I woke up feeling jolted. I felt something was very wrong. I was in a middle position, squeezed between friends on either side. The back seat of a Chevy with a lot of horsepower was spinning out of control.
The strange squealing sound of our tires suggested that we were only intermittently in touch with the pavement. The three guys in the front seat, including the driver, were also helpless passengers, waiting for the “big crunch” that would bring this sudden nightmare to a halt.
It was pitch black as we drove along a country road somewhere between Indiana and Kentucky, hoping to get to the Indy 500 race the next morning.
We fell over, landing on our backs in a ditch. There was no crushing crash. We were all piled up inside, with only a few bruises and cuts.
We were “lucky.” Very.
The driver was falling asleep behind the wheel, and he missed a tight turn at high speed. We were high school seniors, who believed ourselves to be immortal until that life-altering moment.
I was recently reminded of that near-tragedy in my life when reading in the news about a similar crash last month that didn’t end so well.
As The Associated Press reported, “Indiana State University announced Sunday that three students died in a single-vehicle accident … five people were in the vehicle when it crashed, including several football players … the crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in Riley, Indiana. The vehicle left the roadway and hit a tree.”
It could just as easily have been us many years ago.
I’ve had many such near-misses in my life, and I’ll bet many of you have, too. But here we are, with another day left.
Are you aware that every minute, hour and day is a gift? You have the permission of God to take every breath, heartbeat, brainwave, and every other movement.
We are contingent beings who can’t exist apart from countless, exquisitely precise variables coming out exactly right. It could have been a large tree in the Indiana field and not a few cornstalks.
We all have an appointment with “our hour.”
In a particularly poignant moment in Jesus’ public ministry, when religious opposition was reaching a crescendo, we read in John 8:20, “These words He (Jesus) spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple area; and no one arrested Him, Because His hour was not yet here.”
My Bible teacher Bill MacDonald used to say, “We are immortal until God calls us home.”
He meant that nothing can stop us from living until the appointed time and, conversely, nothing will save us once we have reached our hour. Our “tickets are punched” in heaven, in advance, and no power on earth can change it.
What then, should we do?
As written in Psalm 90:12, “So, teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
In my days mentoring men at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, we learned that the surest mark of a man who is recovering from addiction is a distinct attitude of gratefulness — no blaming others, no victim mentality, no entitlement.
Gratefulness looks away from itself to others, and particularly to God who has spared us from death countless times so that we would ultimately “present to God a heart of wisdom.”
To some extent, we all have an entitlement attitude. We tend to take things for granted and to some degree believe “the world owes me a living.”
Reality sometimes fails to meet our expectations and we become angry and disappointed. At these times, gratitude is the farthest thing from our minds.
It is then that we should ask, “What Could have happened, but didn’t Think back to the close calls you have had in the past. You can then thank God for allowing us to live another Day… gratefully.
While I was writing this article, two young mothers were playing with their rolling toddlers right next to me. These tiny children were miniature wrecking balls, despite the attentive eyes of their mothers.
Nothing lastingly bad was going to happen on their watch — maybe a few scratches or bruises, but that’s it.
God is just like you and me. He lovingly runs interference so that we can have fun and be safe.
Are You Ready?
Have you ever thanked God that your next heartbeat was not yet? Next time you have a near-miss, will you thank God that it was not “your time,” yet? It will happen one day.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
— D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information, or contact him at [email protected]. For previous columns, click here His opinions are his alone.