Did that really just happen?
Minding my own business, in transit from one work location to the other as I am wrapping up the long work week. Sitting still in a line of cars at a stop light. Out of nowhere...crash...and the car rocks back and forth.
In the physical realm of wrecks, this one was thankfully very minimal.
In the realm of the mind, this one was a booger.
I put the car in park, put the hazard lights on, then step out of my vehicle to survey the damage and meet the offender.
Very minimal damage to both vehicles, though slightly more to his.
Nervous, smiling gentleman offers his insurance papers.
My mind is reeling. This came out of nowhere. Unexpected. Unplanned. What do I do now? How do I handle this?
I am okay. He is okay. Neither of us have passengers. Thank the Lord.
Do I call the police? Does the insurance company require an accident report? It's been so long since I've been in an accident that I can't remember this clearly.
The friendly gentleman clearly does not want me to call the police. He calls his insurance agent and hands me the phone. I discuss the situation with the agent as I am still struggling to figure it out myself.
As the agent suggests, I call the claim reporting number and begin the process of reporting a claim while asking them whether or not to call the police.
While waiting for someone to answer the line, the kind offender is showing me pictures of what he does at work, revealing that he is a person who works hard and takes pride in what he does. Along with his kindness, I see meekness, humility, and even fear.
Finally, an answer on the line. The lady on the other end informs me that she is merely an employee at the answering service, therefore she cannot answer my question either. She then suggests I call---the man with whom I already spoke. Ugh!
So I do.
He gives me another number to the main company office which he says will get me directly to an underwriter who can further advise me.
The woman with whom I speak says it is technically up to me and the other driver but her advice---get the accident report in case the man later tries to change the story and claim the accident is my fault, thereby claiming damage for which my insurance will have to pay and such.
The nervous offender asks me what the lady suggested.
I tell him she says I should call the police and get an accident report.
Though it is a bit humid outside, as I notice this quiet man wipe under his eye, I realize that he is not wiping sweat away.
My mind is still undecided.
Throughout this whole process, I have been praying for God to guide me in what to do. Whether or not to call the police.
- What if he does change the story and claim something false against me?
- What if the right thing to do is involve the police in this?
- What if involving the police causes his world to shatter as he knows it?
- What if...what if...what if?
- What to do...what to do...what to do?
I do. Mr. Philip quite reluctantly tells me that his best advice is to take the advice of the underwriter.
Again, I inform the tearful offender of his agent's advice.
Still I remain undecided and reeling with what if's.
Other things going through my mind:
- Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. - James 2:12-13
- “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” - Matthew 18:32-35
- For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. - Romans 12:3
- There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? - James 4:12
- Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. - Jude 1:22-23
- Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. - Colossians 3:12-13
- “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37
Finally, my mind is made up.
I walk up to the now overtly tearful, humble, afraid man and shake his hand.
I tell him that God told me to give him grace.
As we are being rushed out of the private parking lot by the business owner, we have little time for any further words. His countenance thanks me even more than the words, "Thank you," which come from his mouth. I bid him to drive safely and have a good day.
As I drive away, mind still questioning if I did the right thing or was just played for the fool, I clearly sense that this was more than just a lesson in paying forward a tiny bit of the enormous undeserved grace I have received from my Lord.
I realize the tremendous step of faith involved in trusting my God to protect me and my family from any possible future harm that my decision could facilitate. Trusting that, if false claims do come my way, even then He will protect, uphold and guide me.
You may disagree with my decision, especially if you knew more details which I deliberately omitted.
You may think me naive.
You may be right in many ways, if you think as such.
However, the only One I answer to---the only One I ultimately live to please---the only One I ultimately trust and depend on above all---He is my judge---and He is the judge of my offender.
Who is your judge?
Whom are you living to please?
Who are you brandishing with a guilty verdict?
Consider the passages I have provided here, then reconsider your life and how you view the lives of those around you.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. - Proverbs 11:2