Yesterday I missed being crunched in the middle of this sandwich of cars by ten seconds. I was at the front of the line waiting to turn left when the pile-up happened. I glanced into my rearview mirror before making my turn and couldn’t quite comprehend what I was seeing — a car perched almost vertically atop another. The airbag in the blue car did not engage and although he was able to climb out of it, the driver was extremely disoriented. He kept asking where he was and wondering where he had been heading. I convinced him to hand me his cell phone because his incoherent rambling was surely terrifying his wife on the other end. I explained to her what had happened as paramedics loaded him into the EMS unit. After examining him, the paramedic shouted to his partner that they needed to go — immediately.
Though I wasn’t involved in the accident myself, I realized after I got home that I was feeling a bit shaken by the ordeal. In moments like that, one gets a clear view of how fleeting life is and how quickly it can end. I don’t worry about that — as a Christian, I’m sure that the moment I die I will be “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). But the accident reminded me how seldom I’m thankful for God’s mercies that are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Obviously, I’m very thankful that I wasn’t hurt in the accident. And I’m thankful my son wasn’t injured when his car slid off the road in the snowstorm on Tuesday. And I’m thankful that a dear friend left work to help the coatless boys who had also managed to lock the keys in the car.
But beyond that, I take a lot for granted. Breathing, for example. When I stop to contemplate that my lungs inflate and deflate and do their oxygenating business without me ever having to consciously think about it, I am speechless. They just go in and out and in and out day after day after day, despite the fact that I barely ever think about my breathing. By decree of the God who knows the number of hairs on my head I will draw 17,280 breaths today, even though I rarely ever thank Him for his goodness.
And my hands. I’m staring at them now as I type and I consider my fine motor skills. I can feel my yellow lab’s smooth fur when he puts his head on my lap. They were stiff and freezing at the scene of the accident as the blood vessels constricted so that blood (and oxygen) could be diverted away from my extremities to my vital organs to keep my body alive in case I was stranded out in the frigid weather for an extended period of time. Awesome (awe·some – adjective: causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe).
I think about my sons, those two precious little boys that I rocked and changed and cuddled just a few minutes ago. At least it seems like it was a few minutes ago. Somehow, they’ve grown into these big, hairy men celebrating No Shave November. Somehow, they survived their childhood with imperfect parents and, by God’s grace, avoided most of the mistakes we made when we were their age. What a miracle to watch them growing in their faith, despite the frailties of their parents.