I am discontent with “what if.”
I didn’t have time to be scared. In fact, that is the strangest part of it…I never felt scared, even afterward.
I am writing this while recovering from a serious car accident where another car lost control and crossed the center lane into me. I swerved just enough to avoid a head-on crunch. No need to get into all the details as both he and I are fine. Apart from a few bumps and scrapes, and a quick trip to the hospital, no serious injuries.
But I have spent the last days dwelling on the ‘what ifs.’ When I close my eyes, I can see the car coming at me. I can feel my reaction, although I can’t change it. I can hear the annoying blaring of my car horn that just won’t stop. I can remember quick comments from numbers of nameless and even faceless people asking me if I’m hurt. I can feel the icy road on my back as I lay waiting for the ambulance. All of it happened instantly…except it didn’t.
From what people are telling me, it could’ve been worse.
What if I turned the wheel to the left instead of the right….two lanes of oncoming traffic.
What if I was talking on the cell phone (which I wasn’t)…head on collision.
What if my daughter didn’t drop her pencils getting out of the car when I let her off at school 60 seconds earlier…someone else would’ve been hit.
What if I left earlier…I would have hit the ice and careened down the 4-lane hill.
What if I went a different way…I would eventually hear about an accident, but I really wouldn’t pay much attention.
I am tired of reliving the event and the “what ifs.” But I have neglected the biggest what if question…What if I were alone?
What I mean is: what if God weren’t there? Then maybe a what if becomes a what is.
I felt an amazing sense of calm through the whole event and still do…a peace that surpasses my understanding. I guess that’s what it feels like when people are praying for you. In the midst of chaos, peace. That is not normal.
I heard someone whisper a prayer over me while I was lying on the pavement. Someone took my shoes off and gently wiped my feet to get the glass off my feet (hmmm…sounds scriptural). Someone wrapped a blanket around me as I shivered. Someone wiped the blood out of my eyes and mouth.
Funny thing…when I let go, I was held. I was not alone, even when I was alone. Does that make sense?
I’ve noticed that people do a very good job at telling the stories of their lives. This car accident is no different. I’ve told the story over and over, to family, friends, pastors, police, health care workers, insurance agents, tow truck drivers and anyone else who wonders where all the scratches on my face came from. People love to tell their stories.
But Christians are supposed to be different. Christians not only tell the story of their lives, they must tell the story of how God is involved in their story…every time. Neglecting to tell how God is involved in the sunrise we notice, the party we attend, the friend we met, the diagnosis we receive, the time we spend with family, the spouse we married, the insight we discover…or the car accident that could’ve been worse…. means we miss the opportunity to reveal God’s love in the world that is crying out for proof that God still cares. In short, we fail in our mission. Yep, I just said that.
Jesus gave us the mission in Acts 1:8… “be my witnesses.” Therefore we must be able to distinguish how Jesus is involved in the big and small parts of our lives. We must get better at articulating how He takes care of us, how He loves us, how He sits with us, how He speaks to us in the real moments of our lives. What if reflecting on the “what ifs” can reveal how God is active in our story?
In those “what ifs” we should look for reminders from scripture stories and passages. We should look for God’s consistent nature of love, peace, justice, and unselfish grace. We should look for God’s saving and redeeming mission at work. It is these parts–scripture, God’s nature, and God’s mission—that should be at the core of what we wrap our stories around.
We are often great witnesses of the story of the world. We need to work on being witnesses of The Story within the story.
We need to get better. For the sake of the Kingdom. For the sake of the multitude who are desperate for a glimpse of God in the everyday happenings of life. If we can’t show them God in the midst of our stories, then no one will. And we fail.
I am still working on my story. But one thing is clear, I seeing God more clearly in the what ifs.