On Thanksgiving Monday in 2021, I sat around the table with family and friends as we counted the blessings for which we were thankful. When it came my turn to speak, I didn’t have to think long or hard about what I was going to say.
“I’m thankful for my life,” I stated simply, holding back tears. It was something I could have lost just hours earlier.
Nowhere to Go
That Thanksgiving weekend had been full of fun and time spent with loved ones. Sunday after church, my husband, Marcus, and I went out for lunch with a group of friends. We shared laughs and stories, which somehow took us to the topic of car accidents.
“I’ve never been in a car accident before!” I happily shared with the group.
The very next day, we were driving along a two-lane country road on our way to Thanksgiving dinner. It was a perfect sunny day, and we were enjoying the beautiful fall colours as we drove. Traffic was moving well though there were many cars on the road. As we came over the top of a hill, we noticed that traffic was slowing ahead near the bottom, where there was an entrance to a trail.
A large truck was barrelling full speed over the top of the hill. Marcus realized that we were trapped.
Families were gathering to enjoy a Thanksgiving hike together. Marcus slowed down and eventually stopped at the very bottom of the hill.
Just a moment after we stopped, Marcus noticed in his rear-view mirror that a large truck was barrelling full speed over the top of the hill, not noticing the stopped cars ahead. To our left was a steady stream of oncoming traffic; to our right was a metal road barrier. Marcus had nowhere to go to avoid the impending collision.
“Are You OK?”
I couldn’t see the rear-view mirror and only knew that something was wrong when I heard Marcus gasp, his mind having absorbed the situation and realized that we were trapped. I heard the sound of brakes squealing loudly, immediately followed by the sound of impact, deafeningly loud.
The fear we experienced in that moment was very real, but looking back on that day and the days that followed, I am so thankful for the ways God revealed himself to us.
After the shattered glass had finished flying out from our back windshield and our coffee had splattered the ceiling of the car, Marcus turned to me and calmly asked, “Are you OK?” He then immediately got out of the car and repeated those words to the man who’d crashed into us, who was in much worse shape than we were. While my mind was reeling, trying to comprehend what had just happened, Marcus had the presence of mind and soul to be able to jump into action and show kindness when it was needed most. This was God’s strength working through him in a difficult moment.
From Fear to Peace
As we talked about the accident with our family that night, we recognized that God had been with us and had protected us.
The driver of that truck had noticed us in just enough time to slam on his brakes, lessening the impact of the crash. Out of all the possible outcomes, we had been protected and had been able to walk away unharmed. We praised God for His protection and hugged our family extra tightly, giving thanks to Him for the many blessings we’d been given.
In the following weeks, I was nervous getting back on the road. I felt this heightened sense of awareness of how fragile and fleeting our lives really are. The “what-ifs” started creeping in. “What if I get in another accident and don’t make it out?”
But as I processed my fear, I was reminded of the gift of eternal life that is promised to all those who believe in God and accept His Son, Jesus Christ. I started to feel great freedom in the fact that life here on earth is temporary, and that every new day is a gift from God to be used for His glory. My fear turned into peace.
After that sense of peace and gratitude had set in, I was able to recognize that even if that driver hadn’t slammed on his brakes and we hadn’t walked away from that accident so easily, we would still have been all right. We would have been OK because we have faith in God that inspires us to show love freely each day we are given and trust that heaven is waiting for us.
I don’t know how many days God will give me here on earth, but I do know that He used a car accident to teach me to better trust Him, living my life with hands outstretched and a heart full of thanks.
Alexandria Venables is a Salvationist from Toronto where she lives with her husband, Marcus. She is a member of the territorial communications team and is actively involved in The Salvation Army's Yorkminster Citadel corps, divisional youth music groups and Canadian Staff Songsters.
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