Last Tuesday, I answered a call from a number I didn’t recognize, and the voice on the phone uttered words no parent ever wants to hear: “I’m sorry, but your son has been in an accident.” Instantly, the world stopped, and my stomach was filled with lead.
That morning, my wife Catherine and I had said goodbye to our son Ryan after his ten-day visit home. He was traveling to his second internship semester at Disney; he was excited about it, so we were as well. He did have a seven-hour drive by himself to Orlando, but he had made that trip alone before, and he was a responsible driver.
I wasn’t worried about the trip. Later, Catherine would remember that something prompted her to pray shortly after he left, to ask for his safe travel and protection, but she didn’t think much about it afterwards. Mostly, we were just a little sad he was gone again.
As Ryan traveled down I-75, somehow (even he is not sure how) his right tires hit a bump and slipped off the road, and the car suddenly spun out of control. In an eternity of about two seconds, he watched as the car slammed against the interstate guardrail, which buckled with the impact. Steel girders crushed the passenger side of the car, ending up inches from where he sat, somewhat dazed, in the driver’s seat.
By incredible luck or divine intervention, Ryan walked away from that terrible crash. He now has staples holding cuts in his leg together, and he needed an operation to repair a broken nose, but those were the worst of his injuries. An inconvenience, sure, but compared to what could have happened, he escaped virtually intact.
Ryan says he feels lucky to still be here, and that the experience will help him focus even more on what is truly important in life. He believes his challenge now is to utilize that thankfulness to counter the complacency that can so easily creep into our day-to-day existence.
I feel very blessed. But, at times, I have also felt numb, not wanting to comprehend what could have happened. I have felt appreciative, but also wondered why my life hasn’t become consumed with overwhelming joy. My thankfulness is real; in fact, I think God tangibly and specifically protected Ryan. But all of life’s worries haven’t evaporated, and the many tasks since the accident have kept me busy with way-too-practical activities.
Is some of this shock? Am I not being grateful enough?
Although there is at least a partial “yes” to those questions, I don’t think that is the crux of how I am feeling, or how I will feel in the future. Somehow, my thankfulness and wonder for God’s mercy and protection seem to have been absorbed into a larger perspective.
I am not numb. I am feeling deep emotions, but they are threads woven into an eternal fabric of faith. And I am deeply, even passionately, grateful. Ryan has been spared, and I have been given a blessing that will never diminish, but which will mature and grow over time. My outside life may be similar now to what it was four days ago (we are sitting here now watching a dumb, but funny, television show) but I feel that something inside has been altered in at least a small way that will never go back to how it was before.
When someone feels that an all-powerful God has done something miraculous and wonderful in their life, will everything ever be quite the same again?
I don’t think so, and even that realization makes me feel thankful.
What is an important event from your life that has inspired you to become more thankful?
Action: Read the articles from the category Spiritual Growth on The STEPS Journey Blog at LifeImprovementSteps.com. Meditate on how you would like the rest of your life journey to go.