So…my daughter totaled the car last week. It wasn’t her fault; the liability clearly fell on the deer that decided to jaywalk across the country road on which she was driving instead of carefully crossing in a marked “Deer Crossing” zone. It was a hit and run, also, cause that deer didn’t stay on the scene of the wreck but darted away instead. (Although we don’t think he got very far, judging by the impact.)
There were a lot of blessings surrounding this wreck. My daughter wasn’t hurt and was remarkably calm when she called to tell me what had happened. There was a pretty steep embankment on her side of the road and if she had tried to swerve to miss the deer she might have been hurt very badly. She was able to safely get the car off the road even though the impact had caused the throttle to stick and the car sounded like it was ready to blow up. So we could already see God’s protection over her in the situation.
But in spite of this, I have to admit that I was stressing out. What was I going to do with this car that was now stranded on the side of the road on a Saturday night? Do I get it towed to my mechanic who wouldn’t be open until Monday morning? Was there any way the car would be worth fixing anyway? What tow company do I call? Do I need to call the highway patrol? I really didn’t know what the right thing to do was. As it happened, I tried to call for a tow truck and couldn’t get one to come out on a Saturday night without charging me an outrageous amount of money. So eventually I gave up and went home, leaving the car to fend for itself on the side of the road.
But the stress didn’t stop there – the car was constantly on my mind and the questions kept churning around in my brain. What was the right thing to do here? When I get in this mode, the devil starts working on me as well, filling me with all kinds of additional questions. Shouldn’t I already know what to do in this situation? All those “other” guys seem to always know how to handle these situations, so why don’t I? Isn’t it a sin to stress out and worry? If I really trusted God, I would always be full of “peace” and nothing would ever shake me, right? So isn’t this all just a great big indication that I’m not a good Christian and my faith stinks? My wife and I call this progression of thinking the “spiral of doom,” and I’m great at it.
But in John 12:27, Jesus tells his disciples that he is stressed out about what lies ahead of him. “Now is my soul troubled,” Jesus says, “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.'” In John 13:21, Jesus considers the fact that one of his friends is about to betray him and it says that he “was troubled in his spirit.” Back in John 11 at the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus is “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” when he sees Mary and the crowd weeping and it moves him to tears also. Now, Jesus was dealing with much, much heavier stuff than I face, but if the man who committed no sin was apprehensive, stressed, or troubled from time to time, then maybe it’s okay for me not to be completely confident 100% of the time either.
The key is not setting up your tent in the place where you are stressed and troubled. Don’t live there. Start reminding yourself of the promises of God even when it’s hard to believe them and keep doing it until you can move forward in faith that he is still in control and say, “Father, glorify your name” in whatever is going to happen and in how these things that you’re fretting over are going to get resolved. Now, maybe that sounds silly when we are talking about a wrecked car. But when that terrible medical news rolls in or you lose your job or your marriage is crumbling – sometimes that’s the place that you have to start so that you can take those next few steps. “My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) That’s the destination, but it’s okay if it takes a little time to get there.
Epilogue: As it turns out, God was preventing me from getting a tow because he already had something else worked out. A buddy of mine who does body work on the side contacted me the next day and wanted to know if he could have the car in exchange for doing some work on my wife’s car that we had been talking about before this accident happened. The car in question is a 2004 Honda CRV that had about 225000 miles on it. I met him the next day and we loaded the car on his trailer. Problem solved and I didn’t have to pay a tow bill. God is good.