Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Things I've learned #2

So much for new series...I haven't lost my desire to write, nor have I failed to learn new things. In fact, I have been learning so much much that I have hardly had time to catch my breath.

Finding the time to write about what I am learning is the greatest challenge. Or perhaps knowing where to begin.

But tonight, exhausted as I am, I was given a beginning point that I cannot ignore.

I had worked a very long and busy day today, seeing patients almost continuously for 10 hours. I had perhaps 30 minutes of time free to try to eat something and make trips to the bathroom. I was truly worn out as I got in my car to drive home.

However, I knew that my last patient of the day was even more exhausted than I was due to severe sleep deprivation. As I was began the trip home, I prayed that she would make it home safely - and then added a prayer for my own safe travel as well.

Traffic was fairly light on I-77 North because of the late hour but I kept my eyes on the road. Suddenly, just ahead of me and rapidly approaching, were two cars stopped on the freeway. One was at an angle, as though it had just skidded to a halt to avoid hitting the one in front of it.

I braked immediately but, given my speed of 60 mph, it seemed impossible that I could stop in time. There was no time to even consider a lane change - it was just there in front of me now. As I was braking, I waited to hear the sound of crunching metal, thinking to myself, "I'm going to be in a car accident..."

But there was no crunching metal. My car came to a dead stop, literally inches away from the nearest of the two motionless cars. We were so close that I could not see any distance between our vehicles from the driver's seat. Apparently no one was hit or hurt - there was some debris on the road that may have caused the first car to brake - and the two cars just pulled away.

As I resumed my drive, I said thank you. Thank you to God, to all the angels and saints who were at my side through this experience.

I am reminded that it is always much easier to be aware of and grateful for the presence of the holy when the outcome is a happy one. Am I imagining that those drivers whose cars collide failed to pray, or that God chose to protect me but not them?

Not at all. Although I am very grateful that I was spared injury or death, as I look back the true gift was something else all together. In those moments where I saw the collision as inevitable, there was a peacefulness. There was a bit of natural adrenaline flow, of course, but I wasn't terrified.

It was as though I was noting that I was going to be in a car accident and, well...we'll wait and see what happens next...surely my car will be damaged, quite possibly I will be injured, but ultimately it will be okay.

My mind only had time to process that I needed to brake, do it and then watch the results. As fast as it happened, this brief moment in time was also long and sweet. How can this be?

Surely the scientists would have another explanation for it, such as that I was unnaturally calm because my brain had not had time to truly process the danger. And this may be so. But I also feel quite certain that this moment was so beautifully sweet because I was resting in the hands of God.

It is not as though I were praying during these crucial seconds - there was no time for that. And I believe that if the cars had collided, I still would have been safe in God's hands. And I am in God's hands at this very moment - as are you.

The gift is that now I truly know it. Whatever happens, however I feel, whoever or whatever hurts me, I am in His hands, ever safe, ever loved.

To Him be glory through all eternity.