Thursday, February 7, 2008

Remembering What Might Have Been

We don’t get a lot of snow in Maryland, but when a big storm comes, life shuts down for a while. Maryland drivers are not known for their skill in dealing with snow. So I generally burrow down at home and wait for it all to pretty much melt before venturing out again. Back in 2003, we had a particularly good storm that left almost two feet behind. Daniel had come home from the University of Maryland to enjoy the beauty of the storm from his own bedroom window. School was cancelled for a day or two. When it was time for him to return to campus, he and I bundled up, spent ½ hour cleaning off the car, and hit the road to get him back to school.

Driving was still a challenge. The highway lost a lane unexpectedly here and there, and ice coated many sections of road. We passed several accidents, two with cars which had flipped over. So I drove with my heart in my throat. It was a dark, bitterly cold night.

When we reached the Capital Beltway, we discovered that not too many Washingtonians were worried about snow. The highway was packed with evening travelers. The traffic was thick as pea soup. Pea soup that was zooming around at 70 MPH. As we merged in with the traffic, I adjusted my speed to fit in with the surrounding cars. After traveling several miles, Daniel suddenly gave a shout. “Mom! He’s going to hit us!” To my horror, I saw a car which had spun out on ice and lost control heading straight for the passenger side of our car.

BAM! He slammed into us. I struggled to keep control of my minivan but was pushed into the next lane. The SUV driving on my left was forced onto the shoulder. All I could hear was tires squealing on the road as we all tried to come to a stop. Shaking, I eased my car over to the right, finally slowing to a stop on the right hand shoulder. The other cars involved were still on the left shoulder, five lanes apart from us. Almost without a pause, traffic began sailing by us again. Daniel and I sat in the car, trembling.

When something like that happens, it is very difficult to think clearly. Daniel opened his door. “I guess I’ll cross the road and talk to them,” he told me. I eyed the copious traffic in my rear-view mirror as it flew by.

“No, Daniel, wait!” I said in alarm. “Let them drive over here—no insurance information is worth risking your life!” Of course, he never would have considered trying to cross thick, speeding traffic in the dark on the Beltway under normal circumstances. My son has an excellent head on his shoulders. It was the shock of the event affecting his judgment.

Even now, remembering his intention of crossing the Beltway at night makes me shudder. What if I wasn't there to stop him? He surely would have been killed.

Sometimes remembering the "what might have beens" in our lives is a good thing. Paul wrote the Ephesians: “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ . . . having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace.” (Eph 2:12-14)

It is a good idea every once in a while to look back at the bleak picture of our “before” screen. We were spiritually dead (Eph 2:1), slaves of sin (Rom 6:17), enemies of God (Rom 5:10), without hope (Eph 2:12), and condemned to an eternity of suffering and spiritual death (Rom 5:18). All of us were under the wrath of God.

If the thought of walking across a busy Beltway at night scares you, this “might have been” is enough to make anyone shudder. Paul tells the Ephesians to remember. His reminder in this epistle is to actually help them focus on their future. They were to remember what might have been if it hadn’t been for Christ Jesus shedding His blood on their behalf. That remembrance would help them come alongside the Jews who were saved from the same terrible fate. And together they would become the Church. So they needed to remember.

Thinking about “what might have been” is helpful in cultivating a grateful heart and a love for Christ. Understanding what we have been saved from allows us to more fully appreciate the lengths to which God went to rescue and restore us to a right relationship with Him. Remembering promotes unity within the body of Christ.

So don’t forget to remember.

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