Some drive, others are driven.
28 July, 2000

[ I need to shut down my computer and move it to the new house. No telling when I'll be in cyberspace again. So here, a few days early, is my weekly letter, half of which someone else wrote. ]

Dear Friend,

. . . This week I escaped a serious auto accident by a fraction of a second.
. . . Instead of ambling down a back road as I usually do on my commute, I was headed down Highway 52, going just over the 45mph speed limit. I'd drive slower but drivers, here as everywhere, expect you to drive ten miles per hour over the speed limit or they start tailgating, flashing their lights, and honking their horns.
. . . Just this week, a woman was killed near here because she didn't get out of the way of some jerk fast enough. Turns out, she's the second person he's run off the road and killed.
. . . People like me want to see guys like this slowly roasted over an open flame. Then we remember we're Christians. We remember that we, too, should be slowly roasted -- or at least thoroughly refined in some sort of purifying fire.
. . . Thoughts like this take all the fun out of righteous condemnation. So, rather than keep them to myself, I share them with you, my grateful reader.
. . . There I was, cruising down Highway 52, when I notice this car decide to cross in front of me. Horn? Who had time for a horn? She and the child in the car had to hear my wheels squeal. Then they were gone and I was once again cruising down the road.
. . . Nothing happened but that's not how it felt. My attention was elsewhere yet I saw her in time and reacted in time. Was I lucky? Unlucky? Blessed? And why wasn't there a truck following close behind me? Usually there is, driven by a guy called Handy. Had he been there, Handy would have slammed into me and me into her. Where was he?
. . . I asked these questions of a doctor in Kansas. Wouldn't you? He's something of a cynic and I thought he might have something pithy to say. He did.
. . . "You're right. I do see a lot of patients who have accidents. Although they didn't avoid the accident, they still think they are special in someone's (God's) eyes as they often ask 'Why me?' (i.e., why am I chosen?).
. . . "Depending on my mood, I sometimes reply with an old question (you might recall Jesus often responded to questions with another question), which I saw in Mad Magazine some 30+ years ago: 'Did you have someone else in mind?'
. . . "Other times I am more sympathetic. I also see many accidents that could have been worse and hear comments about how lucky the patient was.
. . . "To me, avoiding a car accident by a split second or not getting on a plane for which you have a ticket thereby avoiding the plane crash is not the striking issue around which discussions of coincidence vs. God's grace should revolve but, in my own experience, it's premonitions and their follow through that let me know God is working in the situation.
. Snowy roads; a photo.. . "From the near-miss accident realm let me give you an example from my own experience. A few years ago, while driving in snow on slick roads with my family, we approached an overpass. We could not see the other side. I was in the left lane.
. . . "I suddenly had the sense that I needed to get around the truck on my right. I rarely get a sense like this. No sooner did I pull into the right lane in front of the truck, than we crested the overpass and saw a stalled car in the left lane, just a few feet ahead. If I was in the left lane, I would have slid right into him or her.
. . . "That experience reveals my understanding of grace. Of course, such premonitions are hard to 'prove.' Most people, unfortunately, think of grace in other terms. Most people find it easier to believe those with all the physical blessing are experiencing God's grace (and those without, aren't).
. . . "I find that belief and the whole 'reward for doing right' system a major stumbling block. And it seems to be getting worse because it meshes so well with our growing consumerism.
. . . "Sorry to diverge into my favorite diatribe. I'm glad to hear you are getting into your new house, despite all the new struggles it will bring. Of course you appear to be enjoying most of these struggles as they are material for your writings.
. . . "I do think living simply is a very complex thought. Just understanding the concept is difficult. Most people want techno-gadgets that will relieve them of hassles, thereby making their life simpler. Also, having other people let go of their 'baggage' would make them so much simpler to deal with. And, if they can't do that, then cutting them out of my life would certainly simplify my life.
. . . "Preaching simplicity in church will always be in season, as preaching education always sounds good from a politician, but aah, those details on how to get from here to there.
. . . "It's been good to visit with you along the way. I hope Barbara is feeling good about your move together and her work. Give her a simple greeting for me. -- Rich."

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