Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and have our being… (NKJV)
This is my first devotional writing of 2008. I had intended to get back to writing a couple of days ago, but have just been in sort of a weird, contemplative mood/funk.
It all started two days before New Years when I got an email about some friends I’ve known for over a decade. Earlier that day, their 15 year old son was killed instantly while skiing. Just having fun, on Christmas break, enjoying a wholesome family activity. Hit a tree making a turn… dead.
Four of my seven children are between the ages of 15 and 20, so losing one of them at that age, especially if they were doing something so common and casual, really affected me. It was hard to spend any time that day thinking of anything else other than how I would feel if I got a phone call that one of my teenagers was just having fun and died instantly in a routine accident that occurs thousands of times a year.
Job 12:10 In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? (NKJV)
Two days later, the Lord saved me from certain death in a dramatic and unmistakable event.
It was about half an hour before midnight on New Year’s Eve. I had just dropped off my 16 year old son at a friends house for a chaperoned party and was driving the country highway back to the very small town where we live. The narrow two-lane road has no shoulder and goes up and down small hills, tall enough hills that you lose site of any car up ahead that has crested and started down. As I topped a small hill about 20 yards from our single stop sign on main street (small town!), I happened to glance in my rear view mirror and quite a ways behind me, maybe a quarter to half mile, I saw police lights in the dark. I caught just a glimpse before cresting the hill and losing sight of them.
As I slowed to stop, I thought “well, there’s no one else on the road, so I must have been speeding. He’s either coming to give me a ticket, or going past me on out in the country.” I quickly considered my option to continue straight through the stop sign which led on towards my house, but also meant being on a road with no shoulder, no businesses and no where to pull over if the cop was stopping me. Or, I could turn left, and if pulled over, there was church parking lot right on the corner. If the policeman wasn’t coming for me, then he would probably continue straight because that was the only direction that led to other small towns and houses in the area.
I started to pull forward and go straight, then instantly changed mind in the middle of the intersection and turned left towards the church. Not more than 3 seconds later, TWO cars sped straight through the stop sign at over 100 miles per hour! The first car looked like a white Mustang, driving with no lights, followed closely by a highway patrolman. The drunk driver was later arrested after several police joined in the pursuit and capture.
Now, don’t miss this picture… the two cars blasted through our small town, blew through the main street four-way stop, with houses lined on both sides, and down the narrow, hilly, two lane road at over 100 mph on New Year’s Eve just before midnight.
James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (NKJV)
The reality of the moment was not lost on me, and I immediately recognized that the Lord has saved me from instant death. Had I continued straight which I did 99.9% of the time, and almost did in this instance, I would have been about 20-40 yards down the road going down hill and the neither the “bad guy” or the cop would have ever seen me as they topped the small hill and rocketed through the stop sign. Our cars would have disintegrated into a mass of metal and blood if he would have hit me doing over 100 mph. The policeman was following close enough that he would have either piled on, or had to swerve into a tree or house.
It was a terrifying moment. In a cold sweat, I was left knowing that I had been one glimpse in the rear view mirror, or one left turn, or three seconds away from leaving seven kids and wife fatherless and widowed. If any of those things would have NOT occurred exactly they way they did, you would be reading about my death today, not reading a new message from me.
In the very same moment I realized the Lord had saved me, I thought of my friend’s son who was killed skiing just two days before.
Why would I be celebrating New Year’s with my wife a few minutes later while my friend’s family would be shedding tears at the stroke of midnight over the loss of their boy? Why did I get a new year, and he didn’t? Why does my family get to keep their Dad, and his family gets to lose their son?
I don’t know, and can’t know the answer to questions like that. God has His eternal purpose in all things and the deep mysteries of a sovereign God are no place for mortal man. I’ve been told that my friends are seeing God work in many people’s lives through the death of their son. I look at this new year with renewed enthusiasm and opportunity knowing that God very obviously chose to keep me alive for a reason. He chose to dramatically show me that He was in control and that He cares.
It’s a strange thing to genuinely, beyond doubt, realize that you should be dead, and to come within a breath of death. No doubt it happens to us more often that we are aware of because God is watching over us. When you do experience it, it brings a laser focus to life and eternity.
To have this happen to me right after finding out about the death of our friend’s son, was a strange mix of emotions. Thankfulness, contemplation, fragility, wonder, sadness, adrenaline, mortality, eternity, even anger… all swirling in a pool of deep meditation over the past several days. I really had intended to begin writing new material for SeriousFaith on Wednesday but was so affected by these events I just couldn’t get started. Communicating those events to you seemed to be the only way to start the year writing.
Job 14:2 He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue. (NKJV)
I’m not even sure what I’m specifically trying to teach you today. As a writer, it’s hard not to communicate such a profound set of events. So I just pray the Lord will use this story to get whatever message to you He knows you need today.
Lord God, help us to cherish each day and know that You are in control, no matter what the results. Help us to embrace this new year and spend it glorifying You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?