(Yes, that is me on the bottom left – younger, thinner, tanner, blonder. Heh.)
I’m the oldest of four. I have 2 younger sisters and a younger brother – and my brother was born with multiple medical issues. I won’t get into them all here because they are complicated, and even after 30 years of being his sister I’m not sure I understand them all but I will tell you this – he had brain tumors and has been through multiple brain surgeries. He dealt with seizures for most of his childhood. Behavioral and impulse control problems resulted because of the tumors, surgeries and endless medications.
As a child, I remember our house almost always being in a state of emergency. My brother was, in many ways, a normal highly spirited and impulsive little guy. But a lot of that impulsivity was exacerbated by his condition. Sometimes I’m not sure how my parents made it through those years.
We have legendary stories to tell about my brother, but this is one that always strikes me. I think he was maybe 3 or 4 years old and disappeared one afternoon. This was pretty common – he was a magician at finding ways to sneak out of the house and take off from a very young age.
On this day, my Mother got into our car to head out and look for him.
In the city we lived in at the time, there was a busy intersection at the bottom of a big hill. And when I say big, I mean BIG hill. It was a 4 way stop, 2 lanes at each light – heading into a busy shopping center. She recounts her experience of sitting at the stop light, waiting for the light to turn green so she could head into the shopping center to look for him. I believe it was around rush hour, because she tells of how busy the intersection was. Cars whizzing by, constant movement. As she sat there, she noticed in the rear view mirror a blur coming down the hill that was my little brother. Perched on his big wheel, and completely oblivious to the absolute danger that awaited him, he went careening down this hill full speed towards a busy intersection during rush hour traffic.
I can’t even BEGIN to fathom how her emotions took over at that moment. I can almost feel the dread in my own stomach as I think of one of my little ones heading full speed ahead towards such obvious danger and destruction. As she sat in her car, panicked, stuck in traffic and unable to stop the tragedy that she was sure was to unfold, I’m sure she could do nothing but pray.
The second my brother hit the intersection, it was as if time stood still. The road fell silent and cars seemed to vanish. No cars whizzing through the lights, no cars turning into the shopping center. Just a happy, oblivious little 4 year old boy on a big wheel flying through at break neck speed. He made it through that intersection without a scratch and as soon as he hit the sidewalk on the other side, my Mom will say how almost immediately traffic picked back up and cars began whizzing down the road again.
I think of that story often – the way he was protected as he unknowingly careened towards what should have resulted in certain death or at least severe injury. I think of our Heavenly Father looking over him at that moment – seeing my Mother in the car, fear grasping her heart. I think of Him casting a tunnel of protection over my little brother in the moment he flew through that busy intersection, keeping him safe.
I wonder to myself how many times I have been like that oblivious little boy on a big wheel – without knowledge of what certain destruction was waiting for me. I wonder how many times my Heavenly Father cast a tunnel of protection around me and let me fly gleefully through what should have been a terrifying and devastating moment.
It is easy to focus on the moments we know went wrong. It’s easy to be angry over things we KNOW caused us pain and despair and tragedy. Those are tangible, in your face experiences. I, like so many of you, find myself crying out to God demanding to know WHY He put me in this place. I want to know WHY He wasn’t there to protect me from it.
But the truth is, I am sure He has been there countless times before when I had no idea. Deep down, I know He is always there, always with me. I will probably never know just how many times he paused life around me and let me experience happiness and pure oblivion.
T. D. Jakes once said, “That thing that is not coming to you may seem good. But either the timing is wrong, or from His position He can see that the future of it is bleak. I have always believed that people who thank God only for delivering them from what happened are just scraping the surface of praise. The real praise comes when you start thanking Him for what could have happened but didn’t because of His swift grace!“
Today, I choose to praise God for his unending grace, love and protection. I have no doubt it has been rained down upon me in moments that I was completely and utterly unaware.