What Just Happened?

Sometimes we’re driving down the highway of life when suddenly, without warning, we experience the sudden crash we didn’t see coming.  Whether we are hit from behind or become distracted by life’s circumstances, we suddenly experience an impact we can’t avoid.  Sometimes we can see the danger around us and avoid it, and sometimes, due to lack of awareness, we find ourselves experiencing the sudden collision that happens when two moving objects strike violently against each other.

CollisionThe bad thing about collisions is that they shake us violently.  We feel the force of two hard objects making impact and it can leave painful damage behind.  Immediately the questions come.

What just happened? Where did that come from? Did I do something wrong? Am I okay? Are they okay? What do I do now? How was I driving along just fine and now I’m not fine?

We assess the damage.  We wait for help to arrive and try to find our way through the mess.  Sometimes our vehicle is driveable but is dented, cracked, and in need of repair.  Sometimes it’s so bad that it has to be towed away while we have to be transported to a place for assessment and healing.

We feel terrible if the collision was our fault.  We feel scared.  We punish ourselves and replay it over and over in our mind.  If we were in our own lane and doing all that we should to follow the laws of the road, we might feel angry and afraid.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to me.

In the midst of the crash, we immediately begin to reconstruct the events leading up to the crash.  We look to assign fault, place blame.  Repairs will have to be made and we want that process to be fair.

Collisions are emotional experiences.  They shake up both sides because both parties have experienced the impact.

Sometimes when people experience a collision it’s obvious what has gone wrong, but one of the parties who is at fault is in a state of obvious denial.  There will be no admitting of guilt.  Sometimes we, the other party, or even both will angrily blame the other person or calmly deny the obvious in a blatant refusal to see the truth.  There is always a price to be paid for our decisions good and bad, but facing the truth and accepting the consequences can be very distressing to us. Why is this so difficult for each of us in our moments of failure?

If we are honest with ourselves, denial begins early.  During my own moments of inner turmoil where I have found myself retreating from the truth, memories return of being a child in trouble and standing before my mom.  Those feelings of failure run deep.

It’s especially hard to face the truth when we hurt someone.  We feel like terrible people, and the shame can be so deep and so painful that we avoid bringing resolution to the situation.  Perhaps we caused the crash because we weren’t as aware of our surroundings as we should be.  Perhaps we veered into the wrong lane emotionally to avoid something coming into our path but failed to see that we were entering into the path of another.

Why do we deny the truth? Perhaps we can’t bear what admitting the truth says about us.  When our value and worth are so closely tied to our performance and we perform poorly by hurting someone, what does that say about us?

Feeling the Impact

Sometimes self-condemning thoughts accompany these collisions such as, “I’m stupid” or “I’m so careless.”  Words like “selfish, irresponsible, dangerous to others” strike hard and fast at our identity.  Shame is a powerful force that doesn’t just say, “this is what I did.” Instead, it says “this is who I am.”  To avoid feelings of shame, we will deny and avoid looking too closely inside ourselves.  It’s just TOO painful.

The good news is that God wants to enter into these places of deep impact and where there have been dents and scars. He desires to bring restoration.

He knows how to smooth out the damage on both vehicles.  He’s good at taking what is damaged and broken – seemingly beyond repair – to bring full restoration and healing if we are only willing to place ourselves in His hands.

Why didn’t He stop the crash? Why did He let it happen? Is it possible that there are things He wants to teach us in the midst of our collisions? Yes, it would be better had the collision never occurred, but that’s beside the point now.  We know that we have many moments of collision in our life and now this latest moment is bringing so much to the surface.  The impact shook stuff loose and now God desires to take these places to create beauty in the midst of the pain.

Rescue from the Collision

I find the meaning of the word “rescue” very interesting when considering the intensity of the impact a collision can produce.

