Sunday, July 17, 2005


Yesterday we could have been killed.

Or seriously hurt.

Or hurt…period.

But for some reason and out of all the possible outcomes available to what happened yesterday, the one most beneficial to us physically was played out. I shall try to briefly ‘splain myself in a moment.

Our (mine, Spen and Dave’s) destination on this Saturday, July 16th, was not to stand and stare in amazement at Spen’s battered vehicle in the pouring rain smack-dab in the middle of southbound Interstate 75. Indeed, mile marker 102 just south of Lexington was to uneventfully pass on by just like it had on previous caving trips that I had driven. Yet, factor in three lanes of traffic and heavy rain and a pool of water and 6 seconds of life were suspended as our late-90’s Prelude entered a “fish-tail,” wherein the rear of the vehicle loses traction and sways out of control in an eerie smoothness. We were in the left-most lane when we hit the water and it hydroplaned our rear leftward. As the car came out of the lurch, we were fifty miles per hour and angled forty-five degrees into the crowded flow of traffic (yet mercifully still in our lane). Immediately, the rear wheels caught pavement in a sick screech and violently swung the car to the left. I just went with it, which in turn slammed us further left into the concrete center guard- first the front-end and then instantly the rear left side. I remember thinking “just keep it left….keep it left.”

We skidded and sputtered to a stop and realized we were okay… least in these emerging seconds. I began imagining other motorists hydroplaning into our rear end as we were not far away from the water hazard. We still weren’t out of the woods. I started the car again and it limped forward another hundred yards, presumably to where we hoped was “greater” safety. All the while, tractor-trailers, cars and trucks with boats zoomed by undaunted by the conditions and grossly uncritical of their speed.

Unhurt, we began to assess, recollect and plot our next move. Just as we contemplated calling the police for a report, a patrolman arrived within minutes behind us, and then a fire truck. The officer commented that the several calls made about us were “sure” there were injuries. He also said most all of the wrecks like ours that he had seen end up in serious injury and, of course, even worse. We weren’t aware of how bad the car was until he told us our rear left wheel was crooked. Milling around the fairly extensive damage to the left side of this car in a three-inch deep road river helped to make the whole episode real to us I suppose.

Now I want to tell you why the computer game series, Need For Speed perhaps saved our lives.

I will first make the foundational statement that it is God whom I attribute our preservation in this incident. I don’t know if there were suspensions in the natural order of the physical world and that we were miraculously spared. I just don’t know. There weren't any overt supernatural signs pointing to angels taking over the wheel, etc. (though that would've been cool). There are several other more mundane markers of God’s providence, or a “seeing before,” to which I can point. And in the final estimation from my vantage, the compilation of these factors are just as miraculous because our survival might have hinged on Christmas day, 2003.

It was this day that my Uncle Joe gave me Need For Speed, a computer racing game programmed to be the most realistic driving game around. All the parameters of the gaming experience aim at real-time drive-and-response conditions throughout. If you jump your car or crash into a median, you feel it in your steering wheel. Conditions and reaction times are designed to mimic real world situations. I took this game home and was hooked.

I distinctly remember introducing this game to Jason, Spen’s older brother, and teaching him how to maneuver my car from the thousands of inevitable crashes and side-swipes into concrete barriers and medians so that you can control your vehicle. As foolish as this sounds, my response this day on the Interstate was the exact same response that I had taught Jason and indeed had virtually performed countless times. Every time you hit the barriers there are natural responses your car has that closely parallel the physical world. There are maneuvers you can employ to successfully “come out” of the impacts in order to stay straight....a sort of “hit-it-and-go-with-it.” The tendency for drivers to overcompensate on steering during a hydroplane or in barrier crashes is a major reason for injury and other vehicle involvement. Strangely enough, the fish-tailing, the skidding and crashing into the barrier was quite familiar. I suppose I was able to extrapolate the necessary skills from similar virtual crashes to the one we had Saturday. That’s what we joked about standing on I-75 too……”it felt like Need For Speed.”

If I think of all the contingent factors and chance factors at work in the crash and the weeks, months and years leading up to it, the mode of God’s providence starts to emerge in a fantastically creative way.

I was born into the family I had and have the uncle I have for a more apparent reason now. It is not out of the realm of possibility that God in his foresight knew the possibilities of our choosing to travel on this day, with this type of weather, with this type of car, with this type of road at this time of day with this spacing of vehicles at the time of the accident onset. You pair that with the free-will choices of the people to be on the road at the time they were, their driving skills, attentiveness, etc., and you compound the contingent factors that could have made this outcome different should any of these factors be altered.

Our emergence from this accident began one and one-half years ago when Uncle Joe gave me Need For Speed. I don’t think it is totally implausible to say that God’s providential activity bears out in this way- in the seemingly frivolous, mundane matters of our lives. Through our complex, interconnected human relationships and human freewill, he weaves together his providential and protective care like a master craftsman, weaving all the intricate threads into the stories of our lives. Most of the time, we aren't cognizant of these activities because we are always on the lookout for the "immediate miraculous." God is not God simply because he can do the miraculous. He is the Abba Father whose "thereness" on a rainy interstate on a busy Saturday afternoon began December 25th, 2003.


Anonymous said...

man i am glad you all are alright

glenn said...

yeah....i'm good...thanks for the concern