This morning, around 10am, I was helping my friend Rush Stuart with the TV he had just purchased. We were in a very busy section of town, where there are many electronic stores. Many people and cars and motorcycles and buses and three-wheel Asian contraptions were going every which way. People were crossing streets talking on cell phones and carrying obscene amounts of “stuff” everywhere. It was a typical Asian street scene. In a word, chaotic.
After 11 years here, I have gotten used to scenes such as this. Actually, I have become impervious to them. They aren’t stressful or exciting or strange or colorful; they just are. This morning was a scene such as this. A scene I have lived in for much of my last 11 years.
Anyway. . . as Rush and I walked to cross this chaotic street, Rush in back and I in front, we were carrying his new TV to my car. Nothing unusual. Then. . .
Bam! In a split second, everything changed.
Fear electrified my spine, as my eyes quickly fixed upon a car which had taken a sudden turn and was headed directly towards me. There was instant terror as the male driver, probably in his early 30s, had his head down, looking at who knows what as his car, maybe 10 yards in front of me, was not slowing down as it pressed in upon my quickly tensing body.
First thing in my mind; “he doesn’t even know I am here!!!”
Second thing in my mind; “in 5 more yards, jump!”
These two thoughts were racing through my mind as this car with the potential to ruin my day and destroy Rush’s brand new TV was quickly closing in.
In that EXACT moment, the driver’s head shot up, he looked terrified, and his car came to an immediate stop. I didn’t have to jump, but I literally had my hand on his red rood as it came to a final stop.
I was not pleased. I resisted the urge to slam my hand on his hood. Instead I gave him a very, um, stern look as I gathered myself, checked to make sure my shorts were still dry, and stared holes through his equally terrified looking face.
Thinking about this “near death experience”, two principles in life come to mind. The first is practical and the second is more of a “big picture” perspective.
The first principle here is simple. . . when we prepare for unexpected, yet feasible calamity, we have a much better chance of getting through said calamity with little to no damage.
You see, I was able to react immediately with the thought of JUMP simply because I had rehearsed that exact scenario in my head many times over the years. I know this sounds crazy, but in a country such as this, getting hit by a car is a real and present danger pretty much every time you leave your apartment. People are everywhere and so are vehicles of every variety. Moreover, legitimate crosswalks are few and far between. Throw these together and “accidents” are the norm.
I have known several friends to get hit in similar situations. Each time, they had the forethought to jump at the last moment. Instead of being run over, they are merely thrown up on the hood or windshield. Sounds rough, but it really is no big deal most of the time.
Honestly, the driver almost always pays the bigger price, as the victim will usually crush the windshield and walk away with only a few cuts.
Though it would have been a little rough, I honestly think had the car hit me, it would have been of little consequence. He was driving slow. I would have jumped, thrown a shoulder forward, and would have been fine for lunch in two hours.
So the principle here is clear. Preparation pays off. In this case, I had often coached myself for this exact calamitous scenario. Though it did not come to fruition, I do believe had the driver not looked up, I would have been fine. I would have simply jumped, landed on his windshield, and walked away with a new story to tell at dinner parties.
Actually, Rush later joked that he wished the car had hit me. It would have freaked out the irresponsible driver and left him with bill of a damaged car as a reminder. I’m not as vindictive, apparently, as I was just happy to “punish” the guy with the terror I’m sure he experienced from the intimidating scowl I gave him.
The second principle I am thinking about here is regarding the Bible. I see reading the Bible regularly as analogous to this first principle.
Life is filled with ups and downs. Temptations of all kinds lurk around every corner. At the very least, it’s easy to simply allow ourselves to creep into a self-centered, purposeless existence.
The Bible is our ongoing “preparation” for all that life can and will throw at us.
An example of this which has touched me this week has been through the lives of Craig and Tracey Clarke. Since the mid-90s, Craig has studied and lived out the Bible with vigor. Tracey is the same. Their lives took an unexpected turn in July 2011 with Tracey’s diagnosis of glioblastoma. However, their “preparation” for this true calamity was well grounded in their love for and study of the Bible.
If you have not already, read this post Craig wrote on Friday regarding their latest diagnosis. This is a perfect example of the benefits and even necessity of living daily with the Bible as a constant companion.
I wrote this article, 7 reasons I need (and want) to read the Bible daily, as a follow-up to this article.