“Rescue” – History and Etymology


Middle English rescouen, rescuen, from Anglo-French rescure, from re- + escure to shake off, from Latin excutere, from ex- + quatere to shake

: to free from confinement, danger, or evil : SAVEDELIVER

a: to take (someone, such as a prisoner) forcibly from custody
b: to recover (something, such as a prize) by force
c: to deliver (a place under siege by armed force)

RESCUEDELIVERREDEEMRANSOMRECLAIMSAVE mean to set free from confinement or danger. RESCUE implies freeing from imminent danger by prompt or vigorous action. // rescued the crew of a sinking ship // DELIVER implies release usually of a person from confinement, temptation, slavery, or suffering. // delivered his people from bondage // REDEEM implies releasing from bondage or penalties by giving what is demanded or necessary. // job training designed to redeem school dropouts from chronic unemployment // RANSOM specifically applies to buying out of captivity. // tried to ransom the kidnap victim // RECLAIM suggests a bringing back to a former state or condition of someone or something abandoned or debased. // reclaimed long-abandoned farms // SAVE may replace any of the foregoing terms; it may further imply a preserving or maintaining for usefulness or continued existence. // an operation that saved my life //

Reflecting on the meaning of this word, “rescue,” I wonder if we sometimes neglect to recognize God rescuing us from lies long buried deep; lies that can only be worked to the surface in moments of collision.

At some point, truth is going to collide with lies and when that happens, what will we do in those moments?

What if both parties could be brave enough to examine their hearts and place themselves and the other party in God’s hands? What if each side could submit to an honest examination of their heart by God their maker and trust Him to work in the life of the other party?

What if we see the junk in the other person’s life?  Could we be trust God enough to deal with what we discover? Or what if He is calling us to speak His truth in love to the other party?  Could we even be brave enough to risk another collision?

God’s process of working in our lives is not always neat and tidy.  Sometimes it can even feel a little bit violent as He allows the negative circumstances in our lives to occur and work through us.  He never wastes our pain if we will surrender it to Him to use.  He longs to rescue us from the pain of blame and victimization which hold us captive and reveal His deep love for us, making it safe for us to admit our failures.

He longs to remove us from the confines of our defensive positions and usher us into wide open spaces where we can run in freedom with Him as our protector.

After a collision, we might feel like we don’t want to get behind the wheel of a car again for fear of hurting or being hurt, but sooner or later we all have to move beyond the fear of another collision to keep driving down the highway of this journey we’re all traveling through with the Lord.

Our Prayer

Father God, give me eyes to see what You are shaking loose in my life.  Help me to see that I am loved even in the midst of receiving your discipline.  You are not condemning and punishing me.  Rather, you are freeing me from every false belief that the enemy of my soul would seek to use to hold me captive.  Give me a humble heart and such an assurance of your love that I can take an honest look at my faults, my areas of sin, and repent of these places holding me back from stepping into the fullness of being your child.

You are my strong tower, my ever present help in times of trouble.  Help me to withstand the enemy’s attempts to bring offense and bitterness into my heart.  Give me eyes to see what You are working up to the surface of my heart during life’s “collisions” and a heart of humility to place the ugly things I so often don’t want to acknowledge on the alter before you.  May my obedience and heartfelt repentance be a pleasing sacrifice to you oh God!

In Jesus’ Name,

Scriptures for Meditation

God Works In All Things
(Ephesians 1:3-14 NIV)

28) And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. 29) For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30) And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
31) What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32) He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things? 33) Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34) Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God—and He is interceding for us.

More Than Conquerors
(Psalm 44:1-26 NIV)

35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36) As it is written:
“For Your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 12 (NIV)
1) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2) fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3) Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

God Disciplines His Children

4) In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5) And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6) because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” a
7) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8) If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10) They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12) Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13) “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Warning and Encouragement

14) Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15) See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16) See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17) Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

18) You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19) to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20) because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21) The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
22) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23) to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24) to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25) See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26) At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27) The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28) Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29) for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Psalm 51:17 NIV
17) My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

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