“Tony, that car is getting closer, ” said my travel companion to me. “Tony, Tony, TONY!” I swerve to miss the cars bumper as it catapults off its owner and lands about ten feet in front of the car I am directing on the pavement I am meant to drive across.
I stop, my travel companion gets out. The woman driving the car is ok. She had lost control and slammed into the barrier dividing the lanes going east from the lanes going west. Her bumper had made it through though. Some other cars stop as well and we wait for the authorities to arrive. After a couple minutes the scene has calmed, the lady is ok and the situation is now under control. We climb back into our vehicle and continue on our way to Portsmouth.
Welcome to the United Kingdom.
This all took place yesterday, two hours after we landed in London following an eight hour flight across the pond. The pavement we were following was taking us down our beginning route towards our first engagement for this packed week in the UK.
As I continued driving I began reflecting on how fast things can change – how quickly my body can morph from healthy and functioning to frail and barely hanging on. The line of mortality simply is not very thick.
The more I drove the more I pondered. How fortunate was I that it was not me in that car accident. How blessed am I that the bumper landed a couple feet in front of my car rather than on the car itself. Wow. . .how lucky!
The day continued, I spoke as scheduled at the proper venue and then retired to the hotel for the night.
As is custom for me I close the night with a short reading from the Sermon on the Mount contained in Matthew 5-8. Throughout my life I have found that a short reading from the Sermon on the Mount has kept me grounded and kept me aware of the message that I am out on the road speaking and proclaiming, the message that is central to Red Letter Christianity.
Last nights reading happened to be Matthew 5:43-48. For those of you familiar with that passage you can guess which passage from within jumped out to me: v.45, “He [God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
My mind immediately retreated to earlier in the day. I was not spared from the car accident because I was blessed or holy or found extreme favor in God’s eyes. No, I was spared from the accident because I just so happened not to be in that place at that time. We found out right before leaving the accident that the lady who lost control and crashed did so because she hit a spot of ice.
Not because she was a sinner or God was out to get her.
But because there was ice and she was in a car with tires. And when it is icy sometimes tires slide and sometimes cars lose control. Sometimes that stuff just happens.
In that situation, I wasn’t blessed and the lady wasn’t cursed. In that situation something difficult, something out of schedule, something awful happened. And in the days and weeks to come, as that woman, and other people just like her, work to rebuild what has been taken from them in an instant I can guarantee that God will be there to assist, to comfort, and to direct.
God will be there through the hands and feet of friends and family. God will be there through the restoration.
For me it is realizing that throughout my life good and bad will happen to all folks. I am foolish to believe that at any point God would spare me because of my faith. In fact, when compared to situations like that in the book of Job, it seems quite the opposite.
The rain will always fall. . .always.