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“Daniel has been in an accident.” It was a phone call no parent wants to receive.
My older brother, Daniel, had fallen asleep at the wheel while driving along a Texas highway one Sunday afternoon. His eyes had been closed only for a few seconds. He opened them just as the car started to veer off to the edge of the road… but it was too late.
Daniel crashed hard into a metal guardrail, completely totaling his car, and sending it into a tailspin. Thankfully, the oncoming traffic was far on the other side of a wide, grassy median, and the vehicles behind him were far enough back to slow down and stop in time.
Daniel miraculously crawled away (yes, he literally crawled out of the missing passenger door since the driver door was jammed shut) with minor scrapes and bruises. It could have easily been a fatal tragedy, involving multiple vehicles. But God had other plans.
It was the spring of 1998, and Daniel was a freshman in college at the time. Half-way around the world, my parents were serving as missionaries in Argentina, and my twin brother and I were still living at home with them.
My parents received the phone call in the late, dark hours of the night from a trusted, family friend. They had just gone to bed and were startled by the long-distance call with news of my brother’s accident. A mother now myself, I can only imagine the fear and heartache my parents must have felt in that moment.
A few weeks later, my brother mailed a letter to my parents, enclosing photos of the wreckage. I remember seeing my mother collapse into a chair, sobbing, as she surveyed the photos. There were tears of disbelief and tears of gratitude. The car looked as though it had been crushed like a tin can.
Every part of the car, with exception to the driver’s seat, was completely smashed in; the ceiling had come within inches of Daniel’s head. It was an absolute miracle he had survived, and it was such a blessing that no one else had been in the car with him that day, because surely, they would have perished, based on the visible destruction in the photos.
Affixed to the photos was a note with a scripture verse: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14).
That crash was a reminder to my brother— and to me as well— that life is short and unpredictable. It was a reminder to wake up from our daily routines and earthly priorities and to turn our focus to God, handing over the steering wheel and letting Him direct our paths.
My brother has lived on to accomplish many great things, including raising a beautiful family and faithfully serving in his church and community. His miraculous delivery is not only a testimony of God’s greatness and mercy, it is a stark reminder of how life is fragile and fleeting.
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
As humans, when tragedy strikes or when we face near-death experiences, we usually start to focus on what’s most important. God. Our family. Our legacy. Being present and enjoying every moment.
But you don’t need to wait for those defining moments. You don’t need to wait for that life-threatening diagnosis or the death of a loved one.
Like Tim McGraw’s country song says, “someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.” After learning about his terminal illness, the main character in the song went skydiving, mountain climbing, and bull-riding, crossing off thrilling adventures from his “bucket list,” one by one. He also spoke sweeter, loved deeper, and he gave forgiveness he’d been denying.
The song encourages its listeners to live every day to the fullest and to not take life for granted, but I want to take the song’s message a step deeper and encourage you to daily live your life like you are dying to yourself.
Live for God, not for you. Look for ways to bless others, forsaking any personal gain. Give God control of your life. Give Him the wheel.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4
A new life of fullness… filled with purpose and direction.
Are you asleep at the wheel? Are you driving down a path of your own choosing and not God’s? Are you missing the signs He’s sending you?
You can start fresh today. Put the past in the rear-view mirror. It’s ok to look at it and to know where you’ve come from, but it’s behind you, and it doesn’t need to guide you anymore. Your past, no matter how bad the wreckage, doesn’t define you. We are defined by the love, and grace, and acceptance of our heavenly Father.
Let God guide you. Let Him steer your wheel as He leads you on the path of life. There may be potholes, stops signs, and wrong turns along the way, but He will help you safely reach your ultimate, glorious destination as long as you are willing to entrust your life to Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Safe travels, my friend.
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