DATELINE: August 1993, Simpson County, Mississippi
She appeared out of nowhere, staring at me with her big brown eyes. Her body froze, and her eyes widened in surprise. In that split second, I knew I would plow into her. That, or swerve and go over the embankment.
It started out as an ordinary Saturday, an early drive home to my parent’s in Mississippi. They had questions about my upcoming divorce. This would be my first visit since I had told them my (then) husband had left our marriage.
The drive was peaceful – for a while. Then…
I hit her…Bambi’s mom!
She jumped into the road and looked me straight in the eyes. My brother Steve always said not to swerve, because you’d end up skidding off the road.
“Just head straight for them”, he said, “they’ll move.”
But nooooo, she didn’t. I hit the brakes, then slammed into her. My car didn’t swerve or skid, so I thought “Hey, it’s all good!” Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t really steering. The car was going where it wanted, and it wanted to hit the guard rail of the bridge. CRUNCH!
The seatbelt jerked me back, keeping me from going through the windshield. I was shaken, but alive. My car, however, was dying a slow death.
Easing myself out of the crushed vehicle, I checked the damage. It looked pretty bad.
How on earth am I going to get word to Mama and Daddy?
I couldn’t afford one of those new fangled mobile phones, and I was too far away from their house to walk. Grabbing my suitcase from the trunk, I set it a few feet behind the car. Because, you see, there was smoke coming from underneath. And a girl needs her stuff.
A Mercedes Benz pulled up. The sweet, perfectly coifed lady asked if she could help, offering her mobile bag phone. Sadly, I didn’t know how to use it. Worse still, neither did she!
“Please, ma’am, here’s my parent’s number. Could you call them when you get to a “real” phone?”
Fluid had been dripping underneath the car, causing clouds of smoke to stream heavenward. I moved my suitcase – and myself – back a safe distance. If the car exploded, I didn’t want to be nearby. And, a girl needs her stuff!
The heat coming from the car intensified, and flames were shooting up. Many people had stopped to check out the wreck and the deer. So many people crowding around. Where did they come from? There was not a house in site. This was backwoods Mississippi. The movie Deliverance came to mind, and I moved myself and my suitcase back even more.
￼The next thing I knew, a fire truck and ambulance arrived. No one had a cell phone, there were no houses around…and yet suddenly there was fire and rescue?
As the EMT patched up the brush burn from my seatbelt, a sheriff’s deputy questioned me. In the middle of my answer, I glanced up and saw two knights in shining armor – my brothers!
“Excuse me sir, those are my brothers. They’ll think I’m dead, I need to flag them down.” Because by now, half the county was out looking at the show, and my brothers wouldn’t be able to see me through the crowd! I wasn’t near my flaming car. But I had my suitcase!
It seems the sweet lady in the Mercedes had found a phone and called my parents. They sent my brothers to the rescue.
Here’s what I found out from my brother, who had inspected the car (and also told me not to swerve to avoid hitting a deer):
1. The deer meat was not salvageable. I hit her so hard that the meat was, well, mush. Seriously? My car was billowing black smoke, and they were concerned about food?
2. Bambi’s mom saved my life. She had lodged between my front wheels, keeping me from spinning out of control and off the road into the gulley. The deer I killed saved my life. How’s that for irony? Funny, all that time I thought I was doing some wonderful Mario Andretti driving. Turns out, I wasn’t in control at all.
Life is like that sometimes. We’re cruising along, and WHAM! Life happens, and a crushing blow is dealt. We’re hanging on, carrying our bags through those flames of life, and we think we’re doing a pretty good job. After the fire has died down, and we’re able to see clearly again, we realize we weren’t in control at all. God was. His grace and mercy got us through.
“and finally He said to me, ‘My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9a (The Voice)
And those heavy suitcases we carry? Well, sometimes we just need to let our baggage drop and burn.
“…the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight towards the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.’ Philippians 3:13-14, GNT
I’m finding that when I let go of control and dump my baggage, THEN I can hold on to the peace of Christ. Won’t you join me?
Grace be with you,