Southbound Miracle

Southbound Miracle

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

Southbound Miracle

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

~Numbers 6:24

I was heading south on I-5 from Seattle, joyfully singing along with the contemporary Christian tunes blaring from my car stereo. There were a few hours left on my trip home, so I settled comfortably in my seat, tap-tapping my steering wheel to the beat.

“Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above,” I sang loudly.

Suddenly a bizarre question flashed through my mind. What would you do if someone in the lane to your left crashed right now and stuff flew into your windshield blocking your vision?

I went silent. Where had that weird thought come from?

Yet I did ponder what I might do in such a case. I counted the lanes on the freeway: one to my left, two to my right. I decided that if such a strange thing were to happen, I’d quickly check my right rearview mirror for traffic, move across the two lanes if they were clear and stop.

I shrugged, then began listening to the music again. Yet I was more keenly alert to my driving.

About five minutes later I heard a tremendous crash to my left. Instantaneously my windshield was covered with debris.

Oh God, oh God... It’s happening, isn’t it? Help me! I prayed. I instinctively looked in my right rearview mirror. As if on autopilot, as if I had been commanded to do so, I crossed the two lanes and pulled over onto the shoulder.

I quickly got out of my car and saw a car crushed against the concrete barrier separating the southbound and northbound lanes. Several other people parked on the shoulder near me, exited their cars, and ran to the mangled vehicle to open the passenger side. Inside a man was crumpled on the floor of his car. My fellow Samaritans pulled him from the wreckage and quickly carried him across the four lanes to where I stood. I fretted a bit as he was carried: If he had a spinal cord injury, moving him might make it worse. Yet our side of the road seemed the only safe place to lay him.

As he was placed on the ground near me, I saw him bleeding from the mouth. I feared the worst. I ran to my car and grabbed a yellow sweatsuit from my suitcase, covered the injured man with my sweatshirt, then rolled up the sweatpants to form a pillow between his head and the roadside gravel.

As I tucked the fabric under his head, he weakly muttered something strange, “No, no. Don’t help me. Don’t help me.”

It suddenly struck me that the man might be suicidal. Could he have crashed on purpose? It seemed a stretch. But since I’d worked for three years on a psychiatric unit with suicidal patients, I didn’t rule out the possibility that the accident hadn’t been an accident.

A policeman appeared and asked all who had witnessed the accident to describe it. I shared my impression about the man’s comments. Finally, there seemed to be little else I could do, so I got in my car and began driving home.

A few minutes later, I started to weep and shake uncontrollably and did so for the following hour. I realized that in the few seconds it had taken for the accident to happen, I could easily have been killed if I’d been surprised and lost control of my own car. But moments before the accident, a still, small voice had entered my head and prepared me, even helping me to create a plan to protect myself. Never before had I had a premonition like that. Why had that happened? Had God allowed that incident to remind me that my time on Earth might be fleeting, that at any moment I could be face-to-face with Christ?

I later realized that situation wasn’t all about me.

The officer on duty phoned me at my home about a month later to tell me the injured man, desperately depressed, had indeed attempted to kill himself by driving directly into the concrete barrier. He’d since recovered from his injuries and gotten mental and emotional help. It occurred to me that rarely do officers call bystanders simply to reassure them their perceptions about an accident had been correct.

I began to see a greater picture.

God loved that desperate man and knew he was going to attempt to take his life. While allowing for his free will, God put at the ready someone who would recognize those strange few words, “Don’t help me,” as the opposite: a cry for help. God made certain that I would be on the freeway at that exact place and time and even be ready seconds before the accident.

I’d love to meet that man someday, but doubt I will this side of heaven. I wonder how he is treating his second chance at life? Does he see how God protected him, as I see He protected me?

~Laurie Winslow Sargent

Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul 2

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