It happened this morning as I drove my daughter to school. We were having one of our usual in-the-car conversations, where it’s not really about anything at all but it’s extremely special because you’re just chatting with your child like you would any other person and you can really see her for the person she is.
Anyway, I was driving along, glancing periodically in my mirror to look at her as we talked. The sun was particularly bright this morning, as we were a few minutes earlier than normal and the winter sun glared down at a harsh angle. My sun visor was down, so I had a partially eclipsed view of the world before me. I glanced back at her for one second and then looked back at the road…in time to see two pedestrians directly in front of me. The one in the back, a woman, waved her arm to tell me to steer away from them and give them some room.
I’ve danced around one thought all morning, and I dance around it even now as I try to tell the story. Here it is: I almost hit them with my car because I wasn’t paying total attention to what I was doing.
Yes, the sun was bright, and that made it very hard to see. Yes, I was cresting a steep hill, so everything at that moment came “out of nowhere.” Yes, it is probably the second-busiest road in our county, and people probably shouldn’t walk there for exercise during rush hour. All of those things – and more, even – ran through my mind within seconds of seeing the pair and veering safely away from them.
“That was NOT your fault, Jess. That was NOT YOUR FAULT.”
I repeated it over and over again to myself, out loud and in my head, as I continued the drive. I bounced back and forth between self defense and self admonition. I fought back persistent thoughts of what could have happened. I have imagined horrible scenes over and over again. It wasn’t all my fault…but I was partially to blame. It wasn’t my fault….but oh, it kind of was. Round and round it goes in my mind, and I haven’t been able to focus on much else without a haunting image interrupting my thoughts. I don’t know if it’s my chronic anxiety that makes me this way or what, but when something like that happens to me, I am obsessed with it. I can’t shake it from my mind. I am haunted by it and it affects my mood and my thinking and even my physical demeanor. It’s there. It won’t be shaken.
Life is like that for all of us a lot of the time, I think. We live in a world where so often, what could have been speaks louder than what is. What wasn’t hides our view of what was. What might be hides keeps us from seeing what already is. We live in the nebulous world of possibilities past, present, and future without resting in the fantastic realities of today.
What’s worse, I believe with all my heart that Satan – that spiritual enemy that Scripture calls “the accuser” – is the one who is captivating my thoughts, making me dwell on the horribleness instead of gratefully clinging to truth.
All of this – this world with its horrible things that almost were and it’s worse things that are – will pass away. Inside my heart, I hear a whisper desperately trying to win my attention over the screams of lies. It whispers peace and hope and light and life and truth, but it’s so much easier to focus on the noisy darkness. It’s so much more natural, even, to go the way of painful thoughts than to deliberately choose the path of healing.
What I am reminding myself of this morning is that even when bad things happen – even when almost becomes is – Jesus has overcome. There is good and bad and ugly in this world, and Jesus has already overcome all of it. The good things? He’s better. The bad things? He’s stronger and bigger and more powerful. The ugly things? Oh, He’s so much more beautiful.
Jesus overcame, and He overcomes even today. We like to put His victory somewhere in the distant past and faraway future, but the truth is, His victory is for every day. Today. Right now. Jesus lives in eternity. A very wise teacher told me once that somehow – in a truth that I cannot understand at all – God sees me at the moment of my birth, the moment of my death, and the moment I’m in right now, all at the same time. He is outside of time, and that means that He is present right now in the tomb, emerging into the early morning light with steps that forever changed the world. He is present right now in His immaculate, majestic, awe-inspiring return, riding on the clouds and gathering His own to Himself as a shepherd rounds up his sheep. Those victories are every bit as present in my thoughts today as they were when the women approached the tomb on Easter morning and as they will be one day, when…. Oh, one day………..
Victory is mine today. This isn’t theoretical, and this isn’t just for someone else who seems to know more about God than I do. It’s for ME. TODAY. Jesus’ victory over haunting thoughts and painful memories and horrifying fears is NOW. He’s done it already, and all I have to do is claim it for myself.
It’s about clinging to truth. It’s about hanging on to light. It’s about running from things that haunt and pull me down, and running as fast as I can to the only thing that has ever faithfully held me up.
And friends, this is for you, too. Victory. It’s yours.
Thank you, Jesus, for doing that for us. Let us live like we believe it.