My sister, Karen, has a fear of traveling by car. She's come by it honestly and it seems without fail, each and every time we drive somewhere Karen's very presence is a magnet to draw vehicles into our lane. I enjoy driving and am usually at the wheel. My sister's attention is everywhere. She is in high alert while in a moving automobile. I have heard it said that 80% of people asked with say they are a good driver and we all know that's impossible. I will venture to say I am a good driver. I was taught by a pro who was all about driving defensively. Now, I am not saying I am perfect but I am safe. Our bio father taught me to take the privilege of driving seriously. "Every time you get behind the wheel of a car you are taking your life and the life of everyone else out there in your hands." One of the better life lessons he gave me.
So there we were, driving home on the rural winding highway and some idiot decided to make a left turn in front of me. I sort of couldn't believe he was doing that in his big old truck. Thank the Lord that I was slowing down when I saw him stopped on the highway because it turned out that he was not my biggest problem. I had my foot on the brake and was hoping I wouldn't have to lock them up because of cars behind me. The truck made the turn and much to my surprise there was a second vehicle behind him that also turned. At that point I put my foot hard down on the brake and I think I said aloud, "We're going to hit!"
One of the things I learned working in public safety was the value of drills. We drilled every Friday night when I was at the fire department. The more you practice and drill, the more second nature the actions become. The memory of what to do actually moves to a place in the brain that stores it for more automatic responses. I was grateful for all the years of being drilled about how to drive.
In the days before anti-lock braking systems my father taught me to pump the brakes. He drilled me on things like steering into the skid, how to shift without using a clutch in a standard car. How to back up like a truck driver and to watch your mirrors. "Two things you should know, the limitations of your car and where the fool is that's going to hit you. Always be worried about the other guy." My first car with ABS he drilled me about how they require longer stopping distances and not to pump the brakes. I was grateful for all those lessons yesterday as I saw an SUV of some sort broadside in front of me.
They use sparse amounts of asphalt in Kentucky. Rural highways have nowhere for you to go but in a ditch or over the edge of a granite cliff or drive into someones home. For a brief instant I considered driving into the left lane but wasn't sure I could control the car in the skid I was in if I did that. I don't think the second vehicle turning realized I was there until he was committed to his turn. The first vehicle turning hadn't realized the second one had turned too and had slowed down once he was clear of my lane. All the things my father had taught me went through my brain. Thankfully the second person realized his/her mistake and floored his vehicle, swooping in and cutting the corner as he drove into the left side of the perpendicular road.
"Are you OK?" We both spoke at once after the necessary pause. "Can you believe they did that?!!" I was dumbstruck. "Good job keeping us alive!" I said to her, "That is a 'Thank You, Lord!' moment." My sister later confessed she had a feeling when we started out that something bad was going to happen. About 4 miles down the road she said she wanted to go back and see the skid marks. We did. Though we both know I had braked earlier the skid marks started just before the intersection and went all the way through it. The second driver probably didn't have but an inch or two total between my car and the mountain he/she had to maneuver around.
Karen said she wanted to find the driver and ask, "Was that good for you? Did you get your adrenaline rush for the day?" Or find out if they had a passenger beating them about the head and shoulders saying "You nearly killed us you fool!" We did not, of course.
This morning on the way to church I thought about the incident. I thought about how often I assume God is going to keep my head above water and how easily life is snuffed out. The thing that gets me the most is why I am here in the first place. Who am I that the Almighty is mindful of me at all let alone extends His sovereignty to save me?