Discouragement came for me this weekend. After checking and double checking all our tech we still lost the live feed right in the middle of the sermon. The internet went down and we had to reset. It happens, but this is two weeks in a row of dropping the ball on the tech front, and I left Oak Street with my head low. I felt like a failure. And the texts and calls I received to poke fun all increased this feeling.
So I drove home a beaten man. I had given all that study, all the passion and prayer, just to have the tech fail and distract. It seemed that the failure was the only part anyone commented on. I was headed home and didn’t take the left that would lead to my waiting family. I went straight on towards 69, resigned to eat something awful and unhealthy. Taco Bell was going to be the winner this day.
It is a funny thing how the mind can fixate on one thing. I couldn’t see past the imperfection. In my mind it negated all the work and mission of an entire season. Sitting here I know that is ridiculous, but perception is a powerful thing. I was held in the grasp of the lie that said, “You performed badly so you should feel bad.”
These thoughts were the only ones in my head when the car in front of me lost control.
There was a light drizzle on this Sunday afternoon. I learned years ago to lower my speed during such conditions. I do not fear hydroplaning, but rather the oil and fluids upon the pavement becoming slick. The Mercury ahead of me had no such fears. They were driving fast and loose as they began to slide.
Losing control is a scary thing. Our first instincts our seldom the right ones. I slowed up strongly, but I didn’t slam on my brakes. I needed to keep control of this big truck so I didn’t crush someone. We were both in the slow lane and there were cars spotted across all four lanes. The Mercury skidded wildly onto the shoulder and the driver made the classic mistake. She overcorrected while slamming on the brakes. The car came back onto the highway and went into a spin. It watched as it spun 180 degrees and was facing me nose to nose. I was slowing down and they were still moving at highway speeds butt first down the highway. I could see the two young girls in the car and they were screaming. The driver was spinning the wheel in panic as cars ahead and besides began to steer away. I didn’t hear the squeal of rubber on cement. I am guessing that was the rain. But I heard the sedan hit the wall. It was coming in trunk first at a 45 degree angle. That rear quarter panel took the hardest hit, but inertia carried the rest of the vehicle into the wall. The car scrapped along the wall which then transition into guardrail. The car bounced violently and finally came to a stop as the tires grabbed the dirt along the shoulder.
Without realizing it I had paced the crashing car and had come to the shoulder with them. I was out before anyone in the car moved. I think there is the shock of realizing you were just in a car accident. There were two white women in the car, and they were staring at me but not seeing me. I came upon them slowly, hands out to show I was a friend. I was there to help, but I never forget that I am in Flint and I am big Mexican male. I didn’t want to scare these ladies even more than they already were.
I came upon the car and the driver still wasn’t reacting to me. I used my preacher voice and kept asking if they were okay. I came to the hood and walked up alongside between the vehicle and the guardrail. I had seen something during the accident, and had to make sure everyone was safe.
As that car was spinning I saw a spot of pinkish purple in the backseat. I know the color well. It was the color of Vera Bradley. It was the color of baby supplies. I kept speaking as I past her window and veered into the backseat. There was a baby seat still buckled into place behind the driver. Thankfully, it was empty. My nerves loosened a bit and I came back to the driver. I knocked and she finally reacted.
Now, I am not going to tell what happened on the side of that highway. Some things are between the people involved and the Lord God of heaven. But nerves were calmed and people were safe. We got the car off the highway and those two ladies were out of immediate danger. I jumped back in the Church truck wet and full of adrenaline. And before I threw it into drive and headed to the Bell I bowed my head in prayer.
I was still tired from the effort of a hard day. But my perspective had changed. I wasn’t looking at me anymore. I was looking at the women in that car. I was seeing the mission of Jesus. I was seeing a city in need of a Savior. And I was seeing all the people who desired to be the hands of feet of Christ in the here and now. As I put the car into drive, I had a different feeling than discouragement. There was hope. There is always hope.