Tuesday morning I read this quote in my internet distractions. It's actually rare that something I read briefly and in passing will stick with me, but Tuesday was a day to see the "three of them", and a day to be aware that there are so many more things happening.
Some days it feels like someone took about 5 different puzzles and dumped them all out over your head.
This piece might pair up well with that one; and these two are obviously from the same puzzle, but also, obviously, they don't fit together. Some of them are still stuck together from the last time you did this puzzle (and why do we do the same puzzle over and again?), but for the most part you just have a pile of random pieces.
Anyways. Tuesday was one of those days. Things were lining up and happening for a reason, like they always do and like we sometimes notice. Also, things seemed random and out of order.
That quote from John Piper was heavy in my mind as I took my two boys to town for their dentist appointments. And when you live 45 minutes from town, you don't go just for one errand. We had a list to tackle and we worked through the dentist's, the gas station, the grocery store, the Jiffy Lube - where we gave a week's worth of grocery money to have the transmission flushed and the oil changed, and finally the Farmer's Co-op.
Those are all just puzzle pieces and I'm sorry to bore you with details.
On our drive home my mind wandered. I was still thinking about the quote from Piper and about the three things I might see, the thousands of others I know I'm missing, and asking to maybe see four things that day.
I don't ask for the whole puzzle, but just one more piece.
To be honest, my mind had been wandering for most of the morning because it was just me and the boys - one of whom was unusually quiet and the other who was characteristically silent. I was enjoying the time to just think.
I had thought about my van and all the miles and all the problems it was hinting at having. I thought about how I'd never really been embarrassed to drive a mini-van; how it had always been just a tool and I was thankful for the room and reliability of it. I was thinking about how we just can't afford to drive something else right now, if this one should fail; but also, what kind of car would I get next, when the old girl finally gave up the ghost and died?
On the drive home I was thinking about loss and how it changes families. I don't know why I play out the scenarios, but I do. I think about losing my husband or child or parent. I think about trying to live life altered by a loss like that, and I pray for families going through the very thing.
Life is precious and I just remind myself of it sometimes, in the midst of busy errands.
About 5 miles after I'd envisioned the loss of someone precious, Ruth pulled out in front of me. She was leaving the little country store on the corner of the busy highway, trying to pull out around a log truck that was parked in the way of her view.
She didn't see us.
77 years old and her first driving accident was pulling out in front of our van with the fresh transmission fluid, full tank of gas, groceries, and 2 of my most precious people.
No one was hurt, and that's thing #1.
There was no traffic in the other lane, where I swerved on the wet road to avoid a direct hit with Ruth and her great-granddaughter who was in the front seat. That's thing #2.
My eldest daughter, the one who took driver's education last summer and reminds everyone of every obscure driving law, wasn't with us. That's thing #3, because she inevitably would have been driving.
She may have handled the car better than I did. She may not have instinctively turned the passenger side of the vehicle toward the impact, like I did, twisting the tire and the metal so that her brother couldn't open his door. But 8 months of driving is not the time to have your first accident.
Thing #4 was the couple from our church who was at the store and watched the whole thing, who took our groceries and my youngest son home to my daughters
#5 was the opportunity to praise the Lord with all the onlookers and make them aware of numbers 1-4 and every other coulda-been. It coulda-been really bad, and it wasn't.
When the man from our little town walked into the towing station to pick something up, just as I was talking to the owner and asking for a tow - he became thing #6. He heard my name and offered to give us a ride home because he was heading that way. He showed up on the scene before the officer or the tow truck and waited with us.
On the exact same sweeping-corner of highway, this van was totalled five years ago. We were in the middle of a 4 car pile up and were hit from behind, and we bought the van back from the insurance company and had it fixed. I've been driving it with a "reconstructed" title for years, stretching every last ounce of faithfulness out of it.
I'm not sure where that piece fits at all. It's just weird. I want to call it thing #7 but I'm not really sure it's a part of this puzzle at all.
I have a pea-brain and I can't remember important things like when the electric bill is due or when my friends' birthdays are. I'm blind to most things outside of my direct view. I'm also oblivious to 9,997 things that God is doing in my life and thankful that I don't have to keep track of everything.
But if I can see just one more thing today? Let it be what my youngest son shared with me that evening when we were all home together. "It just amazes me that God sees me even when I don't pay any attention to Him," he said.
Sometimes you can look back and see how all the steps were lined up by God to avert disaster - that red light, the extra stop you decided to make, the wallet you forgot and had to go back for.
There were extra stops we didn't make that day, stops that would have changed our course and kept our van and our nerves in tact. But God allowed our steps to fall the way they did and He opened our eyes to one more thing.
And then Sunday, several days after I'd written this and worked through all the coulda-beens, a good friend experienced things lining up in a different way. A tragic accident took him home and left his family behind, and we can't really make sense of anything today.
But we're all paying attention.