The loud BONK! jarred me to my senses.
Except that it shouldn’t have. My senses should have been operating.
I was driving home on Sunday afternoon, after a stressful and draining week and a (as usual) cheerful and enriching Sunday morning. I was wide awake when I left the church. Not so much, when I was approaching the bridge into Kentucky.
I think that, in a drowsy state, I had veered just slightly into the other lane, where I hit another car. At least, I think I hit another car. The BONK seemed to tell me that. I slowed down, pulled over, came to a stop, and waited for that black car to stop behind me. But as I came to a stop, that black car and all the other cars just drove on by. I waited on the freeway shoulder, for the car to turn around and come back, or for a police car to stop, but I was alone.
When I got home, I looked at what happened to my car. This was it: The rear mirror was pushed in, the way you push in the mirror when you don’t want it to stick out into the street.
I was lucky. Or more honestly, I was careless and HE was lucky. Some people would say that “God was looking out for you,” or “God protected you.”
But although it’s nice to hear that “God is with me”—and that is true—I resist the thought that I am safe because God cares for me and protected me. Because then I ask, “Does that mean that God did not want to protect the family in the car that was hit head-on by a drunken driver going the wrong way on the freeway last week? What about them?”
It’s good to get our theology straight. Being careless about our beliefs about God may make us veer off into the wrong theological lane. I know that God was with me on Sunday afternoon, but God was not driving the car, steering it away from a deadly collision. That’s my job, and it’s important to keep the distinction.
The next evening, I hit a deer. But God was with her, because when I swerved, I think I only grazed her. (See how easy it is to get “theologically dislocated,” so to speak? When in doubt, just remember: God loves us, no matter what.
The Rev. Joanna Leiserson+