What follows is a five-part story stemming from just an hour and a half of time spent with God’s people, in God’s house, in response to God’s direction.
I got out of work that August Saturday afternoon and hopped in the car to head south to my parents house, like I have a hundred times before. It was sunny and warm, I had my Driving Mix CD playing nice and loud and I was making great time.
As I drove down a stretch of road I have travelled more times than I can count, my rear view mirror was suddenly filled with a black car riding so close to my bumper, I could only see the tops of the headlights. He had come flying up behind me from out of nowhere. I had just finished passing a slower-moving car in the lane next to me, and there was one more I wanted to pass so I could get out of the fast lane. Without warning, the car behind me was now next to me, intent on cutting between me and the car I was about to pass.
He came back into my lane just a split second too soon, clipping my front bumper just slightly. But it was enough. I lost control of the car, swerving between two lanes. The concrete barrier raced toward me, and a loud bang told me I had hit it. When I opened my eyes, it took a moment for me to realize I wasn’t dead. But something wasn’t right. The sky was angled wrong, and my seatbelt was cutting into my chest and my right hip. The car had flipped and landed on the passenger side. I was stuck, hanging in midair, held in place only by my locked seat belt.
There was blood on my left arm and my knees hurt. My left ear was ringing so badly I couldn’t hear out of it. I looked around the car, trying to figure out what had just happened. Then I wondered how I was going to get out.
It was probably just a few seconds, but it felt like forever before I heard voices outside the car, and then a man looked down at me through my side widow. Then there were two men. Then three. One of them pulled the door open and held it up as I twisted my legs out of the driver’s side, released the seatbelt and dropped onto the passenger side door. I had the presence of mind to grab my phone and my purse then climbed up on the passenger headrest as best I could. The two men reached in, grabbed my arms and pulled me out of the car.
They guided me down the road a bit and I saw smoke, and then a small flame coming from the engine block.
The men put me down on the side of the road as cars continued to fly past. Two women came into view as one of the men jumped to the other side of the barrier so he could hold my head steady, just in case I had a neck or back injury. One of the women was a nurse and immediately began bandaging my arm, then talked to my parents on the phone, assuring them I was alive and directing them to the hospital. The other – the wife of a firefighter who was currently trying to put out the fire with the extinguisher he carried in his car – held my hands and talked to me while two of the men – EMTs, it turns out – checked me for broken bones and asked questions to assess me for brain injuries. She continued to hold my hands and keep me focused on her while the newly arrived ambulance crew put on a neck brace and strapped me to a backboard. A state trooper arrived and I was taken aback by his kindness as he asked questions about what had happened. I remember thanking these seven people over and over again as I was loaded into the ambulance, but to this day, I still wish I knew their names so I could write them proper thank you notes.
At the hospital, after I had been thoroughly x-rayed, scanned, pricked and prodded, I was moved to the Trauma ER. The nurse let my parents come back to see me, but only because I was the only patient there. She told us that if someone else came in, they would have to leave. No one else came in. Not a single other patient came in to the trauma ER at an inner-city hospital on a Saturday night.
A few days later, my parents and I went to the junkyard to see if anything could be salvaged from my car. The clothes I had packed for the weekend were in there. My work badge. My Bible. The book I needed to study for my upcoming exam. Prescription sunglasses I had no money to replace. Just things, but important things.
When we got our first look at the car, we all cried. Tears of fear for what could have been. Tears of shock at how badly damaged the car was. Tears of thankfulness to God for His protection, for sending those seven people, and for keeping the fire at bay long enough for me to get out. The fire breached the cabin, right where I had been hanging just moments earlier.
Over and over again in those few hours of terror, God showed his faithfulness. God granted peace in the midst of chaos. Everywhere we looked, God. His love, His power, His mercy and His grace. His kindness worked through seven strangers. I’m in awe of what He did that day, but really, it’s not all that different from what He does in my life every day. And for that, I am forever thankful.
When was the last time you saw God at work in the midst of chaos?