There’s always damage done, often physical pain, definitely emotional confusion and chaos, and without question, car accidents leave victims wondering how in the world things could end up like this.
I drove back to the church, where my office is, after a long lunch on Monday. Mondays are the day in the week for me, as a pastor, where I’m not always paying the most attention to thing around me. I call it my low day of the week because of the amount of teaching I do on Sunday mornings and Sunday nights with youth group. It’s kind of an emotional recovery day for me. So, I drove back to the office, and saw the carnage. Not bodies, but vehicular carnage. One of the two cars was the small SUV driven by one of our church members who was coming to church to attend a women’s Bible study. She was making a left u-turn on the green arrow, was fully in the middle of the intersection, when an approaching vehicle must have run the red light and broadsided her on the right rear panel.
I drove up on the scene and maneuvered my little car through the two fire trucks, ambulance and police cars so that I could park and offer emotional assistance to our church member. She was standing on the sidewalk, visibly stable and even able to joke about the situation. She seems fine. I pray that she is resting and able to recover from the shock quickly. The other driver was taken to the hospital by ambulance, so we are praying for them as well.
What happened in that moment when life got distracting?
I don’t know if you’ve been involved in a vehicular accident, but experiencing 4 of them myself, brings me right back to that moment of shock like it were live in my life again. I am the third of four kids, so accidents happened.
I’ve been off the grid for a while, and have felt as though my life has been in a car accident. Maybe not that extreme. Nothing has happened. I haven’t experienced shock, or damage, or sirens, but I sense a bit of the numbness one feels after the shock wears off. I’m trying to figure out why my life feels like this.
One idea is “kairos” time. Chronos time is linear like chronology, but kairos time is “moment” time, or awareness of events kind of time; a sharp alert to something ‘different’ happening kind of time. I haven’t been paying attention to kairos time lately and it’s wearing on me like numbness, or like being in a dark room where your eyes adjust after a while. I’m “getting used to” things and I’m not paying attention to kairos.
One of my spiritual directors is helping me see this clearly through a practice from 3dministries where they take a simple image to explain moments of discipleship growing opportunities with Christ.
One of their images involves a dotted line above a circle with an x at the top of the circle intersecting the line. As you encounter a kairos moment, or some crisis of faith, you move around the circle in a direction of repentance toward the bottom of the circle. Along the way you observe, reflect, and discuss your event with others who might bring things to light. At the bottom of the circle you take a turn toward believing something new for your life. You do this by making a plan, being accountable and acting on new insight. This brings you to the dotted line where you journey forward in faith until you recognize another kairos moment.
I don’t live my life by these life shapes, and seldom think of my life as an image on a blank page, but I am learning that life is filled with kairos along this path of chronos time. Life isn’t linear, isn’t static, isn’t just filled with predictability and stability. Who am I to think that I should expect life to be normal, accident free, pain free… and free from the awareness of God’s activity in my life or in those around me?
I don’t like car accidents… I don’t want my kids to ever drive.
Sometimes the shock of an accident is the very thing that reminds us of the God-time, kairos moments in life to wake us up from the malaise chronology of linear safety and security, which for me was turning into comfort and a slow distracting removal of the gracious, caring voice of God in my ear.
“Thank you, Father God, for the wake up call, the shock and awe of screeching tires, sirens and wrinkled metal as a reminder that I need to pay attention to you and not be distracted in the chronological any longer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen”