It was a summer night, a long time ago, when this pre-teen learned three of the most valuable lessons of my life.
I was just about eleven, the night I was allowed to take my first trip away from home. Without my parents. Without my brother.
At the end of a visit from family friends at our house in Phoenix, I was invited to travel with them back to their home in Northern Arizona. My parents were hesitant, but finally agreed. Well, that is, after I begged and cajoled them for permission.
I was so excited to leave, I'm not even sure I kissed them goodbye. It was 1970. To avoid the desert heat, we left in the evening. I remember the car was large, probably an Oldsmobile, or something like that. There were four of us. The mom, who drove, of course. Her two children and me. The girl, a friend my age, quickly sprawled out across the backseat and fell asleep. Her little brother, curled up in the front passenger seat, and slumbered as the night wore on.
Small for my age, I crouched down on the center console between the two front seats. Wide awake with excitement, I must have talked most of the way. Finally, late into the night, a sudden, heavy fatigue caused me to climb down from my perch. I didn't want to disturb anyone, so I curled up on the floor behind the driver's seat, and soon was fast asleep.
Until, I woke from a tremendous jolt, crunching metal and breaking glass. My friend rolled on top of me from the force of the impact. Her little brother, who wore no seat belt, was tossed under the dashboard where he lay bleeding from a head wound.
Shaken up and covered in glass, my friend's mom tried to stay calm as she explained to us that we struck a cow which had crossed into the path of her fast moving car. We fought fear and panic. We were trapped inside the vehicle. When the police finally arrived, they pried open the doors to get us out.
In the cold night air, I saw the crumpled car. I watched good Samaritans attend to the gash on the boy's head. Then, it dawned on me. If I hadn't climbed on the floor behind the driver's seat, I would have flown through the windshield from the impact of the car striking the cow.
In a day before cell phones, I had no idea my mom had been on her knees, praying for me the entire night. She sensed something was wrong from the start. But, I had worn her down with my pleas. Not wanting to be an overprotective parent, she gave in. However, when I left, her foreboding only grew worse. So, she began her prayer vigil.
1) God Had a Purpose for My Life
As young as I was, I knew it was a miracle I was still alive. With my adolescent understanding, I learned my first valuable lesson. For the very first time, I was aware God must have spared me for some reason. God had a purpose for my life.
2) God Answers Prayer
With dread and worry weighing heavy on her heart, my mother went to her "prayer closet!" There she prayed for me, until she received the phone call about the accident. That night, I learned my second valuable lesson, God answers prayer! He did it in such a miraculous way. I knew, very well, my life should have ended that night.
3) God Gives Parents Discernment
In the days that followed the accident, as I heard my mother's account of "knowing" something was wrong, I understood God had given parents a sense of discernment for their kids well-being and safety. And, I learned that if my parents said "no" to some request I made, there may well be a reason beyond my immature, adolescent urgency and demand.
As I close, I encourage you dear parents, there is power in your prayers. Pray for your pre-teens and teens!. Follow your gut when you need to give permission to your emotion-driven adolescents. Explain to them the God given responsibility and special "knowing" you have as their parents. Then stick to your decision; let your "yes" be yes and your "no" no! And, finally, pray for the Lord to reveal to your child that He indeed has a purpose and a plan for their precious life.
Can you recall when you first knew that God answered prayer? Do you remember the first time you understood that God had a purpose for your life? I would love to hear from you!