I sat in the back of the car texting my husband about our travels that day. Suddenly, we experienced yet another brush with death. Our car came within inches of having the entire left side (the side I was on) shorn by a large truck. My friends in the front seat continued their ongoing murmur of bickering about driving skills and directions. My next text to my husband went something like this:
Me: I realized I might die today and I’m ok with that.
My Husband: What??
Me: Ya, we almost just died a few times today but somehow I’m ok with it.
When I tell my friends about this moment they think I’m being funny and exaggerating. One friend then inquired, “but weren’t you terrified and angry?” I said, “No, really I was at peace.”
My reaction to our death-defying adventure that day reminded me of these few verses in Pastor John Newton’s famous hymn, “Amazing Grace.”
"Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; His grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home."
I’ll tell you friends, my reaction that day was a first for me. Neither the near miss or the bickering could take away the peace I was experiencing. I saw the bickering as my friends’ natural way of communicating with each other over their 60 years of loving marriage. Somehow it worked for them. And as for that little death thingy? I realized I had zero control over the situation. No amount of my yelling about my friend’s driving, yelling at the other driver, fretting , crying or whatever would change the situation. We were in the middle of nowhere so I couldn’t even demand we pull over and let me out.
Instead, I sat back and did the only things I could do: pray and worship. I didn’t beg God to save me. I told Him I trusted Him. If He had more things for me to do here on Earth then I would do them. I watched as beautiful scenery sped by and I thanked Him for His glorious creation. I thanked Him for my sweet little family whom I love and I know loves me.
I tell this story because this hasn’t always been me. I didn’t even realize it could be me until that very moment. Until I was tested by the Lord. Let’s just say I’m a really talented “backseat driver.” Or as my husband can attest, a well-practiced jump seat boss. The Holy Spirit and I have worked diligently on this topic. With each foray into my husband searching for parking places, driving past our freeway exits or taking different, less efficient routes for errands, the Holy Spirit has set on my right shoulder prodding me into silence.
It’s my desires of the flesh – pride and anger — that get me into so much trouble during these times. I know best. And if you don’t take my advice, it’s a punishable offence. But I’m heartened to know I’m probably the only one with this problem, correct?
Joy and patience are far above our strength…We must persevere in prayer that He may not permit our hearts to faint…Prayer and perseverance are necessary in our daily conflicts. The best remedy to the weariness is diligence in prayer.John Calvin
When I realized I could not, by my own doing, take on this task of peacefulness while not in the driver’s seat I turned to God in prayer. It’s He that gives me the reminders. It’s He that tugs at my mind and heart. It’s by the Holy Spirit’s strength that not only does my mouth stay shut (mostly) but my mind turns to something else. And lo and behold, we still arrive at our destination. We may walk a bit father but we still get there! While I still struggle with this sin our Saturday errand trips have become more peaceful ventures.
This training each week led me to that moment in the back of my friends’ car. To my possible “meeting my Maker” moment. Not only did I have peace but also joy in knowing I have the love of the Lord on my side whether I’m here for another day or two or not. And I had love for my friends. They had taken the day to share an adventure with me, to share their time with me. And what an adventure it was!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" Matthew 6:25-27
I know I can’t, by worry or fear or anger, add a single hour to my life. I do know that with prayer and worship He will make my life more peaceful and beautiful. And for that I am forever grateful. Peace be with you my friends.