Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Mercy of God In Accidents

My wife and I recently went to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Deeper conference put on by Living Waters. It was a fantastic conference, and I can't wait to go again next year. Check this post for some info on the conference.

My wife wanted to fly to the conference, but I insisted that we drive for a few reasons: 1) I love to drive, especially long distances; 2) I've never been through Tennesee, and I wanted to go throug their (although, next time it would be nice to go through Tennesee in the daytime - it's hard to see any of the Blue Ridge mountains at night!); 3) I'm fat, and I don't fit into airplane seats. Thus, we made the 17 hour one way trip, leaving at about 2:30 PM on Tuesday afternoon and arriving in Canton, Georgia (the location of our hotel) at about 8:30 AM on Wednesday. The week in Georgia was a blast, as we did some sight seeing and attended the conference.

We left Canton at approximately 4:00 PM on Saturday afternoon. I drove until about 8:00 PM, and then Betsy took over until about 10:00 PM. We switched, and I volunteered to drive until 5:00 AM or so, so Betsy could sleep. And then when she took over in the early morning, I would take some time to sleep as well.

During the entire trip down to Georgia I had been seeing a lot of deer lying dead on the highway, and being October, I knew that deer were out and about, and that I needed to be wary of them being on the road. Thankfully, though, we didn't have any problems on the way down, and the trip went smoothly.

The possibility of seeing a deer was still in my mind during the return trip to Minnesota, and I devised a plan of what I would do if I were to encounter a deer on the road: I would slam on the brakes, but I would not swerve - I would rather hit a deer then swerve into the forrest on one side of the highway, or the ditch on the other. Hitting a deer is better than rolling over, or running into a tree! Unfortunately, I never got a chance for my plan to play out, becuase at approximately 2:30 in the morning during our return trip to Minnesota, we were barrelling down Highway 27 in northern Missouri, about 50 miles south of the Iowa border, and a large buck dove headlong into my left front fender. His right shoulder slammed against my headlight, completely removing it, and the rest of his body mangled my hood and bent the fender into the front left tire. His head smashed against my windshield, right in front of my face, leaving a large spot of deer saliva on the glass and cracking the windshield. When his head connected with the glass his antlers broke, and I could hear them sail over my car and land on the pavement.

The entire incident happened before I could even think about stepping on the brakes. In fact, I don't think I even touched the brake pedal until AFTER the whole ordeal had occurred. I did slam on the brakes, however, mostly out of instinct, and my car screeched to a halt over the next 100 feet, leaving black tire skid marks on the pavement.

My wife had been asleep the entire time, but woke up quite quickly, and in a bit of shock. A Missouri state trooper happened along the highway after about 5 minutes, and he and I were able to locate the dead deer in the median of the highway. If anything, I can take consolation that the deer most likely broke its neck upon impact and was killed instantly.

I've been thinking a lot about this incident - it's the first (and hopefully last) time I've ever hit a deer. Betsy and I are very blessed to have not been injured in the crash. A friend of mine in high school hit a deer once, and his windshield collapsed onto his face, breaking his nose and cutting him up very badly. Nothing of the sort happened to us, though. If anything, an event like this has shown me how God has worked in my life. That sounds kind of weird. How is obliterating a deer with my new car evidence of how God has been working in me? Believe it or not, I think this event is an evidence of God's mercy. Here are some examples of God's mercy in my life, as evidenced by this event:

1) God has been merciful by blessing Betsy and I so that we were able to afford a new car.
2) God has shown mercy by giving us loving families who were willing to care for our son while we went away.
3) God showed mercy by providing the resources we needed in order to be able to go to the Deeper conference.
4) God's mercy was evident in that we had safe travel for our trip down to the conference.
5) God blessed us by sparing us from injury in the accident.
6) Our car was not so damaged that it couldn't be driving. We were able to continue the trip without having to have the car towed.
7) God has shown mercy by making us able to afford car insurance.

This list could go on and on, and could be confined merely to this one instance. For example, I could still note that: we were able to afford some sight-seeing; we were able to afford meals on the trip; we stayed healthy during the trip; and on and on the list goes. God is merciful in so many ways that I don't even realize - there are so many things that we take for granted. The fact that I am breathing right now is evidence of the mercy of God. This is especially astounding when I think that I have done nothing to merit the mercy that God shows me. In fact, I deserve the opposite! I don't deserve a new car, good insurance, a loving family, safety, or anything!

When I think about God's mercy in this event in my life, I start to think about all the other times where God stepped in and I didn't even realize it - and they were probably much greater than this one! Bible commentator Matthew Henry knew how to see God's mercy in everything. He was once mugged and robbed, and ended up writing this in his journal: "Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because they took my purse and not my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed."

Granted, smashing into a deer on a highway is indeed an odd place to discover the mercy of God, but it's there. The key is to realize it and then praise him for it, which is what I'm doing.


Noiz said...

Wow! Thats wild! But it does go to show you how proper theology can give you a proper view of accidents. Hope that the accident doesn't take away from what you received at Deeper.

Joel said...

Thanks for the comment. If anything, the accident only affirmed and encouraged what I received at Deeper. It helped to open my eyes all the more to the love of God and his grace through the gospel. I deserved to be killed in the accident, not spared. And even more than that, God died for me! God's mercy is amazing.

WayneDawg said...

Hey Joel - I linked to you via noiz's site.

I too was at Deeper but did not have to drive but about 40 minutes to get there. I had the pleasure of sleeping in my own bed and driving only a short distance to FBCW.

I was blown away by the amount of people I met who drove long distances to attend Deeper. My family attended FBCW for over 5 years until we moved further north and now attend First Baptist Canton.

Praise God that you and your wife were not injured and, like noiz, see the appreciation of proper theology concerning the incident.

I hate that you did not get to join us in Atlanta for the 'invasion' but I'm sure you were fired up enough to witness to anything that moved!!

God bless

Chris said...


I was with the same crew you were with Saturday night hitting the BET awards (my first time being out like that). I'm glad you made it through your encounter with a deer!

I saw your post on Noiz's blog about getting a recording of the Paul Washer breakout session to folks in your church. I went to the Todd Friel breakout session. I bought the audio cd's for the entire conference (so I could pass it around to folks at my church) but none of the breakout sessions were part of it (except Kirk's).

Is there anyway I could get a copy of that recording?


Joel said...


They didn't record Washer's breakout session, but a lady at the info desk told me that there already was a recording of the same message, but just not the one from the Deeper conference. She said that Paul Washer would post it on his website in the near future.


Chris said...

Thanks Joel... that's actually the reason I picked a different breakout session, figuring Paul's message was out there on the internet somewhere. But as I'm typing this I looked on his site and it's been posted! Here it is for everyone else:


Joel said...


Thanks for the link! I'm glad they were able to record and post the message, and that we are able to hear it again.