God's Grace Found in 30 Feet
Have you ever had a near-death experience that changed the trajectory of your life? Maybe you witnessed a near-death experience and you were never quite the same afterward.
A recent anniversary of a tragic day in our history is that for many people. If I asked you where you were on the morning of September 11, 2001, most people can say exactly what they were doing when they found out. For me, I was 8. Usually, my mom would come into our rooms, turn on the lights and sing a song to help wake us up. But this morning, that did not happen. I remember waking up and walking into our living room, searching for mom (and probably food.) I remember seeing my mom sitting on the floor crying. The TV was on, which was strange for a school morning. I remember watching the second tower being hit.
Reading my experience with September 11, 2001, may have triggered memories for you. Many were on their way to work. Many were already at work. You may have lost someone you knew personally. Or you may have mourned with our nation.
This morning, two days after the 18th anniversary, I had an experience that shook me to my core. I was driving to work using side streets because if you live in Orange County, you understand the parking lots that are the 5 Freeway and the 405 Freeway. As I approached an intersection that I had a green light for, I noticed that the cars in the lane next to me had come to a sudden stop. And that is when I saw him. A bicyclist in the crosswalk. He rode out in front of me when I was 30 feet away from the intersection.
As my tires screeched to a stop, I said, "Jesus, please stop this car." I knew that I did not have the physical space to go from 55 MPH to a dead stop in 30 feet. I googled it after I got to work, the average car, with good breaks, will skid approximately 170 before stopping. A car going 55 MPH may need up to 300 feet to stop completely. For football fans, Lambeau field is 360 ft long. According to everything logical, I needed a Packers Football field worth of space to safely stop.
After my car came to a screeching stop, the bicyclist jumped off his bike and started screaming at me. As if I had done something wrong. I was obeying the speed limit. I had the green light. He rode into oncoming traffic and disobeyed state laws.
God's grace in that moment was for both of us. God stopped my car in time to protect his life and mine. The man was riding without a helmet, no protective gear, being hit by a Jeep going 55 MPH, probably would have killed him.
What I am most thankful for was the moments that followed. After he finished yelling, he stepped onto the sidewalk. The car behind me pulled up next to me and said, "You are okay. It is okay. You did a good job." It was at that moment that I realized this interaction could have ended so differently.
My husband works in the building next to me. Luckily, he was already at work. I called him as I pulled into the parking lot and asked him to meet me outside. I broke down. The adrenaline of what happened started to wear off. The fear of what could have happened started to sink in. The overwhelming feeling of grace and God's hand in it hit me.
Aaron's coworker happened to be on the same road as me and had witnessed what happened. He saw the bicyclist ride directly into my path, he saw the miraculous stop. Sometimes, we need someone else to witness how God is moving in our lives and remind us of how God showed up.
I am still shaken up by what happened on my way to work. My mind still goes back to what could have happened. I am left speechless at the miracle of this morning, not just for me but for the man on the bike.
The man broke the law by running a red light. He risked his life crossing a busy street because he was in a hurry, but God protected him. It can be so easy to get caught up in our to-do lists, our schedules that we bulldoze through without much thought to ourselves or others. Still, God is with us. Still, God cares.
When September 11th happened, many of us asked, "God, where are you?" "God, why didn't you stop the planes? Why didn't you protect our country?" I could look at this morning's near accident and say, "God, why did you allow that man to ride into an intersection? Why would you allow me to go through such a traumatic morning?"
Charles Swindoll says, "Nothing touches our lives that has not first passed through the hands of God." I think this is the ultimate statement of faith. We may never know why God allowed 9/11 to happen. I may never know why God stopped my car. In both moments, God is present and with us.
I want to encourage you if you have experienced a life-changing moment, if you have been shaken to your core and you wonder how life can continue, ask God to reveal himself to you. Four times in Genesis 39, the Bible says, "The Lord was with Joseph." He was with me this morning. He is with me now.
The Lord is with you.