|For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.Ecclesiastes 9:12
Recent events have forced me to see how frail I am, and what a miracle it is to be alive and to know and love God! I have known those things before, but such knowledge is elusive, I keep forgetting them, and slipping back into the illusion that all my current blessings are certain to continue without any interruption.
I had just returned from what I considered to be a very successful trip to New Zealand and Australia, teaching and preaching the Word of God, edifying God’s flock, and simply loving people in the name of Jesus. My church, Believers in Grace Fellowship is happy to send me (and others) all over the world to do this, because they heartily believe the Word of God and will pay any price to forward it.
Upon my return ,I found that our beautiful little meeting place had been broken into, and my office door which was locked, was kicked open. Nothing was taken, thank God, but it was unnerving to see the place of worship, prayer, study and fellowship so profaned. We felt violated. Not even Cedar Rapids ,Iowa is exempt from the spirit of lawlessness sweeping the world.
Later that week we were blessed to have with us the singer Paul Clark, a friend and fellow minister who comes periodically to edify our church. What a blessing He and his lovely mother were to us! He sang two songs in the morning,gave a testimony and then was to give a worship concert that evening.
But between the morning service and the evening one, my wife thought to take advantage of a little gift I had bought for her, an appointment at a pedicurist. But as she sat at the table having her nails done, a car smashed through the front of the store,forcing my wife to roll out-of-the-way, crawling on her hands and knees to evade the out of control vehicle. A new driver evidently hit the accelerator instead of the brake!
My wife and I were praising God that evening for sparing her life! We were also pinching ourselves, as Paul ministered to a small group of us in song. We tried to pack the place but people were too busy. They had no idea what they were missing. That evening was one of those surreal times, when the presence of the Holy Spirit was so obvious, so healing and reassuring. We really didn’t want it to end.
The next evening, I went to see my grand daughters play volley ball, in a little Christian School out about thirty miles from my home. The road I took was a little two lane highway, which at one end, was reduced to one lane, because of road construction. The volleyball games just went on and on, I was there from five to ten o’clock pm waiting for the games to end.
Finally, I took my two sons home, though the games weren’t over. I got to the part of the country highway that had only one lane open, which was only one lane for about ten yards, and then opened up into a two lane country road. But as I realized later, I didn’t change back into my proper lane, it didn’t even occur to me to do so!
There I was, driving down a country road on a moonless autumn night. There are no lights other than my car and I am oblivious to the fact that I hadn’t changed lanes. The road is curvy and undulating, and I am telling my sons, “keep an eye out for deer, for they are active”.
All of the sudden there are headlights in front of me, and it is too late for me to do anything but swerve as I am thinking,”That guy is in my lane! What’s going on here?”, But He swerved also and at forty miles an hour we smashed into each other, corner to corner.
My sons are groaning and I am in pain, as we struggle to exit my ruined van as quickly as possible. The other driver is furious, screaming expletives at me, asking me what I was doing in his lane! That was when I realized with horror indeed that I had been in the wrong lane the whole time.
Thank God the other driver was okay, there was nothing wrong with him except a bad scare and probably some achy muscles. Glory to God my sons also, other than some aches in their muscles are alright. Finally, yes, I praise the merciful God that other than a bruise that runs the path of my seatbelt, I am healthy.
But I am hurting in more ways than in my muscles. I can’t believe that I actually did that! My folly almost cost my sons, and someone else’s son their life! How could I have been so negligent? Finally, I could have died, and I don’t want to die that way! My concept of myself as a basically conscientious driver (I had never caused an accident before), is shattered. What was I thinking?
My only comfort is when I consider the sovereignty of God. He could have allowed the accident to be fatal to all or any of us, (a burden I don’t think I could bear). How many other times has my folly been totally countered by Him who works all things for the good of those who love Him?
It does remind me that I so need Him. Who would think that even going to a pedicure is a dangerous proposition? Truly our life is but a vapor! How I need my beautiful wife, my fellow, my best friend! How would I fare without her help, the one God gave me to help me?
And no day or night is just a typical day like any other. All of the time we are just one stupid decision from death, that’s how much we need God. We owe our next breath to God. The truth is, every day is a gift of Love, an opportunity to serve God, who knows how many are left?
But this experience in a strange way, tells me how good God is. God saved me from unbearable sorrow, I could be contemplating the funeral of one of my kids, or someone else’s! My wife could have been killed! We haven’t survived by our own wits or goodness, God has preserved us by His mercy!
You know the scripture that says, we ought to say “If the Lord wills we should do this and that”? It is not teaching us a mere verbal formula, it is challenging a special brand of worldliness, a presumption that almost assumes autonomy. I think I am beginning to see what He is saying, about our ongoing desperate need for God.
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.(James 4:13-16)