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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Will this be the last Christmas: A wooden cross on the highway

              
Will this be the last Christmas?: A wooden cross on the highway

Pastor Bob Tousey



        A few weeks ago, I was a passenger in a car traveling on northbound Interstate 95 approaching the exit for Route 100 in Howard County, Maryland. As I was looking upon the grassy median, I started to wonder—why wasn't there a wooden cross situated on the side of the road with my name on it? I realize to some; this might appear to be a strange question-- mainly since I am alive, and a wooden cross often represents a scene of a fatal car accident. Being alive at that moment, for me, was indeed a mystery.

So, please, allow me to rewind time for just a moment as I explain an incident that occurred on  October 8, 2017, at about 8:30 p.m. On this evening, I was driving my car on 95 North. All of the sudden, for reasons unknown, my car went out of control. The next memory is of a paramedic treating me. It all happened in a matter of seconds, I had just gotten on 95, and I was traveling at the posted speed limit, and the road was clear. Despite traveling the speed limit and having a clear roadway, my car was spinning out of control, and my last memory was a white SUV passing me. My only thought was "this is not going to end well." I do not recall impact or being extracted from my car, but I do recall that brief moment of clarity in the ambulance.  This brief moment of allowed me the opportunity to identify a familiar face of the paramedic treating me.  I recalled her face from my previous ministry as a Chaplain for the Howard Country Fire and Rescue. Just as quickly as I regained consciousness, I lost it again, only to wake up at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma.

As I had awakened again, I was greeted by a Maryland State Trooper.  I was very disoriented, but the conversation with the trooper I recall very well.  The trooper commented that he was happy to have the ability to speak with me. You see, the trooper explained that from the appearance of the accident scene he did not think I was going to be alive.  From the pictures, it was evident this accident was significant, but fortunately for me, I only sustained six broken bones, and I was spared from having any permeant injuries. The best news of all is that my injuries did not require surgery. However, my injuries were severe enough that I was admitted for five weeks of medical treatment and rehabilitation. 

After speaking to my pastor  on the phone, I explained to him that Jesus stood between me and the tractor trailer. My pastor being the clever and quick-witted person that he is stated, "You should have let Jesus drive." If, I may, please let me share some of the history of my pastor's statement.  For those that are not familiar, this accident was not the first time I had dodged death or serious injury. You see, twenty years earlier—just a few miles away from the above location on Route 100 West, I was travelling in a car on westbound route 100, and I saw a car from the eastbound side jump over the median and into westbound traffic. My initial thought was that death was on the horizon, so I closed my eyes, I held on tight and uttered to myself, "Jesus, help me." Jesus responded by diverting the collision and my life was spared. As I describe this experience, I always refer to Carrie Underwood's song, Jesus take the wheel, and fortunately for me "Jesus, took the wheel." Jesus is the only way to explain how this potential tragedy was avoided. My testimony concerning this experience is available on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AabAbkWSamI.

I must wonder--why God chose to spare me on multiple occasions, yet others are not so blessed. I may never know the exact reason why, but as we are taught in the Book of Job, only God sees the whole picture and has a complete understanding of His plan. Often, we may never understand why life unfolds the way it does, but I have to remember that God has a plan and a purpose for my life, and all of our lives. All I can do is be open to that plan and be willing to do what God calls me to do. I pray each day for the Holy Spirit to guide me towards that plan and for the ability to carry it out in a manner that honors and glorifies God.

I began this story by sharing how God has shown me grace and mercy throughout my life. I am far from a perfect person and have fallen to temptation, but each time God has extended me grace. For this, I am eternally grateful. I recognize that each day is a gift from God and that I must treasure it as such. May God bless each of you reading this, and I encourage you to improve those strained relationships in your life and to use this Christmas season as a time to repair those relationships, while you have the opportunity. Most importantly, invite loved ones over, hug them, and tell them how much you love them. One thing I realize, more so, than ever is that this life can change in a second. Don't live it with regrets, because you never took the opportunity to repair those relationships. I say this with all sincerity that you cannot take life for granted because this might be the last opportunity you have to celebrate Christmas with them. Celebrate the birth of Jesus by reconciling with others, show them love and grace. God bless each of you and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


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