The following is a summary of a sermon presented to Akron Alliance Fellowship Church on June 8, 2008.
There was a time when I used to hear a prayer to God about travel mercies and I would truly believe that it was a prayer without relevance. It’s not that I felt that it was completely unnecessary, but I was making the conclusion that such a prayer was redundant in its nature because of our reliance upon God in the areas of our life that required our worship and His grace. To pray for something specific such as travel mercy, or to get from place to place in a car or an airplane safely, just seemed all too trite. God’s ability to protect, preserve and keep us was understood, I thought. Well, it is easy to be a “Monday morning quarterback” and conclude that the thinking was incorrect (and it was), but God had to show me another lesson about His sovereign nature and how travel mercy would take on an entirely different meaning to me…after the morning of Tuesday, April 29, 2008.
Driving back home after dropping my wife off at work, the traffic on I-480 was slower than normal as I approached the construction zone, and it happened to come to a complete stop for a moment. I stopped behind a GMC SUV and noted that a Chevrolet Avalanche pulled behind me and came to a stop. As I looked forward waiting for traffic to move…three seconds later, there was this huge impact that I felt from behind…BAM!! Immediately the window glass shattered and was showered all around me throughout the car. I exclaimed out loud “WHOA!” and just gripped the steering wheel while the car was being pushed and shoved about by something that had to be large, but I could not see anything outside of the car. There was more glass breaking and metal crunching that I heard along with two more hard impacts, and, while still hanging onto the steering wheel with both hands, was pushed along for what had to be 8 to 10 seconds. In the midst of all of this, I was wondering if there was going to be a final large impact that would wipe me out. I thought to myself and impulsively thought to God asking, “Is this it?” I wasn’t freaking out about it, because there was really no time to freak out. The time was moving quickly and yet very slowly at the same time, and there was this mysterious mist that enveloped the car and prevented me from seeing anything on the outside. It was a perfectly clear and sunny day outside, yet the mist that covered my car was more like a thick fog. I just held on while the car was being pushed about…and waited for whatever was going to happen next…one way or the other.
After the longest 8 to 10 seconds, the pushing finally stopped. The fog over the car was gone in an instant, and I my hands were still gripped to the steering wheel. I looked out over the freeway off to the left, and I could see the flatbed tractor trailer that was carrying a roll of steel about 250 feet in front of me off to the left side with its driver running towards me. He ran up to the car and asked me “Are you OK? Are you alright?” I answered “I think so…” Inside my car there was glass everywhere, including on my lap in the driver’s seat and all around the front passenger areas. I opened the driver’s side door and stepped out of the car. Amazingly, I barely had a scratch on me. I was able to walk away from the car with no injuries. The driver’s side door, including the window, received no damage and remained operable. As I looked around the car, it was the only part of the car that was not damaged. The front end of the car was completely demolished from the series of collisions. The rear of the car no longer had a trunk because it was completely destroyed. The trunk compartment was pushed into the back seat of the car. The passenger side of the car, including the door, was also severely damaged. The glass in the back and on the passenger side was smashed out. The front window was cracked but it never broke, and the glass on the driver’s side (where I was sitting) never sustained even a crack. The car had literally been pushed about 150 feet from where it was to its final resting point. The truck loaded with steel, I found out later, caused the accident. The truck driver claimed to the police that he had lost his brakes, and had crashed into me along with two other vehicles. Of the four vehicles involved, my car clearly got the worst of it. The freeway was shut down for half an hour.
I called my wife with my cell phone about 2 minutes after the accident from where I was standing on the freeway and likely alarmed her at first because I was not making a lot of sense at that point. I was truly surprised and amazed that I was able to make the call to her. I told her that I was OK but the car was gone. After a few more minutes of calls to her and also to her mother while on the side of the freeway, I tried to also reassure them that I was OK and that I could likely be seen on TV because there was a helicopter overhead taking pictures for the morning news.
When the police, fire truck and ambulance arrived, the officers, firefighters and paramedics asked “were you in that car?” I told them yes and they stated, “that certainly is a testimony to how they make Saturns.” I responded “that may be, but I’m blessed and thankful to God to still be here.” They got the message, and the testimonies of God’s care and grace were now beginning for the day and would continue for several days thereafter. One of the police officers called me later to try to complete his report about the accident, and he told me that I was truly blessed. I thanked him for his kind words, and as a result of what happened that day I no longer believe that prayers for “travel mercy” are trivial and unnecessary.
What I learned from the experience was confirmation to me that God’s granting of travel mercies is part of His nature in His ongoing expression of love and care of His children. I was reminded of many things, but especially the unconditional love that God has for His people. In addition, God loves not just those people He calls His children through salvation, but also those who are not following the Lord. Each and every one of us was under that category as a human being at one time in our lives, and yet, God protected us and kept us in order to bring us to the day when we were compelled to make the decision to live for Jesus Christ. Please note that God, according to His will, desires for each and every one of us to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Our prayers for travel mercies and general protection are valuable because they are in lockstep with God’s will for every living human being.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God’s desire is for everyone to know the truth. We are to pray for believers and unbelievers, for people of high and low stature, for people who are in authority and for those who are commoners, as it is God’s will that all are to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Our prayers are pleasing to God because of how much He loves us and how, when we are communicating with Him and fellowshipping with Him, we are acting in accordance to His will.
It is not a stretch to conclude; therefore, that to be alive in Jesus Christ is to be a part of the expression of God’s will for you here on earth. We are given his protection and the protection of His angels to continue to fulfill His will and purpose here on earth. For those who do not know the Lord yet, it is God’s desire for those persons to make a decision for Christ. God is longsuffering for His people, and He has demonstrated that He is patient.
2 Peter 3:8-9
Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: with the Lord one day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
An example of God’s longsuffering and patience with us is how God gives us His protection. He nurtures us in the midst of His protection with gentleness and kindness.
He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment, He gently leads those that are nursing.
The description here reflects God as a loving and nurturing shepherd who gently leads us through the trials and tribulations of life. In turn, when we are focused on the Lord, relying on His protection, we can see His comfort and rest in Him in both the good times and the difficult times:
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.
We have seen God’s love and patience for us, and He preserves and protects us because He has something wonderful in store for us. We live for the incredible opportunity to worship and serve Jesus Christ. There is no greater call, and no greater honor than to be in service for Him. God not only preserves us and protects us, but gives us power through the Holy Spirit to serve Him and carry out His will.
2 Timothy 1:8-9
So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
God has given us His holy calling for His will and purpose, and amazingly, in our desire to serve Him and be in service for Him, His will and purpose become our own purpose as we, in fellowship with Him, want to do nothing more than be in His will.
I delight to do Your will, my God; Your instruction resides within me.
We live for God because He has a purpose for us in this lifetime. He wants us to focus on Him first, and in doing so we will be “spot on” with His will and in discovering our purpose in Him.
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
We worship the Lord with our service in whatever we do for Him, and in doing so we can discover our purpose. We only need to look to the gifts that God has given us where we can be of service to him within the body of believers; the body of Christ:
Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of faith; if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.
God loves us so much that he desires for all of us to be saved and to have a relationship with Him. He holds us and keeps us with His divine gentleness and kindness, and He protects us and preserves us as He holds our lives in His hands. He gives us the number of days that He desires for us to have in His sovereign nature, and not one day less than that time as we, in our service for Him and according to His will, have fulfilled His purpose.
God’s protection is not a “guarantee” because we cannot begin to know everything about God. We can, however, be assured that God is pleased in us when we sincerely demonstrate our faith and trust in Him.
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.