Driving in pouring rain out of the city in rush hour traffic was no fun! She though surely the cars would slow a bit or at least not tail gate . . . think again. With wind whipping the rain, it slashed across her car so that she could barely see. Finally creeping along in the bumper to bumper traffic she could exit the highway.
Needing to stop for a few minutes, she went to the grocery store to purchase a few items not easily available at home. Walking about the store gave her the chance to relax a bit before the last hour of narrow, two-lane roads winding through the bluffs and hills along the river to the small community in which she lived.
The rain continued to rage around her as she headed back toward home. Lightening flashed and filled the sky with temporary light. She saw cars ahead and behind her in brief moments of clarity before pitch dark engulfed them again.
A few miles from the next town, she was coming upon a swollen creek bed when the tail lights of the cars in front of her swerved in a crazy manner. Lightening filled the air and she saw a huge tree falling across the road. One car slipped under its branches. Another was hit as the tree fell across the road. It filled the road. She had no time to stop . . . and no clear road. The shoulder was narrow, rain-soaked earth leading into the creek. She aimed for the smaller limbs and cried out to God as she hit, bounce, and rolled over the branches of the tree.
Momentarily floating in the air, she had a "Jesus take the wheel" experience before the car bounced its way through the branches and to a halt. Other cars hit the tree and each other, but miraculously missed her. Sitting in the quiet, realization of how bad it could have been washed over her. She survived. God protected her.
Kind police officers helped everyone and began clearing the tree from the road. They even changed her flat tire so that she could "limp" the car on home. Tired and sore, scared and thankful, she fell into her husband's arms of comfort when she got home.
The next day, he got a replacement for the tire, but found another one that needed to be fixed. So she slowly drove the car to a tire shop in a town about forty-five miles away. Explaining what she needed, she left to wander while they fixed and rotated tires.
Her name was paged that they needed her at the shop. Returning, the mechanic was waiting for her. "You have to see this for yourself" he told her. On the floor of the shop lay all of her tires with the "inside" rim showing. There were large knots and bulges on the inside sidewall of all her tires.
"It's a manufacturer's defect" he said. "All of the tires' steel belts are broken. We would have never seen this if we hadn't had to take them off to rotate. They could have caused the tires to blow at any time if you had been driving interstate instead of country roads. You are very lucky. This type of blowout would have caused you to roll the car and probably not survive. I guess it's a good thing you hit that tree."
Luck? Coincidence? No. She walked back to wait while they finished the work on the tires--replacing them all. As she waited, God whispered to her heart, "I was there all the time."
Had she not been on the crowded road she would have been home before the tree fell. Had she not stopped at the store, she would have been past the tree when it fell. Had she shopped longer the tree would have been cleared off the road when she came through. Had she not destroyed a tire her husband would not have test driven the car before they left for vacation the next week. Had he not test driven the car, he would not have found the second bad tire. Had she not gone to the tire shop to get new tires and have them rotated to the front no one would have seen the broken steel belts. Had they not been found, the tires would have blown out while they were traveling on the interstate to their vacation destination. Had they had the blowout, they would have wrecked and could have been severely hurt or killed.
Coincidence? No. God provided for them all. No one was seriously injured when the tree fell. God was with them all the time . . . guiding . . . protecting . . . providing what they didn't even know they needed. She collapsed in tears of gratitude and thanks for God's love and provision.
It is so easy to blame God when a bad thing happens. Sometimes it is because we are on the wrong path. Sometimes is it God's way of protecting us from something worse. No matter the reason, God is always with us.
As we celebrate the season of Thanksgiving lets us lift grateful hearts to God. God is always with us. We are the ones who turn away or choose not to listen.
God of wonder and grace, we thank you for the blessings of our lives. We thank you for what you do for us--both seen and unseen. Our simple words of thanks are all that we have to offer you. May our lives be lived in such a way that they are pleasing to you . . . and may we always listen for your still speaking voice. So be it. Amen.