Pardon me for this blog. I know it's terribly selfish to write about someone else's tragedy, but in my writer's mind, there's no way to fully process until nouns join adjectives and proceed together. It just is that way.
Andy and I went to Dallas today. His parents will be in Dallas for a conference this weekend, and we met them for breakfast at and IHOP. Last night, our friends from MC prayed over us- for safe travel & fruitful time together. I now sit at my computer in Austin knowing that many prayers were answered, and yet shaken up despite, and maybe even because of them.
On the way home, Andy and I were maybe 30-40 miles down the road when we came upon an accident. It had just occurred. No emergency vehicles had yet arrived, though there were a number of vehicles stopped along the roadside. Andy pulled off to the side instinctively, and we both exited the vehicle. Since the accident was on the opposite side of the road (North-bound side, and we were South-bound), I couldn't really see how much damage there had been from where we stopped our vehicle. Andy ran over to the scene, and I stood alone for a moment, until curiosity and a desire to pray drew me toward the wreckage. I could see that men with fire extinguishers were trying to put out flames from the smaller vehicle, but until I crossed the street and approached the cars themselves, I did not understand the extent of the damage.
It took slow seconds to take it in. A large silver SUV was on its side, people were using some sort of metal object to smash through the windows, I think. The smaller black vehicle was crumpled like a used tissue. Smoke came from the front end of the vehicle. I was confused, standing there, looking at the people around, scouting for Andy, and in that confusion, it didn't immediately register that the man laying down in the grass beside the black vehicle was not moving at all. I saw him, and my mind and everything else around me, it seemed, was very, very slow. "Why isn't anyone helping him?" I thought. Like I said, I had walked over to the accident with the intent to pray for anyone who might be hurt and would be receptive to that sort of thing. While I stared at the motionless figure in blue jeans and white t-shirt, I thought, "Maybe he needs prayer." Was it seconds? Minutes? I don't know. I can't really tell you. I watched his chest for what seemed like a really long time. It never moved. No one went over to him, everyone was focusing their effort on the flames at the front of the vehicle and/or the driver of the over-turned SUV. I don't know if there was ever a moment when I thought, "That man is dead." Oddly, my mind immediately thought of eternal things. "Where is he?" I thought, almost panicked. "Did he know Jesus?"
It's odd. This man was probably around my age and probably less than fifteen minutes before I saw him, he was alive. Had I seen him at a gas station or a book store or at IHOP, I wouldn't have done anything other than smile politely the way you do at nice, bearded young-looking people. I would have walked right past him, thinking nothing of any consequence. But, there, in that context, I was distraught over his soul.
There was a second victim, the driver of the black car. I did not see him, but Andy did. His body was wedged in the driver's seat. Truckers with extinguishers fought the flames that wanted to devour his gray-colored flesh. Did he know Jesus? Where is he now?
Like I said, I'm sorry for writing this. This is the worst day of someone's life- some mother or wife or father or brother. Someone realized too long after I did, that the guy in the jeans wasn't going to make it home.
I haven't got any way to wrap this up nicely. I'm writing it because I have to, because someone's life ended abruptly on I-35 today, and, by some mystery, I witnessed the moments after he parted with this world.
When we got back in the car, I cried, and said, "Jesus, I hope that they knew you!" I don't have anything other than that, really. I keep seeing that man's motionless chest and lips that were starting to turn blue. And I want to know that he is in paradise with Jesus. I hope. I hope.
Strange to realize when you get back to your desk that you have been "protected." This week I am writing about Jesus as the Gate- a passage very much about His ability to protect us and give us life to the full. I knew it would be hard to write- in light of the world and humanity and tragedy and sin- it's not simple to understand life and what happens in it. The simpler thing is death and what happens after. That is a matter of belief. Jesus=life. That is that simple. In every chapter of Snapshots of Who I Am, I could say that the identity of a believer in Jesus Christ is that they are alive because of who He is. Life is a major thing with Jesus. He talks about it all the time. I just hope that the people who lost their lives today had listened to Him at some point, and that a glorious eternal inheritance awaits them- wherever they are right now.