I was just cruising down the highway, nearing closer to the exit that led to home. I sat back, relaxed in my silver sedan, as I began to merge into the right lane mindlessly, as I had done countless times before. It seemed that this lane-change would be no different from past times but, oh, how wrong I would be in a matter of seconds. Mid-merge, compromised in two adjacent lanes, my car coasted at a comfortable sixty miles-per-hour. And just like that, a truck appeared in my peripheral vision. It was inches away from me; most would say too close for comfort. I knew at that moment, it was too late to swerve out of the way. In that moment, I knew I would crash. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I slammed on my brakes, attempting to dodge the truck that I knew I’d collide with momentarily, and at least try to avoid the inevitable mess that was just before me. I lost control of my car as the brakes took over, trying their best to do their job, but failing miserably. All I could do was hold my breath and brace for impact. The abrupt and unforgiving sound of grating metal against metal (the worst noise I think I have ever known) erupted, accompanied with a sudden jolt that knocked me around like a helpless rag doll.
How crazy is it for something that extreme to happen so quickly? I remember driving over to the shoulder of the road with my hazard lights on, and just thinking, Wow, God is so good. I walked away from my first car accident free from injury and alive, as did the other person involved in the wreck, but there was something more to this experience that revealed God’s love to me yesterday. There was a strange sense of peace that overwhelmed me; fear and worry seemed to be so distant in the moments following the crash. A word came to mind and echoed persistently in my head – meaningless.
My car. Meaningless. My finances. Meaningless. My life. Essentially meaningless. What I mean by that before you raise your eyebrow and question my sanity is this: this world is temporary, and in an odd way, that comforted me. God transformed my worry-filled worldly view to that of an eternal perspective. My car accident reminded me that all of this is fleeting. With that in mind, I was encouraged, reminded of the hope for salvation, with another earthly thing being taken away from me. Thinking about the failed short-term things reminded me of the everlasting – God’s love and perfect will.
In Ecclesiastes, there is a common theme that everything on Earth is arbitrary. In Chapter One, it captures the general idea of the whole book:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
What do I gain from having a car? What do I gain from living life the way I want to? What do I gain from following my own desires? What do I gain from toil or hard work if it isn’t for the Lord? Nothing. So what is meaningful?
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
This is the purpose that we can find in the day-to-day things of this life. Although youth, riches, wisdom, toil, and pleasures are meaningless, there is something with a bigger purpose. Our eternal meaning, our eternal purpose to fulfill the will of God, is the goal. The will of God is for us to be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7), to endure until the end, and abide in Him. We don’t need any earthly things to do that. In fact, they are more distracting than beneficial a lot of times, all a blink of an eye. If our minds are focused on Heaven and not on Earth, peace that surpasses all understanding overtakes us. That brings me to my next point…
Do Not Worry
On top of everything being utterly meaningless in the eternal-term of things, I found that I also felt at peace when I crashed because worrying was meaningless, as well. As I sat in the freeway, shocked at what had happened, my immediate response was to start panicking and concocting negative scenarios in my head. God brought my mind to Matthew 6:25-34 in those moments, though, and put everything in perspective for me.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Worrying happens when there is nothing that can be done to change a situation, but the thought is entertained anyways. Therefore, power is surrendered to fear instead of God. Seeking God’s kingdom (his reign and lordship in our life) directly combats worry, though. So, if anxiety and a concern gone haywire accomplishes nothing, it is futile. When worry is out of the picture, it leaves room for a desperate faith and allows us to turn to the only constant in life. God.
God is Good
God is always good. It is not conditional, it is not fluctuating or depending on your actions or deeds. So if this is true, how can I look at a car accident as God’s punishment to me? That would directly defile the very nature of God himself, and I would be believing a lie. Instead of walking away, angry at the demise of my car, blaming God for letting this happen to me, I chose to view the circumstance in a different light.
God is good. Maybe this car accident came from him, maybe it didn’t, I don’t want to claim I know that or not. Regardless of what happened to me yesterday and what will happen to me in the future, God still works everything for the good of those who love him.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
How can I be angry or upset or worried when God is using undesirable and inconvenient situations to reveal his love and ultimate will for my life? How can I focus on the bad when he is reminding me of something better than this world and the things it has to offer? How can I betray my faith in God when he is using trials to sanctify me and bring me closer to him? I can only thank him continually for his grace in showing me truth and goodness amidst a trying time such as this. My wreck only personifies this earthly life and its charms, fleeting and temporary, but God never fades. His love endures forever.