…the grace of God!
Ever have one of those experiences when nothing happens to you and that causes you to think thank You, God?
This is different from a close call. In a close call, something does happen to you. An event almost does you in, but you manage either to dodge out of the way or to survive without permanent injury. This is a close call:
I’m about 21. I’m driving through the cotton fields on a two-lane road, headed from a suburb into downtown Phoenix, there to start my day as a receptionist for a law firm. As usual, I’m flying low: around 50 to 60 mph. Two lanes. Country road. In a new 1967 Ford Fairlane that was a certifiable lemon.
As I’m tooling along listening to the radio (The mornin’ sun is risin’/Like a red rubber ballll…), some guy in a pickup pulls off a dirt side road, right in front of me. I’m gonna hit him. My mother told me to watch out for country boys on side roads! Why didn’t I listen?
I slam on the brakes.
The damn car LEAPS into the air (no exaggeration!) and lands in the middle of the oncoming lane.
And yes, there is an oncoming car in the oncoming lane. The driver looks panicked.
At that moment, everything shifts into slow motion. I seem to have half an hour to think about this and contemplate my choices. I can…
• jerk the car back into my lane. But the guy who pulled out in front of me is now right beside me, driver-side door to passenger-side door. If I move into the right lane, I will hit him. The recoil may push us both into the oncoming car…
• stay where I am and head-on the third driver. Not an option….
• at around 50 mph, pull off onto the left-hand shoulder, a strip of dirt that borders an irrigation canal. This may cause my car to roll and I could find myself upside down in the irrigation ditch. But maybe not…
I choose option c) as the least disastrous. Miraculously, the ground is hard enough to support my car’s laboring tires, and miraculously, the car does not spin out of control. The guy in the oncoming car whistles past me. The guy in the pickup proceeds on down the road.
That is a close call because an element of choice occurred after the event began. You’re not saved just by the grace of God, but by a combination of your own volition and God’s grace.
A true thank-You-God moment may be influenced by choices you made before the event occurs, but your escape has nothing to do with choices you make during and after the event.
Example: One of my clients was an economist who had a career as an international banker. He traveled a lot in his business. One day he was flying into a large South American city, where he was to meet with another banking executive about some high-end business matter. Somewhere along the line, his plane was held up, so they were running several hours late coming to their destination.
As they circled around to come in for a landing, he looked out the window and noticed smoke coming out of a large high-rise. Of interest, but he didn’t think much about it.
Once he got into town, though, he discovered the smoking building housed his guy’s office. The fire had broken out a few hours before. And, like many buildings in many third-world countries, it was inadequately designed for fire safety: it had few or no usable fire escapes. The guy had been trapped in his upper-floor office, and he died.
Now there you have a thank You-God moment. It was pure, raw luck that my client hadn’t been in the office when the fire started: “a few hours before” was right when the two men had scheduled their meeting. Nothing that either person did could have changed the outcome. The only reason my client survived was that by random chance he happened to get on a plane that was delayed.
I always figure I’ve had a thank You-God moment when I come across a major car wreck, because….if I’d been there 15 minutes or half-an-hour earlier, that could’ve been me in one of those cars. Indeed, I thought I was enjoying one such this very morning when I came across a three-block long back-up at the intersection of two of the busiest arterials in the central city.
The cops had shut both roads down about a quarter-mile in each direction from the wreck. People were winding their way through residential neighborhoods in order to get on their way. Luckily, I contrived to turn left out of a tiny residential lane onto Arterial East-West and continue on my way to the veterinarian’s.
As it turns out, this also wasn’t a true tY-G moment, because no one was killed or even hurt seriously. The only reason the cops were making SUCH a BFD about it was that one of their SUVs was involved. Some guy had sideswiped the cop (?? how hard is it to notice a gigantic white tank with blue stripes all around it and a pair of red bubble-gum machines on top???) and caused the police vehicle to roll.
This happened at 7:00 this morning. I left my house at 10:44, so it was about 10:50 or so by the time I reached the scene of the drama. They had that intersection shut down in four directions for almost four hours!
Forgodsake, they clear out fatalities faster than that.
I surely have had plenty of real tY-G moments, when I and my fellow homicidal drivers missed a monstrously fatal disaster by a matter of minutes. Or even seconds.
How about yourself? Got any good thank You-God stories?