It happens in an unnoticeable millisecond. Brakes do not engage because eyes do not perceive, physics takes effect and two moving objects collide.
A car accident.
Hopefully you have not had this "blessed happening" in your life, but if you have you know the description above to be true.
Obviously there are horrific family-rending, heart breaking accidents as well as embarrassing distractions-turned-collision accidents but in either case the event shakes us to our core. (If you have had a fatal accident affect your life, please know that I am not working with the raw material of that experience in this post. I'm thinking more of the fender bender here.)
And then the real fun begins.
Who is at fault? Squad cars arrive and assess the stories - sometimes the story is clear from the damage and tire tracks, yet others are he-said-she-said battles of persuasiveness that would make any competitive debate team proud.
Report written. Tickets issued. Please sign here, Mr. Tygrett.
And then, then we enter the arena of "repair." This is where I believe we have the most to learn about formation into Christlikeness:
No matter who is at fault, the person with the damaged car must get it fixed. The other driver's insurance may cover the cost, but the process of repair and the navigation of transportation belongs to the person who has been damaged.
Wait, read that again.
You may be the victim, you may be the one who was minding their own business when a stray "LOL" text caused the person behind you to crumple your trunk like a flu-laden kleenex, and yet the process of repair belongs to you.
Here is where we run into our greatest problems, in my mind, with formation into Christlikeness. We have become a culture of grace, and I am truly in favor of that. Grace is unmerited favor, it is reception and acceptance from God regardless of our track record.
Yet is it more. Grace is also power.
Grace is also the ability to respond in what Richard Foster calls "an inter-participatory relationship" with God. In other words, we have a part in grace. Grace enables us to meet responsibility in our own lives, with God, and walk in the light of that revolutionary goodness.
We have become a bit "works-a-phobic" these days, tiptoeing around anything that may even be accused as trying to earn our own salvation, and we have lost our role and responsibility WITH GOD in the process.
Jesus when healing the man with the withered hand in the synagogue said, "Stretch out your hand."
Anyone watching would have yelled at the screen: "He can't! That's why He needs you!"
Jesus understood and understands better than anyone that for us to fully and wholly enter into the life of light He has for us, we must enter into healing. Stretching out his hand led this man into the rushing river of his own healing & redemption. We have to enter into the grace that is provided without our earning, and make the effort to live in it every waking moment of every day.
The grace that rescues us is the other driver's insurance. The grace that gives us light for the journey is our responsibility for repair.
Let me make a simple statement: God's grace is not going to simply erase our pain. It is not going to remove all consequences from our actions both in the past and in the present. God's grace is not built to transport us to wonderland.
God's grace frees us from the guilt and damage and inspires us (literally through His Spirit) to walk with Him as He says, "Now, let's go get this thing fixed."
Our stuck and broken emotions move toward healing.
Our sick and misdirected hearts learn how to follow.
Our distracted and deceived minds begin to reorient around the truth.
May we all enter into the beauty of repair today, regardless of whether we have been damaged by others or by our own "bad driving" we have a God who desires to "be-with" us and empower us through the process of restoration.