Staring into the gaping ebony skies of Swaziland one tends to feel small. The canopy that He hung above our eyes prompts one to think more about His sovereignty and less about the problems that seem as unrelenting as the wind atop of the mountains here at El Shaddai.
Laying on the grass, gazing upward, my thoughts illuminate as much as the clusters of light that reside delicately above. The events and faces that have filled my life are as vivid in my mind as these brilliant stars that sprinkle the cool night sky.
On this night however, the bundles of light that ordinarily catch my eye drown out periodically,
The deep black abyss that normally captivate and humble my soul are replaced by blinking orange halogen bulbs.
The hazard lights emitting from nearly a dozen vehicles surrounding the scene reveal my friend standing above me.
“Are you OK? Are you hurt anywhere?” Ben (Wilcoxson) asks firmly.
The light dissipates.
“I’m alright. My knee… My back hurts. But I’m ok.”
Ben pats me down briefly and then moves behind me closer towards the scene.
Lights flash continuously throughout my time on the ground. The sides of my eyes steadily remind me of what unfolded minutes ago.
Despite having some difficulty catching my breath, I tell myself that twenty feet from me someone I never met may not be conscious, let alone breathing.
I lie ten kilometers from my home for the month
Minutes prior, I sat, worry free, editing a video on my laptop as we entered the bend of the right turn that would forever alter my life and perspective.
Unbeknownst to me and my teammates, around the turn a drunk driver’s car was set to careen into our truck.
In the aftermath, my Father in Heaven speaks to me.
“I saved you.”
“I protected you.”
“Do you see?”
I remind myself that I can move; that I can feel.
I remind myself I am alive.
Tyler drops my pack near me so I can do a brief inventory.
After a few minutes, I sit up, doing my best to turn around. Yet my joints and muscles are not permitting me to move about as freely as I was prior to our collision.
Reaching behind, I pull my bag towards me and place my scattered items into the pack. I remove a shard of glass about two inches in diameter from my daypack and toss it to the floor.
“That doesn’t belong here,” I say to myself.
I close my pack, slowly getting up in an effort to keep stress off my left shoulder and back.
I’m finally able to survey the scene through the incessant flashes of hazard lights. I notice the asphalt is coated with hundreds of fragments from what were the windows and windshield of the opposing vehicle.
Still in shock, I try to focus my thoughts into prayers, asking the Lord to save the man pinned in what is left of his vehicle.
I head about 30 feet towards the only car in our caravan unaffected by the accident.
Charmain, the project director and founder of El Shaddai Ministries reaches out for my hand from the back seat and asks…
“Are you alright?”
My reply is incoherent. Refusing to let go of my hand she asks me to sit inside her car and rest.
“You’re in shock,” she says softly.
Taking the blanket she offers me, I try covering myself not only with the warmth it offers, but with the frame of mind my Father in Heaven wants me to have.
Sitting inside the vehicle I notice the silhouettes of cars and people amidst the faint orange hazard lights. I look through the open door noticing Tyler and Bret direct traffic in an effort to prevent another accident.
I shift my focus toward the vehicles sitting on the side of the road. I gaze into the pulsating lights attempting to pace myself.
I focus on breathing.
With each flash of light, with each breath, I think of a different loved one.
I think of my father.
I want see him. I want to feel his embrace, hear his voice, and thank him for protecting me the times that he could. I want to tell him how much I appreciate everything he has strived for on my behalf.
I envision myself coming out of the terminal back in Miami, seeing my father’s face, hearing him finally tell me that he loves me as I stand comforted in his arms.
I begin to tear up, thankful that the lights are dim enough for only my Father in Heaven to see.
My mind shifts to my mother and the lines of her face. I long to feel her arms around my back and rest her head against my chest.
I bite my lips, holding back what needs to erupt out of my soul. Water fills the crevices of my eyes just enough for tears to roll down my cheeks.
I want to be near my family.
I want to hold them.
I think of friends, ministry contacts, and others I have met on the race.
I think of the orphans I’ve held in Romania, the HIV infected children here in El Shaddai, and the aging villagers that I prayed with months ago in the Dominican Republic.
I want to see and hold every single person that I have met and tell them I love them.
I want to look them in the eyes, tell them how marvelous they are; how beautiful God has crafted them, and hold them till they realize how much those three words are meant for them.
I think of the conversations that I have yet to have with these people, and I want to desperately find them all, and express what I have not been able to share as of yet. I want to speak every word that gives and breathes life into their hearts.
I want to tell these people that God is good. That His will and plan, regardless of what happens in the immediate, is flawless and perfect.
I want everyone I know to mirror this perspective.
I sit looking on, shedding tears for my Father to wipe away. Looking up, I thank Him for saving me.
The stars, like our lives, are held together purposefully.
I am in His firm, yet delicate, grip.
A night later, I am thankful that I can write this entry, that I can be in the comfort of a candle lit living room with my brothers, sharing my thoughts.
Had we reached the bend a second later, I could have had shared the drunk driver’s fate and died on a hospital bed in a third world country away from so many people I hold dear to my heart.
It could have been my family mourning the loss of their son.
Instead, I sit here with only slight chest pains and minor bruises, after a worship session in Charmain’s home and thank my Savior for the breath He has given me one more time.
Life is but a flash, a blink, a mere breath…
I am thankful for the life I have.