It was early fall in Denver. A bright sunny morning gave way to an afternoon drizzle. A storm front rolled over the continental divide, bringing with it a dramatic reduction in temperature. Concerned for my staff, I closed the office early and sent everyone home. The drizzle changed to freezing rain, then ultimately to blowing snow. The roads became skating rinks instead of pavement. I took one last call and made a few notes in files before locking up for the night. I quickly called Elaine to let her know I was on my way but might be delayed by the worsening traffic due to the storm.
I almost made it home.
On a two-lane stretch of road, with a freezing lake on my right, my little Subaru was in full four-wheel-drive, trudging through the wind and slick roads, fighting for traction. “Almost home,” I said to myself. I saw a pair of headlights coming over the horizon in front of me. They were from a clunky Oldsmobile—exactly the kind of car a parent buys for his daughter with a newly minted license and no experience. It’s insurance that doesn’t come from a policy, but rather the sheer size and weight. The adolescent girl had never driven in snow or ice before and tonight was a challenge even for native veterans of the rocky mountain region.
The headlights started to move right and left, to and fro, like a lighthouse cutting through the thick fog of an intensifying storm. The inexperienced driver had lost control of her beast. She tried to slow her car down by hitting the brake. I watched this happen as if in slow motion. I saw her coming down that hill more than a quarter of a mile away. I got off my accelerator pedal to gently ease my little Subaru onto the shoulder of the road, trying to slow down. Not wanting to leave the road and ditch into the lake, I thought my best course of action was to try to make as much room for her as possible, hoping she would miss me.
Her car was now a football field away, still skidding. I was on the narrow shoulder, feeling the gravel under my right-side tires and icy pavement under my left. In an act of desperation and panic, the young girl made the worst possible error. Flooring the accelerator, attempting to blast past me and miss my car, her beast smashed into my car head on.
My family was sitting down to a belated dinner and could hear the sirens wail while they ate. The phone call came during dishwashing, asking them to come to Saint Anthony Hospital. Fighting nausea, they climbed into the family minivan, heading for the hospital. They drove right past the scene of the crash. The dented beast of the Oldsmobile and the annihilated Subaru with the glass broken out of it still on the road. “Hey Mom, isn’t that Dad’s car?” Nausea intensified and the car got silent. No bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven this time. Sometimes we are just left to manage trauma on our own, but God is sovereign even in uncontrollable events.
I lost the last two disks in my back, three months of memory, and over a year of sound sleep.
God saved me that night—God, my Subaru, and the people who invented airbag technology. This was my fifth of six near-death experience in my 61 years of life. I am here for a reason. You are now part of that reason. The Kingdom of Heaven is closer than we think.
Steve digs deeper into the emotional facet of the Kingdom of Heaven with a young screenwriter who experienced a Bubble of the Kingdom of Heaven for the first time.