I was driving to work one morning minding my own worrisome business when I suddenly found myself stalled by road construction. I could not move. There were cars in front of me, cars behind me and cars to the right of me. To my left was a cement meridian, two empty lanes for west bound traffic, and a north-south side road that formed a T-intersection.
Barreling down that road was an 18-wheeler.
Time stalled. My attention focused solely on that rig. It wasn’t going to stop. For a brief eternity my gaze locked with the truck driver’s. I could tell that we both knew I was going to die.
As he shot into the intersection my breath caught. I closed my eyes and tightened my grip on the steering wheel. I thought of my family; my students who weren’t going to have a teacher that day; my friends; and my God.
When was the last time I’d given God a thought? What part of my life held any eternal value? When I stood before him what could I possibly say to defend the life I’d lived?
Before despair could claim me I heard my soul cry out, “Father, I know I’m not ready, but I’m coming home. Please, please, forgive me.”
Instantly my car filled up with so much love, and so much peace, and so much joy, it overflowed. I was held fast in the serene embrace of God.
Slowly the intensity faded. Was I alive? I hadn’t heard a crash. I felt no pain.
This world filtered back to me one sense at a time. My hands were clutching the steering wheel. The radio was playing. I could feel sunshine on my face. I opened my eyes. There, outside my driver’s window was the grill of the semi, just a hair-span from my door. On the grill of the truck was a dead fly. I could see the veins in its iridescent wings.
I was alive. Alive in a way I had never been before. The joy and the peace of God still reside within me today, and the next time I find myself standing before the throne of God, I will still be unworthy, but I will remember the mercy the Lord has already showered upon this disobedient child whom he loves.
In my life, there is nothing more important than that.