Yesterday, on the way to pick up my oldest son from a class he was taking, my kids and I were on the freeway driving in the rain (yay for rain!!). I noticed the car in front of me slam on his brakes, and thankfully I had enough space between the two of us to slow down without anything too crazy happening.
I was at a complete stop, when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a small car behind me approaching really fast. I could tell he was not going to be able to stop fast enough, and I quickly tried to move to the right to avoid getting hit. Unfortunately, I could only move so fast, and he collided with me.
Our van was pushed into the onramp of traffic, and thankfully (again), an oncoming car was able to swerve around me to avoid hitting us.
I turned around and looked at the kids. “Are you guys okay?” They all nodded yes, looking a little shocked at what had happened.
I got out of my car and approached the car behind me. It was much worse off than mine was, and the whole front bumper was almost touching the asphalt. A young man, probably in his early 20s, with dark black hair, came out of the driver’s side. I asked if he was okay, and he kind of had this blank stare and nodded yes. He just said, “I don’t know what to do now?” I told him it was all going to be all right, I would call CHP and we would get everything straightened out. I said I was just thankful all my kids were ok. He looked at me with this horrified expression and said, “You have kids in the car? I’m so sorry! I’m really sorry!” I told him again I was just thankful everyone was ok, it was just a car, and could be fixed.
I walked back to my car and sat down in the driver’s seat and called the CHP to come help. As I sat there waiting, I saw the man in my rearview mirror, standing in the rain, leaning against his car. He looked deeply troubled.
I opened up my door and called out, “Do you want to come sit in the car and wait with us?”
He came and sat in the passenger seat and said, “I think we’re supposed to exchange information or something, right?” I said yes, and that we should exchange insurance info as well, and he looked down and said, “I don’t have any insurance.” I could tell he felt like he was going to be sick.
My heart hurt for this guy. I know he should have had insurance, and I probably could have been mad, but there in front of me, was a human, someone’s son, maybe someone’s brother or even someone’s daddy. It was like I was seeing him through the eyes of Jesus. He could have driven off. He could have lied. But he didn’t. And being upset with him wouldn’t solve anything. I just couldn’t be angry.
I asked him where he lived, where he was going, and made some small chit-chat. Then I asked if he went to church anywhere nearby.
He said he didn’t, but that he was open to going. I told him about our church and that there was even one of our sister churches in his neighborhood. There was actually a glimmer of hope in his eyes, and he said, “Thanks for being so nice about this.”
CHP arrived, we filed the report, and soon I shook hands with the young man, told him I’d be praying for him, and we were on our way.
As I drove off, I thought about our chance encounter. It could have been anyone involved in that accident. But for some reason, it was the two of us. I don’t know what the purpose of our circumstance was, but I know that there was a purpose. Maybe he just needed a bit of encouragement. Maybe he needed to know that God was looking out for him. Maybe he just needed someone to ask if he wanted to go to church. I didn’t know what his needs were, but God did.
And I trust that He knows what He’s doing.
How we react in stressful circumstances can make or break a person’s day. Praying you see those around you through God’s eyes today!