It was the kind of phone call we all dread. My wife called and said “I wrecked the car, you’ll have to come and get me”. My heart raced as I asked for more detail. I gathered up my three kids and headed for the crash site. By the grace of God, my wife had only minor injuries.
Before long, there was a fire truck, police and an ambulance. All surrounding two cars that violently met in the middle of the road. The elderly driver of the other car had failed to yield to my wife and hit her head on. His grown daughter was protected on the passenger side by airbags exploding and keeping her from the windshield. The seat belt saved my wife from hitting the steering wheel.
As my wife and I stood on the side of the road watching the professionals clean up, my attention turned to the man who caused the accident.
He was still standing in the middle of the wreckage, by himself. Emergency personal swirled around him while he was the only one stationary. His pregnant daughter had been rushed off to the emergency room to make sure mom and baby were without injury. And there he stood, in the middle of the mess he created. I then felt compelled to go over and speak to him. I didn’t want to, but I’ve learned to listen to that inner voice.
I went up to the man and extended my hand to his. I told him that we were glad he was okay, and that we would be praying for his daughter. I was overwhelmed with compassion for him, and I’m not sure why. His mistake could have cost someone’s life. My wife’s. His daughter’s. His.
There was no discussion of whose fault it was. In those few moments of talking a midst the chaos, it didn’t matter. We were both relieved that no one died. But I sensed a weight on his shoulders as we spoke. He was the one responsible for what happened that day. But criticism and blame was not in my heart.
In the midst of the mess we easily make of our lives, God wants to deliver us from those messes. He doesn’t delight in rubbing our noses in our mistakes. We make our own messes, in our own way, to be sure. None of us are that far from disaster; addictions we don’t intend to give power to. Relationships we never meant to destroy. Mistakes we never meant to make. Lies we tell to cover the ugly truth. Paths we never intended to go down but here we are; unable to turn it around on our own. But it is in our ugly realities that Jesus is present, and wanting to help.
God’s nature, as shown through Christ Jesus, does not minimize what we’ve done or the wreckage we’ve caused. He is about truth after all. But to love and forgive is also a part of truth. The truth of our Savior Christ Jesus, regardless of how we’ve screwed things up.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mathew 11:29 NKJV