Every year for many years, my family and some family friends took a weekend vacation at a Holiday Inn. We rented poolside rooms, went out to eat, and saw movies. It was a real treat that we looked forward to every winter.
My freshman year of high school, we drove about an hour away to a different Holiday Inn only to discover that they hadn't given us poolside rooms. The parents got reservations at a different Holiday Inn near where our friends lived, so we got back on the road.
Our friends wanted to stop and get something from home, so we waited for them out in the car. As I waited, I thought, "I don't want to go." I questioned myself on this reaction because I absolutely loved these weekends with our friends. No matter how rational I tried to be, I couldn't shake the feeling. I even considered telling everyone that I didn't want to go, but I knew they would think I was crazy. I figured I was.
We checked into the hotel, played some mini golf, and went out for a yummy pizza dinner. I went out to the parking lot of the restaurant and lifted up the door handle of our Volare. It was the only brand new car my parents had ever purchased. Without thinking much about it, I let the door handle go and I got into the car with my friends. This was very atypical behavior for me. I wasn't one to decide to ride with another family on a whim. Our friends' son climbed into the back seat of our car since I was taking his spot.
We made the drive through a residential area on our way back to the hotel that night. My family was in front of our friends' car. I saw a car speeding and swerving wildly up ahead of us. I watched as though seeing a movie in which I thought for sure the out-of-control car was going to miss my family. At the last second, the car careened into the front of my family's vehicle sending it into a 360 spin.
The next hours were horrific. My dad stumbled out of the vehicle with blood pouring down his face. The drunk and high driver put his head through the windshield of his car, but came over to my mother who was wedged under the dash, and tried to pull her out of the vehicle. Our friend, and the driver of the car I was in, was a police officer and immediately put a stop to that. My mother's arm was shattered and it took more than a year of surgeries and treatment for her to recover. She was never able to return to her previous position as a service technician for Sears. My brother came out of car with the knee of his pants soaked in blood. He and my dad were treated at the hospital and released. I never saw our friend's son, but learned that he had pushed the car's headrest (that we'd never been able to budge) up into the air with his mouth. He required a lot of dental work as a result of the accident. My baby brother, fortunately, wasn't with us.
After the initial shock wore off, I wondered at my initial reaction to our trip and at my decision to ride with my friends. Had God been trying to protect us? Why wasn't I in that car? Even though our family, friends, and especially my mother suffered much as the result of the accident, we were also protected. No one lost their lives. It could have been much, much worse.
Since the accident, I have learned to listen more closely to God's warnings. I have also learned that even when I forge ahead anyway, I am still under His protection. As much pain as I've experienced in life, without Christ, it could have been much, much worse.
But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may your salvation, God, protect me. (Psalm 69:29)