I have watched Christine experience these personal collisions and all the while hold onto Jesus and wrestle through her deep questions, pain and fear. She is a beautiful woman who inspires me to hold onto what is still true about God in the midst of circumstances that tell you otherwise.
Still True by Christine Stone
I am a firm believer that colliding with Jesus is a lifelong process. As I look back on my story, I see numerous accounts of Jesus pursuing me to get me in a place where I can believe the truth about who He is, who those around me are, and who I am. This process continues today– I know He’s not done with me yet and I’m so thankful for His persistence. The part of my story I write about now involves a literal collision–a car crash to be exact. Here’s how Jesus entered in…
Just under three years ago, on a sunny afternoon in late September, I was on my way to work. At the time, I worked for an after school program. The school zone lights were flashing, indicating a 20-mile per hour speed limit. I was scanning the roadway in preparation to make my final right turn when I saw a mother and her three children stepping into the crosswalk. I stopped for them, waiting for them to make their way across the street when I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw a car speeding toward me. I could tell the car was coming too fast, but with an extra lane in the middle of the road, I felt sure it would go around me. Instead of passing, the car hit me, forcing my vehicle forward into the family in the crosswalk. The mother was flung up on the hood of my car but I heard only the thud as my car went over the two year-old girl, killing her on impact. Words can’t explain the horror of getting out of your car knowing what you’ll see and knowing there is nothing you can do to change it.
I knew from the beginning that little Sarah’s death had not been my fault. But that did not keep me from running the scenario over and over in my mind, searching for a way out, a different end to the story. The teenage girl who hit me was being tried for vehicular homicide. During the trial, I returned to scene of the accident before my testimony in court to see if I could remember any more details. I wanted to know exactly what had happened. Exactly what went wrong. My friends and family and the investigating officers assured me there was nothing I could have done to change the outcome, and I eventually came to believe them. But what about my God? Was there nothing He could have done? I thought he was all-powerful? All knowing? I thought he cared about my
safety. I thought he cared about the little children. And now I was seeing her body on the sidewalk, not knowing what to believe.
Tragedies like this shape our view of God. I questioned what it meant for God to be in control. If he had the power to save Sarah, why didn’t he? If he was in control, how could he let this happen? The things people said to me, trying to bring comfort, wounded me even further. They said things like, “God let’s these things happen to teach us lessons and grow us.” Would God really let a child die to teach me something? And if so, what was this thing that was so important he was trying to teach me?
Tragedies like this shape our view of others. I didn’t know where to direct my anger. It’s human nature to look for someone to blame for the pain we’ve experienced, as though blaming someone else will bring the justice we seek. But too often we forget that those we blame are also experiencing hurt. Would bitterness really solve anything? I wanted to blame the other driver but couldn’t get past the fact that anyone else, including myself, could have made the same mistake. She did not intend for this to happen. None of us had asked for this.
Tragedies like this shape our view of ourselves. I didn’t feel like I could include myself as a victim. A family had lost their daughter,
and that wasn’t my experience. I didn’t feel like I had a right to the pain I felt. It paled in comparison to theirs. I was just the girl in the middle. Yet I was also angry that my life was being interrupted by this awful thing that I didn’t ask for. Suddenly I had to deal with paperwork, appointments, emotions and painful memories that I wanted nothing to do with. My view of myself was
complicated—a messy mix between being victimized yet unworthy of sympathy.
Driving or even riding in a car became intensely difficult. I began to believe that if I did everything perfectly, then I would be in
control of the road. I always used my turn signal, avoided difficult turns, and planned the easiest and safest routes, sometimes hours before I got in the car. I would never get hit again, nor would I ever hit someone else.
I was in two more car accidents within just 13 months of that accident. The first happened the following January on the ice. It was a
minor accident but still totaled my new vehicle and aggravated my injuries from the accident just three months before. With the money from my insurance company, I bought a less expensive vehicle and a plane ticket to Africa. I had felt called to Africa for years now and was excited to see how God would use me at an orphanage there. On a day trip to a national park in South Africa, a deer darted across the road. The driver did not see the animal until it was too late. The brakes locked and the car skid into a concrete block on the side of the road. I was hospitalized along with the 9 year old boy who was sitting next to me. Injuries were minor, but the emotional impact was not. I struggled with the fact that I had gone to Africa to serve God, and he let me get in another accident. Again, I was forced to confront the very thing that had caused the most distress in my life.
There is a story in Luke 8 of a woman who collides with Jesus. This woman had been subject to bleeding for 12 years. When the woman in the story first got sick, she didn’t know what was ahead—that she would be in bondage for 12 years and suffer greatly before being set free by Jesus. Maybe I’m just at the beginning of my “12 years”, the beginning of a long period of struggle. But that doesn’t change who God is. He is the same God as He was before Sarah’s death. He is the same God today, after three car accidents.
Maybe I will deal with driving anxiety for many years to come, but that doesn’t change who God is. A child died that day. But God is till the Giver of Life, and Sarah’s life did not end on the sidewalk. I have painful memories and intrusive flashbacks, but God is still my Healer. I cry, but God is still my Comforter.
Over time, I began to see my situation through “kingdom eyes.” I learned that we can’t let our circumstances tell us who God is. I saw evidence of God’s character on a daily basis. God’s comfort shined through the friends and family who showed up to cry with me. God’s love was obvious in my faithful boyfriend, now my loving husband, who prayed with me in the ER and in the months following. God’s kindness was evident in my dad who helped me navigate the insurance maze. God’s compassion was revealed through the health care providers who helped strengthen my physical body. And God’s healing was demonstrated through the counselors who helped me work through pain and anxiety.
The court case ended with the young driver being convicted of vehicular homicide. I didn’t feel relief. I just felt sad—sad for her
because, as angry as I was, as unjust as everything felt, I had to believe that she was in God’s care just as I was, just as Sarah was. I now understand that she is a wounded young women who will probably know no greater pain than for what happened that day.
Having a true and healthy view of God, ourselves, and others rarely happens overnight. Despite the sick woman’s miraculous healing in Luke 8, I would imagine she had to fight the voices that were still calling her unworthy, unclean, undeserving of being healed. She would have to fight to hold onto the truth that she is loved by God, valuable, and called as God’s child. In the same way, I have to fight to believe that God is Sovereign, that I am in His beloved child, and that he loves the girl who hit me just as much as he loves me.
A few months into my healing process, I looked at past entries in my journal. I was curious to see what I had written in the days
prior to the accident. On the day before the accident, I had written these words: “I am a princess of the High King.
A daughter of God. My life is priceless. He takes pleasure in me, my personality, my sensitive heart, my physical body. He has plans for me.” And now looking back with the perspective I have and the chaos the following months would bring, I can say with certainty that those words are still true. Those words are still true of me, they are true of the teenage girl, they are true of little Sarah who is with Him now, and no matter where you find yourself today, those words are true of you. I hope that you will push forward with me to believe it.