Last Friday at noontime, my 17-year-old son set out with our close family friend and my youngest daughter for a lacrosse tournament in Maryland, about a five-hour drive. Twenty minutes later he fell asleep at the wheel — for nearly 10 seconds according to the driver behind him — crossed the opposing lane of traffic, dropped the vehicle off a 10-foot embankment and ripped 30 yards into an empty field before coming to rest, with all three riders badly shaken, but otherwise unharmed.
“You pretty much know God took the wheel for those 10 seconds you were asleep,” my son’s friend stated plainly as we tried to process the scene in front of us. His was the truest expression of what we were seeing.
It was impossible not to mentally animate all the possibilities that didn’t happen: an oncoming car in the opposing lane of traffic, my son awakening a moment earlier and sending the car into oncoming traffic or reflexively hitting the brakes and taking the car backward off the drop, the nearby houses, utility poles, trees and most chillingly, Falls Lake. On my way to the scene, as I searched for their car, it became apparent how little room for error the road offered. This lucky threesome had landed in the only open field for miles in either direction.
Not only that, but my daughter happened to be wearing her seatbelt as she lay asleep in the backseat, preventing her from being thrown from the vehicle. Our friend had tilted his seat back to more comfortably watch his movie, avoiding more severe injury when the airbag deployed, and after some debate they had opted to take the only vehicle we owned that could have sustained that particular type of crash without rolling or being crushed.
My heart overflowed with humble gratitude as we stood in a circle with two kind strangers who offered thanksgiving for God’s goodness in protecting these young lives. Yet even in that moment another thought tugged at my heart: “If this saving act was from God then what does that mean for the kids just like mine who die in similar scenarios every day?”
I’ve always struggled with how Jesus selected the people he would heal, feed or raise from the dead. The scripture writers never imply that all who were in need found wholeness, nor do they suggest any qualification by the people for whom Jesus performed miracles.
In the days that followed the accident God provided some important insights that clarified my vision of the abundant goodness at the heart of this story. Today my Bible reading was from John 9: “True Blindness.” Jesus and his disciples saw a man who had been blind since birth and the disciples asked:
Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?
You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. (MSG)
In a different translation, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
An important corollary to this idea emerged Sunday when the pastor taught on the burning bush. In Exodus 3:2 “…the angel of the LORD appeared to [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet was not consumed.” Moses looked and beheld; he took the time to see what was happening and to recognize it as an act of God. And, “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush.“
Click. The puzzle pieces fit into place, the living Word speaking once again directly to the questions on my heart. Here is what I believe the Lord is teaching me through this experience:
- Yes, what I saw was real. Jesus did “take the wheel” and intervene supernaturally to save these children. I saw and beheld it with my own eyes.
- To the question of why God saved these children and not others? It simply is not about us. God allowed this situation to unfold as it did so that His glory might be displayed. He saves some so that all might see, believe and be saved.
- Our only response to such a brilliant display is to follow the example of Moses and worship Him.
As a result, I now feel free to joyfully and boldly share this wonderful story of God’s goodness, beginning here and now.
Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Psalm 66:16