FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK: I was really looking forward to what I was going to be doing that morning. It was Thursday, January 5 and our church was in charge of the give-out at the Food Pantry. I always enjoy those days because whatever you do there, you know you’re helping other people and most of them are very appreciative of that. After I give the opening devotion, I typically help with carrying out the boxes and baskets to peoples’ cars. I knew I needed to be extra careful this particular morning because we had snow the night before and I didn’t want to slip and fall. All went well and though the crowd was much smaller than normal because of the snow, everyone was served and got to take home lots of food items, including whole boxes of nacho chips and popcorn with pickle flavoring. I have to confess that I requested one of those bags of popcorn for myself because I like popcorn and I like dill pickles and I was just intrigued to see what they would taste like together.
After everyone was through the line I grabbed my Bible and headed out the door so I could get back to the church and do some much-needed work in my office. But such was not to be! For when I arrived at my car which was parked across the street from and a bit west of the Community Center I discovered my left rear tail light, fender, quarter panel, and bumper had found themselves on the receiving end of someone’s right front fender and the damage was quite substantial. Needless to say, my initial reaction was one of shock, confusion, and then frustration. I say frustration because I thought that whoever did it would at least have the decency to leave a note so I could contact them and their insurance could take care of things, but unfortunately there was no such note. It was a hit and run. So I called 911 and they immediately dispatched an officer who arrived about 10 minutes later, assessed the situation, and then wrote out an accident report. While he was doing that, I got on the phone with my insurance company and started the ball rolling on that end. I was given a claim number and a contact person with whom I would be working. I drove my stricken vehicle to Landers Body Shop and they did an estimate of the damages which I thought would probably be in the neighbor-hood of $3000 since none of the really expensive stuff under the hood was affected, so needless to say my mouth dropped open when I was informed that the damages came to $6700 with more probably forthcoming once they got into the actual repair work. Then when I found out that I would have to pay the $500 deductible and would probably see an increase in my rates since the one who was at fault either didn’t have insurance or didn’t want to have this accident go on his record, need I tell you that I was not very happy about it?
But after I had time to assess the whole situation rather than just react, I began to develop a much different perspective. Kind of like what happened with a well-known Bible scholar from years ago named Matthew Henry. One day a thief robbed him of his wallet. After processing what happened here’s what he wrote: “Let me be thankful, first, because he never robbed me before; second, because although he took my purse, he did not take my life; third, because although he took all I possessed, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” So adopting a similar mind-set, my perspective changed in 3 areas:
- The area of gratitude. I realized I had so much to be thankful for. I was grateful for my insurance which would cover the vast majority of the cost and that I had the money to cover the remainder. I was especially grateful that my policy provides for car rental in case of an accident. I was grateful for how quickly the process went. Within only a couple hours of contacting my insurance company I had a very nice car to drive while mine would be worked on. In addition to that, Landers would be starting the repairs as soon as my insurance sent out an independent adjuster. But my perspective of gratitude really blossomed over the next couple of days when I found myself visiting some of our members like Leroy Hanke who has been in the nursing home for 6 months and Jeff Stephenson who was involved in a very serious car accident the day after my incident happened and Shelly Young who was scheduled for bypass surgery the following week. In other words, my problems were nothing compared to what they and so many others like them were going through.
- The area of prayer. Though I may never know who did this to my car, I felt the need to pray for them. If Jesus could pray for those who nailed him to the cross, then surely I could pray for whoever hit my car and then fled the scene. Perhaps they were just scared. Perhaps they were uninsured. Perhaps they didn’t have the money to meet their deductible. I don’t know, but I will say that I felt better after I prayed for them.
- The area of fairness. When my daughters were growing up, one of the most common phrases I heard from them when we would discipline them was “That’s not fair.” And I would always respond, “Life isn’t always fair.” Well, now I have to swallow that bitter pill because it really isn’t fair that I should have to pay that $500 deductible or that I should see my insurance rates go up for something I didn’t even do. But then it was like the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Doug, was it fair that my Son should be falsely accused, beaten, and spit upon? Was it fair that He should be crowned with thorns, laden with the sins of the world, and nailed to a cross? Was it fair that He who was sinless should die for the sinful, including you?” To which all I could say was, “No, Lord, it wasn’t fair.” So if He could undergo all that unfairness and injustice, then surely I can handle that which has now come my way.
So…perspective. What a difference it can make when life seems so unfair!