By Janette Haak
“I’m OK, but I hit a guardrail and spun out.” That was the phone call I received from Joel on Sat night—at 8:17 to be exact. My heart was pounding as I rushed out the door to find my baby cub … mama bear was on her way!
The roads were slick that night and later I would hear of many accidents happening all over town, including a fatality. The fact was, Joel was OK. Time will tell about the car, but we’re thinking it will be OK soon also. I’m not writing to tell you about the accident, but about what God showed me that night and the next day.
“I’m OK, but I hit a guardrail and spun out.”
I have to back up just a bit and tell you how Joel’s spin-out occurred. He was driving south on US-23 just past Geddes, around an area where there is a bend. As he turned the bend driving in the left lane, there was a car parallel to the road in his lane. He would T-bone the other car if he did not react quickly.
There wasn’t any traffic in the right lane, so Joel was able to swerve, but lost control and went head on into the guard rail.
He spun around and hit the rear bumper, spinning around fully one more time, ending up in the same lane and same position as the other driver, perpendicular to oncoming traffic. They were both sitting ducks. Or were they …?
A fire truck coming back from a call saw the accidents and was there immediately to close off the lane of traffic.
So … back to the phone call and me rushing in backed-up-single-lane traffic trying to get to my son. The claws were out; I need to get to my boy. He said he was OK, but my heart was pounding. I needed to see him.
After sitting in his car in the freezing cold, we decided to go sit in the fire truck and see what was taking so long for the state trooper to arrive. They said that our fender bender had caused a three-car pile up just north of us at the Geddes Road exit. The state trooper and fire department were stuck finishing up with that.
I learned that the firefighters who were patiently waiting with us were waiting for the Ann Arbor fire department to come and relieve them since this was not their jurisdiction, they just happened to be in the area. (Coincidence …? I think not!)
Coincidence …? I think not!
Soon, the young man in the other car came into the fire truck with us. I was happy for him to come out of the cold also, but if I’m being perfectly honest, I was a little upset with him for spinning out and causing Joel to spin out, too.
I have to make one disclaimer and say that growing up in Chicago I was taught that you never say anything to the other driver if you get in an accident. You don’t want them to use something against you. The tension for me was very strong. Later, I would be convicted by the Lord for this …
After waiting for over two hours, the state police showed up to take reports and talk to us. The tow trucks came and so the police said we should meet in a parking lot up the road to finish our report.
We were trying to figure out where to park the car when Joel mentioned that maybe we should park it in the St. Luke parking lot until we could figure out what we were going to do.
Now my story gets interesting … Zak, (the other boy = enemy) says, “You go to St. Luke? I attend ULC; I’m a Concordia Student.”
We chatted about this for awhile and I began to feel incredibly convicted: I had wasted time that I could have been chatting with this fine young man.
That evening and the next day, the Lord was really working on my heart and showing me my sin. I am not proud of what happened, but wanted to tell you so that maybe you can learn from me. I hope to not be in the same situation again!
I felt convicted that I was not more gracious to Zak. I then realized what an opportunity I would have missed if Zak had NOT been a Christian. I could have showed grace and love, instead of the cold awkward environment that I felt.
The Lord was really working on my heart.
Later, Joel and I talked about all the ways God protected the two of them during the evening. All I could see were the negative things.
Joel and I talked about how wonderful everyone was who we encountered, the patient firefighters in the very warm truck, the state trooper who rejoiced with us when we found out that we went to the same church, and the tow truck driver who patiently waited while we figured out where to tow the car.
The only person who was not very nice was me. It is so much easier to know in theory what I need to do, and then in the stressful situation, I blow it. I am the kind of person who deals with stress at the moment and later as I mull it over in my head. I fall apart and God reveals himself to me.
I repent of my ungracious attitude to a stranger. I pray that Zak is OK. I pray that next time, God will allow me to be a better witness to His unconditional love and welcome.
Some lessons are learned the hard way, and I just pray that I never have to do this again!