It was early fall in Denver. The mile high mountains sometimes create their own weather. A bright sunny morning gave way to afternoon drizzle. A storm front rolled over the continental divide bringing with it a dramatic reduction in temperature. Concerned for my staff I closed the office early sent everyone home. The drizzle changed to freezing rain then ultimately to blowing snow. The roads became skating rinks instead of pavement. I took one last call made a few notes in files before locking up for the night. I quickly called Elaine to let her know I was on my way but might be delayed by the worsening traffic due to the storm. I should not have called.
I almost made it home.
On a two lane stretch of road, with a freezing lake on my right and the double yellow line down the center my little Subaru was in full four wheel drive auguring through the wind and the slick roads fighting for traction, almost home, almost home! I see a pair of headlights coming over the rise in front of me. They are from a beast of a car an old Oldsmobile. Exactly the kind of car a parent buys for his daughter with a newly minted license and no experience. It’s insurance that doesn’t come from a policy. Safety comes from the sheer size and weight. The adolescent girl had never driven in snow or ice before and tonight was a challenge even for native veterans of the rocky mountain roads. The head lights started to move right and left, to and fro like a lighthouse cutting through the thick fog of the intensifying storm. The inexperienced adolescent driver had lost control of her beast swerving first right and then left. She then tried to slow her car down by hitting the brake. I watched this happen like it was in slow motion. I saw her coming down that hill more than a quarter of a mile away. I got off my accelerator pedal to gently ease my little Subaru on to the shoulder of the road trying to slow down. Not wanting to leave the road and ditch into the lake I thought my best course of action was to try to make as much room for her as possible hoping she would miss me.
Her car was now a football field away still skidding I am on the narrow shoulder feeling the gravel under my right side tires icy pavement under those on my left, almost home almost home! In an act of desperation and panic, she makes the very worst possible error flooring the accelerator trying to stop the skid hoping to blast past and miss my car. Her beast smashed into my car head on.
My family sitting down to a belated dinner heard the sirens wail while they ate. The phone call came during dish washing asking them to come to Saint Anthony Hospital. Fighting nausea they climbed into the family Mini-Van heading for the hospital. They drove right past the scene of the crash. The dented beast of the Oldsmobile and the annihilated Subaru with the glass broken out of it the doors open and the remnant of the deployed air bag hanging from the broken steering column. “Hey Mom isn’t that Dad’s car.” Nausea intensified while the car got quiet. No bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven this time. Sometimes we are just left to manage trauma on our own. God is sovereign even in uncontrollable events.
I lost my last two disks in my back, three months of memory and over a year of sound sleep.
God saved me that night, God and Subaru and the people who invented airbag technology. God also rescued my family from lives of safety and security in this temporary world turning them instead toward one much more permanent and a relationship much more lasting. This was my fifth of six near death experiences in my 61 years of life. I am here for a reason. You are now part of that reason. The Kingdom of Heaven is closer than we think.