A few years back, inspired by a book she was reading, my wife began naming and counting the gifts. The book read that everything is Divinely gifted to us and it's easy to miss the extravagance of them, these gifts we're given. We miss them when we're distracted by the clanging cymbals of prime-time news outlets stirring up fear frenzies. We miss them when we're distracted by the rush of shared online calendars. We miss them when they're lost in the extraordinarily mundane. The book calls us to see differently, to see the beauty of this life, to identify the fingerprints of God on our everyday. My wife first began scribing her own Gratitude Journal during a cold winter; the entries looking beyond the dreary and calling out the red cardinals of her days. She dared me to do the same.
The call came on a calm evening. Our friend and his family were hit by a drunk driver. Some were okay. Others were in critical care. I drove to the hospital and hugged this big, burly, biker-man limping about the lobby, all frantic with concern and hope for his family. The kids were being evaluated. The wife was awaiting scans and reports to summarize the extent of her head injuries. My pastor friend and I joined biker-man in the elevator to check on his wife. And then grace happened. As biker-man recounted the horrific details of the crash, he thanked us for responding to his call for prayer and for our presence. And this, "The [drunk] driver... he's in bad shape too I think..." Biker-man continued, "Let's be sure to pray for him... and for his life leading up to the crash and what will be after." As this large man lumbered toward the ICU to hear the extent of his wife's inuries, he called us to pray for the man that caused the crash." This is grace, amazing.
As we entered the dark room with the monitors sounding cadence, biker-man's wife was responsive. They recalled the scene of the accident. She asked about the kids. She stammered through the pain medicine she was given to tell him, "I love you." He said, "I love you too, honey." The kids were discharged.
Control is such an illusion. We structure our worlds and our days to try and manufacture it, but it's always fleeting. As we said our goodbyes to leave the hospital, biker-guy reflected, "I am just so thankful. Wow. It's just like that... in an instant." And it's just like that. In an instant an unexpected event crashes into our comfortable lives, we are wrecked, and the fallacy of control is revealed.
And this morning on Facebook, I read this post from biker-man. "The man who hit us is in the SICU bed next to [my wife]. HIPAA laws prevent knowing anything about him, even his name at this point, but I hope to be able to pray for him and tell him he's forgiven in the morning. May he be as shocked at grace as I always am, and may he feel love instead of shame. May the miracle of Christmas be with us."
Ann Voskamp writes, "... Christmas can't be made, like people can't be self-made, like dreams can't be force-made. Everything is given from heaven. Everything is a gift. Your life becomes a masterpiece the moment you see it as a gift of grace to willingly receive." And that's the secret, yes? To be humbled to know that everything is a gift from heaven, to celebrate the extravagance of it all, and to share the miracle by jumping boldly into these puddles of grace so that they splash indiscriminately into the lives of others.
This morning I write, I name the gifts, and I count.
#4,466 My friend and his family were spared and cared for and safe after life turns on a dime and an accident changes everything
#4,467 The grace of Christ shining through my friend as he calls for his Facebook community to pray for this man who hit them.
It's two days until Christmas. I pray that above the noise loud, tragic crashing, questions unanswered, and hope hushed, we hear the still small voice of The Greatest Gift, whose light dispels all darkness and whose perfect love casts out all fear. I pray that grace splashes. And I pray for my friend, his family, and the man who hit them - that they'll each have a deeper understanding of the miracle of Christmas.