I found myself northbound in the left lane of I-75 in Cincinnati Ohio one rainy morning during the rush hour. A southbound car in the left lane was suddenly struck from the rear by a box truck so powerfully that the car catapulted over the concrete barrier between the lanes. The vehicle came to rest in the northbound, left lane and slowly began to drift toward me, apparently by itself.
There was almost no time at all to figure out where I was to go, and stopping in time was out of the question. I quickly put on my right turn signal and began to edge over into the center lane. I didn’t need the entire lane but I absolutely needed about a third of it. I made it around the crashed vehicle and as I passed it, I looked back at the vehicle, and in a second, looked into the face of a woman whose eyes were wide open but empty. I had seen two other accidents where cars were hit by large trucks from behind so quickly and so violently that the drivers died with their eyes wide open. I was pretty certain that was what I was looking at.
I couldn’t stop to render any assistance without becoming a larger part of the problem so I didn’t stop. Others were already stopping so I continued on to my next delivery; but I can assure you, I saw those empty eyes for a long time afterwards. A tragic and unforgettable morning. I often wondered what she was thinking about 10 seconds before her life ended.
That’s the mystery of life and death. While I am aware that death will eventually come to everyone, how it comes often just overwhelms my mind. The circumstances that end a person’s life are often inconceivable and make my brain hurt. Why this person and not that person? How huge a couple more seconds on either side of the event can affect the outcome. Why this accident, why this illness, why here, why now? There are of course, no answers to these questions this side of heaven.
Life ... and Death
What I do know for certain is, as an old Nationwide Insurance commercial used to say, “Life comes at you fast.” Well, so does death. If you have spent enough time on the road, you know this – You have been an eye witness.
The Bible doesn’t shy away from the topic of death. In fact, it constantly reinforces its certainty.
“You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live and we are not given a minute longer.” Job 14:5
It’s as though God wants us to live under the shadow of certain death. Why would He want that? Possibly so that we will be certain to live our only life with great intentionality.
“Teach us to number our days that we might present to You a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
In other words, we as Christians are to understand that our death could come at any time so every choice we make concerning how we spend our time must be considered a “Kingdom” choice. We are either fulfilling our God-given mission every day or we are squandering whatever time we might have.
I think we mostly believe we have an abundance of time left, so there’s no rush.
The Bible clearly indicates otherwise.
A Matter of Days.
On another day, I was eastbound on I-44 in Missouri. I was on a mild downhill stretch of highway where there was a large grassy median – probably 20 yards wide. I noticed, on the other side of the highway headed west, a small dark colored pick-up truck passing a tractor trailer. The tractor trailer suddenly began to pull into the left lane oblivious to the fact that the space was already occupied.
The pick-up driver swerved into the median and I began to calculate my options. I was praying the driver would be able to steer the small truck to simply stay in the median but that didn’t happen.
It appeared the truck would emerge from the median into oncoming traffic still traveling at full speed. I checked my speed and the oncoming speed of the out-of-control vehicle to see if or where we might meet. Should I accelerate to hopefully avoid a collision with the small truck or should I slow down?
It was now obvious that the pick-up was going to completely traverse the median and come out into oncoming traffic. As I continued my speed and direction it appeared we were on a collision course. As the small truck approached me, I floored my truck to try to get past the space where we would meet. The little truck narrowly missed hitting the end of my trailer, and ran head-on into the car behind me.
By now I was hard on the brakes so I could stop to help. The left front wheel of the pick-up rode up over the left side of the hood of the car and now on two wheels, headed back into the median where it rolled over and landed on its side. By the time I got stopped and out of my truck a young lady sprang up out of the window of the pick-up and managed to get out.
I ran to the car which had five people inside. The front of the car was flattened and the windshield was completely shattered. Unbelievably, everyone in both vehicles was fine. Shaken up like crazy, but no one would go to the hospital that day! The people in the car were believers and we prayed together before we parted ways. I got a Christmas card for several years from the young lady in the truck.
According to Hebrews 9:27, each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment. That’s the reality that awaits each of us – an appointed day – but for seven of us thankful drivers, it wouldn’t be that day.
We will however, each have that day – so the question for us is, how are we living? Is there daily intentionality to live into our God-given mission? Each day is a precious gift from God. My experiences have challenged me to live each day more thoughtfully and with gratitude, how about you?
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