I drove home today, driving a little more cautious than normal. Checking for the danger points: the blind hills, the children kicking a ball in the grass by the curb, the kid on the bike jamming with his headphones, and, of course, that massive semi-trailer truck, lurching out from an alleyway.
I listened to a man tell me about his highway accident. He said it’s such a difficult story to tell, because he doubts anyone believes what happened to him. What he experienced. What changed him.
On a cool Texas evening, he never saw it coming…
When the 18-wheel gravel truck pulled out onto the highway, he was driving his pickup truck, approaching from behind. He knew he didn’t have a chance. He instinctively blew his horn and, just as instinctively, the big rig driver hit his brakes. Smoke blew up from the searing asphalt beneath its tires. He braked hard, but the deceleration of the big rig was too sudden. Leaving little time to react, his pickup veered to the right, but could not avoid hitting the rear of the gravel truck. The front end of the pickup sheared its hood under the rig. He had one second. One second to…he ducked down to the right and, as he fell to the floorboard, the rear of the gravel truck shattered the windshield, entering the cab, and hitting his head.
Blackout. Darkness. Feeling around to touch something, but there was nothing. No left, right, top or bottom. Just a void. Complete silence. Not even the sound of breathing. But still, an awareness.
Then he saw the candlelight. A soft flicker in the distance, wavering like a dim beacon caught in a watery reflection. It grew larger, approaching him. It shifted form, and suddenly had a presence that he could not deny.
And this is the part of the story he sometimes hesitates sharing with people, because he can tell by their expressions that they doubt him. He knows they think he’s making it up, but he is certain it was Jesus. “I know it sounds crazy. So many Jesus stories and so many doubters, but I’d have to be crazy to make this stuff up. And since I’m not, I know he was there. He was much larger than I could ever have imagined.”
In that moment, somewhere between life and death, he says Jesus spoke and told him to open up, to no longer hold things inside himself. He had made plenty of mistakes in his life. He had stacks of regret piled high in the deepest recesses of his memory. Lord knows, he took the drinking way too far. He went on a six-year trip that led to nowhere. He missed time with his family because his thirst became a priority. He did his best to make up for that lost time. He forever ached that his spoken remorse to those he loved just wasn’t enough to make things right. And then he felt it….his heart unhinged itself from all that it held. He was relinquishing himself of worry, troubles, guilt, bills, home repairs, needless knee-jerk reactions, aches and pains. He was experiencing a release of everything, because the man whom he had prayed to for so long had arrived with open arms.
In the blink of an eye, the scene changed to flickers of other lights now approaching him. Multiple colors, chaotic in a way, but arriving as a collective group. Larger and larger they grew in size and intensity, followed by a voice.
“Hey, you ok? Can you hear me?”
For a moment he felt slightly disoriented, but the foggy feeling in his head quickly dissipated, and he acknowledged with a nod.
“Look, we’re gonna get you out of there. But I need you to be still. We need to cut you free. Air Flight is on its way.”
Another nod, but this time with a smile. Trapped within the harsh confines of mangled steel and the shattered housing of the cab of his pickup, he said, “I’m good. Beat up, but I’m good”
A second voice could be heard. A police officer. “I gotta see this guy! He’s in too good of spirits. Hey, you okay? You’re in quite a mess there—my God, your head….sure you’re okay?”
There was a gash in the top of his forehead, sending blood running down the side of his face, pooling on the car seat where he lay. He was able to raise his arm and press his hand against the deep cut.
Looking at his bloody palm, he smiled. He was fine. Absolutely fine. In the midst of this gruesome wreckage of leaking gasoline, disfigured doors, broken glass, and splintered steel, he had been given peace and told to move forward. He now saw a fireman approaching, carrying The Jaws of Life. He could also hear the distinct, deep thumping noise of the helicopter blades of Air Flight as it neared.
Above the pain, he smiled because he was in a place to start anew. And these people now surrounding him──what they didn’t know was that, miraculously, he had already been set free.
Copyright Ros Hill 2015