When Car Accidents Turn to Lessons in Forgiveness

August 31, 2019 | by: Shea Oakley | 0 Comments

Posted in: Grace

“….and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” Matthew 6:12 (NLT)

A little less than two weeks ago I was in a serious car accident. By the grace of God both I and the driver of the other car were uninjured. The other driver had tried to make a left turn using an intersection I was about to pass through (one less than ¼ mile from my home). Let’s just say she timed it badly and in trying to avoid “T-boning” her car I had to swing as far to the right as I could and ended up squarely hitting a concrete and steel light pole. My car was totaled.

To my surprise the first thing I heard after the impact was the voice of the other driver yelling from her car “are you OK?” I told her I thought I was and asked the same. She then said she was going to pull over and call the police. They came and, after ascertaining that we were both not injured, issued her a citation for Careless Driving (I had the “right of way”). Not long after that, as my wife and I were watching the wrecker pick up what was left of my car, this woman who I guessed to be her very early 20’s and her boyfriend approached the two of us and apologized for the accident. She again asked me if I was OK. My wife then drove me home.

Despite the already fairly obvious (and sad) end of my car I almost immediately found myself thinking about the integrity with which this young lady acted after she made a mistake that led to a dangerous accident. Not only had she asked about my welfare and apologized, but she also did not flee the scene when she had the ability to do because at that point my car certainly wasn’t going anywhere.

I also remembered all the wrong things I have done behind the wheel through the years.

This week she had her hearing at the traffic court in our town and I decided to show up a bit early and talk to the prosecutor on her behalf. After telling him what happened with the accident I added that she was a great example for her generation in how she dealt with the aftermath and asked him to take that into account as far as the sentencing. He said that rather than my having to possibly spend the rest of the day in court he could take it from there, so I asked him to please tell her that I had put in a good word for her. 

Frankly, I give thanks to God that I was able to forgive her at all. I do not think that would have happened before I came to faith; God helped to make that forgiveness an easy thing to give. And on a personal level it felt great to be able to sincerely want to help this person out, and then carry that desire through.

What I learned was that, with the Lord’s help, forgiveness is not always a terribly difficult thing to do. I realize that forgiving a woman who badly timed a turn and robbed me of my car is not the same as forgiving someone who robbed you of your childhood innocence, or your marriage, or your family. Deep hurts take longer to heal and so does the forgiveness which is integral to that healing.

That said; thank God that we can start with the smaller offenses against us and work our way up to and through the larger ones. In either case it is always His power, combined with our willingness, that makes all forgiveness possible….whether it comes in minutes or takes much longer.

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