Friday afternoon August 26th, at three o’clock.
One of those phone calls that everyone dreads: “This is ____.* Your wife was in an accident. They are loading her in an ambulance and taking her to the hospital. Get there as soon as you can!”
Everything changed instantly.
I was reading a book at the time. I threw it down and gathered the basics, went to my truck and headed for the hospital.
Many of you know what you do…the mind goes crazy with anxiety and very unhelpful thoughts pop up in those anxious moments. Thoughts about mortality, thoughts about injury, even thoughts about what life will be like without her. Crazy unhelpful thoughts.
I was lucky. I got a handle on my brain after about eight minutes. I stopped the horrible thoughts and just told myself “pay attention to the road, traffic rules, other drivers and just get to the hospital.”
That is the first thing I did to get some control and that stopped the flow of doomsday thinking.
A second wave of unhelpful thought then appeared. You know thoughts like “If I had only been with her and she had not been alone.” I followed that up with “I wished I had kissed her and told her to be careful and that I loved her as she left.” Believe it or not, we do that a lot at my house but today she was in a hurry and I was distracted when she left and we skipped that part. My son who has lived in large urban areas all his adult life always says goodbye with “I love you and be careful.” Great habit to have.
In the book I have been posting about we have been discussing the role of God in the midst of tragedy and here I was: possibly in the midst of one. On the 18th, I posted about accidents and how they happen and God is not the causal factor. We attribute the cause of the accident to God and that is not fair. On the 22nd, I posted about choices and how we all make choices which lead to bad things happening. God is not making us choose. We do that. It is not His fault that we choose what we do. We have the freedom.
This morning I reflect back on the last few days. My wife did not intentionally cause her car wreck. It was a set of circumstances that were truly accidental. It is amazing how many times I have listened to people who have used the word “accident” to console us about this event.
I also know that she chose to be where she was that day. She had just delivered a small wooden statuette to a Sunday School member who has cancer. This woman has complications with her cancer that none of us would ever want to go through and our whole class is trying to support her in her time of need. My wife chose to go to the woman’s house alone and I chose for her to go alone because I felt that conversation would be better between them if a man was not present. She chose to turn on the road she turned on. She chose to be driving at that time of day.
The list of choices goes on and on…
A couple of things I do know.
She did not choose to be hit on the passenger’s side of her car by two other vehicles.
She did not choose to be in the emergency room that day… but life happens. It happens to all of us and we have to deal with it. Some weather life’s occurrences with whatever belief system they have or maybe they don’t have a belief system at all.
My wife is a Christian.
She knew I was praying from the moment I got the call. When I got to the hospital, I kept praying and I made a few key phone calls to people I knew would be praying for her…you know, people who would stop what they were doing and call upon the Lord to help her.
Great friends, great Christians, powerful people of God.
Did God show up that day?
Of course He did. We were so blessed. She did not suffer cuts or broken bones. Even if the news had been horrible, He would have been there to help us. He was there in the comforting words of two pastors who came to the emergency room to pray with Susan. He was there in the timing of a visit from our son who came on Monday after the wreck on Friday. He is the best medicine for her. We have not seen him since November of 2015 and he is here now, at the best time for her.
Yes, life happens and sometimes life is difficult.
No one wants to have a phone call like I received on August 26th. At that moment, I knew we had lost some things, but as you know, things don’t really matter. The people we love matter.
I won’t write that God caused my wife’s wreck. I won’t write that accidents happen and God is not aware. I don’t believe that. I believe God was there on the scene. He was there in the car with her. He was there in the stranger who held my wife when she was crying and going into shock. He was there in the nice young woman who searched for her telephone and called me. Now God continues to minister to her needs as she recovers.
He cares for His people and I believe His words are true: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” [Hebrews 13:5].