“Oh, Jesus, help us. Jesus, help us,” I prayed as our car fishtailed dangerously close to the guard rail and sharp drop off.
Loose gravel on an unpaved road marked with an incorrect speed limit sign had caused my husband to lose control of our car. After taking some time to go away together during a break from work, we were now on our way home, on a road we had never driven before. Mike had approached this particular stretch of road going too fast, although within the posted speed limit; now we swerved back and forth across both lanes.
As I prayed, Mike tried to control the car. He narrowly avoided smashing into an SUV with a baby sitting in the back seat. Then we rammed into a station wagon, which possibly saved our lives, preventing us from flipping over the shoulder of the road.
Our car jolted to a stop. My husband buried his face in his hands, whispering, “I’m so sorry; I’m so sorry.”
“It’s OK, sweetheart. We’re not hurt; just turn off the car, and I’ll look for your glasses,” I said. His glasses had flown off his face on impact.
People immediately swarmed around us to help. Uninjured, we got out of our car and went to check the driver of the other wrecked car. Katrine seemed shaken but unharmed. Mike apologized to her as we stood outside the cars shivering, waiting for the police on the country road.
The police arrived and questioned us. Mike explained that he had slowed down when he saw the road sign mandating a 70 kilometers per hour speed. The police officer responded in shock.
“You do know that the speed limit is 30 KPH, not 70. I’ve had the number of signs tripled since the last accident here. Yours is the seventh one in less than a week,” he stated.
Mike apologized again, explaining that he honestly thought he saw a 70 KPH speed limit sign. I felt horrible for my husband; he seemed so broken and confused. He said to me, “I don’t know what I would do to myself if I had hurt you.”
After Mike’s explanation, the officer went to investigate the sign and to take photographs. Another officer sat us in his car to keep us out of the cold.
Mike began to sob, apologizing over and over, saying that he felt he had just ruined our lives. I tried to reassure him, explaining how our lives were not ruined, that we would get past this.
I reminded Mike about how I had started a bitter fight with his family two Christmases before, which resulted in our getting kicked out of his parents’ home. He told me that night that he felt like an orphan.
“When that happened, I certainly felt like I had ruined our lives, sweetheart,” I told him. “And this is not nearly as bad as that.”
I told him I loved him no matter what, that I was committed to him. As we shivered in the back seat of the patrol car, I asked Mike if we could give thanks to God.
I took my husband’s hand in one hand, wrapped my other arm around him, and began to pray.
“Lord, we want to give thanks to You now. Thanks that we are safe, that Katrine is safe. Thanks that You gave Mike wisdom in how to handle the car. Thanks that You prevented our hitting the SUV with the baby in it. Thanks that we have car insurance. Thanks that we can trust You to take care of us in any and every situation.”
Later, a tow truck came and took our ruined car away. The lead officer told us that the sign had indeed been labeled incorrectly, and that he would investigate this further. He told us not to worry, that we were not at fault. He offered to speak to our insurance provider to explain that the road crew would be held responsible for the accident.
“Just look after each other,” he said to us as he left.
We rode in the tow truck into town, where a friend picked us up and took us home.
Giving thanks that night showed that we trusted our Father even when we did not understand what He had allowed in our lives. Giving thanks did not change our circumstances; it kept our hearts and minds focused on the reality that never changes.
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