Valentine’s Day—the day of love and romance for couples all across the land was the rule of the day. Robyn and I were right in the middle of an annual date. We made a brief visit to one of our favorite places Barnes and Noble to look for a book before making our way to the theatre to see a movie at 7:30 p.m. Before leaving we stopped to get my wife a mocha drink, but there was a long line at the deli, so we decided to stop by Starbucks. We were running late, but there did not appear to be a line at the drive through so we pulled in only to turn the corner and find a car ahead of us to our frustration. I placed the order and checked my watch, I thought to myself, “I think we can make if they will hurry.” Finally the car pulled out and her drink was ready as we pulled up, I paid the barrister as he quipped about the joys of Valentine’s Day and asked if we were on a date. I smiled and nodded as we pulled out into traffic.
It was a dark clear February night as we took the loop around the city heading toward the theatre. Then suddenly out of the darkness everything changed in an instant of time. Unexpectedly through my windshield I witnessed the smoke, and confusion of a serious traffic accident. I saw a man running across the road. A truck was disabled to my left with its front end smashed. Directly in front of me was a small blue car smoking, as I quickly pulled onto the shoulder I passed the car slowly to the sound of glass and plastic breaking under my tires to witness a red Honda Civic smashed head on into the little blue car. Then my attention was drawn to a white sedan turned upside down in the median. In a matter of seconds, I realized we were at ground zero of a major life threatening accident. I pulled over and my wife and I jumped out to assist, but not really knowing what to do. Suddenly a man with a cell phone to his ear called for assistance. He was peering inside the red Honda at a body that was not moving. He cried out that he could not see and that he needed light, so I returned to my car and turned it around so my light revealed the horror of the condition of the young woman unconscious in the car and bleeding. A young nurse joined the man and confirmed she was alive.
Apparently the man on the cell phone was in contact with medical personnel and declared we needed to get her out of the car, and lay her down beside the road. Meanwhile, I could hear the screaming of a young girl trapped in the white sedan upside down in the median. As I turned toward the screams I witnessed a team of volunteers struggling to assist the young mother and father trapped in their car with the cries of their child from the rear. My attention then return to my own personal crisis as I joined a team of three strangers who slowing and carefully removed the young woman from her car paying special attention to her head and neck. We laid her on the grass and I removed my coat to provide a pillow for her bleeding head. The young nurse cared for her as we waited for emergency personnel to arrive. As I looked down the road I could hear the sirens and I could see the red and blue lights were weaving through traffic to the scene of ordered chaos.
As we waited the young man in the blue car holding his injured arm to his side began to recount the story of how in an instant of time chaos had erupted on a dark lonely stretch of highway. Apparently the young woman in the Honda was driving the wrong way on a four way highway. She struck the white sedan and bounced off the car as it flipped to hit the white pick-up. The chain reaction continued unto her car plunged head on into the front end of the blue car. Thanks to the miracle of airbags they were alive, and he stood there holding his arm telling his scary account of his life flashing before his eyes.
Soon the medical personnel arrived and now we were bystanders in the way, so without a word of thanks or notoriety my wife and I climbed back into our car. We turned the car around and joined the slow procession in the grass as we left the scene of the accident heading to the movie we would not see that night, because by the time we arrived at the theatre our minds were too clouded to think of mindless entertainment on the big silver screen. Life was too real.
Sixty seconds…one simple delay in a line at Starbucks kept us from being on a dark highway with a red Honda barreling head on into our path. Just sixty seconds made all the difference in the world in our lives. Who knows how many times in a lifetime one simple choice makes the difference between life and death. Praise the Lord no one died that night on a dark highway in Texas.
Hundreds of years ago as the Israelites ascended the hill going up to the Temple of the LORD they would sing from Psalm 121. The hills around Jerusalem would ring with the sounds of their voices as they declared with joy and great confidence:
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm–
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. Psalms 121:7-8 (NIV)
On Valentine’s Day Robyn and I were vividly reminded how the Lord watches and cares over His children even when they are impatiently waiting in line at Starbucks. I should have known, but rarely do I think about how God is in the details—and every second counts!
P.S. This afternoon I had to repair a flat on my car. I picked up a nail as I drove around the accident scene. You probably would not be surprised how thankful I was to pay the $15.00 for the repair and move on down the highway.