you're gonna hear me say:
"He's got his angels watching over, every move I make.
Angels watching over me.
He's got his angels watching over me, every step I take.
Angels watching over me."

When I think about the many times my life has been saved - not just these two Fridays in a row, but every day of my life - I have to wonder, "Did God have his angels watching over the people who got into the accident? What about the ones whose kanswer treatment doesn't halt its spread? What about the young woman who is hospitalized for 31 days due to a bad drug side effect? What about the victims of domestic violence and the subsequent public humiliation? What about the woman who loses her husband and a couple of years later loses her only son? What about the 30 year old mother of three little beauties who will undergo a kanswer-induced double mastectomy and reconstruction on Monday morning? What about the child who drowned, the one who is kidnapped, and the parents whose anguish is indescribable? Are there angels watching over them too?"

I believe the angels are even closer to them. Holding them. Offering comfort and peace and courage and strength. Granting them space to grieve, to weep, to scream, to accuse, to ask why. I believe the angels stand guard over and around them while they mourn, while they writhe, while they clench angry fists and wail. I believe the angels hover ever nearer to those whose hearts and lives are shattered by sorrow and loss.

That is certainly what I have prayed for those I know in those situations.
I have prayed those requests for two Fridays in a row.
I will continue to do pray that way for as many Fridays as remain for me -
and every day in between.

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