Thursday, August 30, 2007

How Not to Park a Pickup

Until I hear a voice that I know to be God’s, booming out and telling me what to do, I won’t lay claim to having had Divine intervention. This little event, however, brings me the realization that prayer may well have saved my life.

It was the first day heading to our building sites in Tijuana and I was the second vehicle to try to make it up this very steep and dusty dirt road. What I didn’t notice was that the first truck gave up and went around the corner another way, so up I went. It isn't shown well in the picture, but look at the slope the house is built on behind the truck and that is what I was trying to drive up. For a little bit anyway. Then the wheels started to slip so I gassed it more.

Now I consider myself a driver. I’ve been driving fast and hitting apexes since I was 14, I’ve done racing classes in a couple different kinds of karts and hung out with stunt drivers swapping stories of daring do. None of that prepared me for being on a dirt hill sliding backwards with all four wheels locked up as the valley below used gravity to pull me backwards.

So there I was, foot firm on the brake, sliding backwards to the very real possibility of death arriving sooner than expected. Amazingly, the first thought that came to mind was, “Well, at least I’m ready.” It wasn’t too long ago that I didn’t have Christ sitting next to me and that really was my first thought, “At least I’m ready.”

All this went through my mind and I was still sliding backwards. Yep, seatbelt on. Yep, about 60 of my fellow faithful watching this all take place and me just thinking I can’t turn the wheel because the wheels ain’t turning and it won’t do any good. Take my foot off the brake to let the front wheels do their job of swinging the front end around and I’m more likely just to go off all the more quickly. I decide to keep foot on brake and contemplate my life.

Don’t worry, I won’t go into that here.

Suddenly, with a bump a grind and a thump. I’m stopped. Thankful. Breathing again. Walking it off later it was all of about 60 feet that I slid backward with the wheels locked and all that stopped me from pretty sure death was that someone had decided to dig out a piece of the hill so they could park there. Without them having done that I have the sure sense that this could have turned out very differently.

I know many of the folks of our church were praying for all of us while on that trip. It isn’t with light hearts that many moms and dads send their kids across the border to work in the poorest parts of Tijuana. Believe me, they believe in God and pray to Him for our safety. And the prayer partners are rightly called "prayer warriors." But it really made me think in the following couple of days about God being “outside of time.”

Given that God always was, is, and always will be; and that all of eternity is before Him at any moment, I wonder when did he hear those prayers and inspire that wonderful person to dig out that little parking spot so that I, yeah, little me with the prayers of a congregation looking out for me one of many, so that I didn’t die that morning?

And then I realize I may never know. But I smile, thank the unknown person who dug that out, all who pray for us while on mission, and God.


Blogger Christian Democrat said...

An addendum -

When I wrote this piece I hadn't seen the video from the trip. Our church has a "Mission Sunday" to share the experiences of our missionaries with the congregation.

The video included pieces of interviews with youth and leaders alike. One of the youth answered the question of "Where did you see Christ today?" with something like this:

"Oh, I totally saw God today. Rich was about to go off a cliff and God caught him."

and that from a kid I was a bit worried about.

If you want to see the video here it is:

10/13/2007 11:10 AM  

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