RECEIVING JOY THROUGH MIRACLES
This summer, my husband and I had an opportunity to attend the midget car races. When we were first married, we did the car race scene every Friday night. In fact, my husband helped in the pits for his racing friend. What a JOYful time of our lives.
After all these years, I’m here to tell you that the noise is the same and the dust still settled in my hair and clothes. But, I don’t remember quite as much excitement at the races as the night we watched the funny-looking midget cars.
They crashed often. A race would begin with sixteen vehicles, but end with only eight or nine. No one was hurt throughout the night, but the crews had a lot of work to do before the damaged midgets could race again.
These particular cars fascinated me. Each vehicle had a unique paint job. And not only were they screaming loud, they whipped around the corners sidewise. I took many pictures with my IPhone of the colorful vehicles spinning around the track.
I was putting my cell into my pocket when my husband grabbed my arm and yelled, “Look!”
I glanced up. A gigantic tire was flying through the air. It bounced about thirty feet on the grass in front of the stands. The wheel barely missed a group of children playing and four adults sitting on lawn chairs at the edge of the grass. It took me a second to realize that the tire had come off of a midget car on the turn closest to us.
The black blob bounced again on the cement directly in front of the stands, seven rows down from us. The tire kept going and bounded to our right, hitting the wooden seats. Finally, it sprang over the fence into the concession area. The wheel hit a building and came to a dead stop.
Not one person was hurt by the runaway tire.
A miracle? Perhaps, since the first seats we selected were on the front row—within a foot or two of where the huge bouncy tire vaulted. It was impossible to tell where the wheel would land next. People scurried to get away from the tire and could have been hit and killed.
For the next few days, neither of us could stop thinking about that night at the Midget car races. We reminisced about another time we faced a traumatic incident and walked away.
In 2011, Don and I sat in the stands at the Reno Air Races. It was our third or fourth year attending, and we were as excited as ever. On the third lap of the final race for the day, I started my long walk back to the motorhome via the flight line. Don chose to stay in the stands until the race ended.
I continued to eye the sky as I walked, stopping along the line for the final couple of laps. The viewing spot was a perfect place to cheer on my favorite pilot and plane, plus, see who would get the first checkered flag.
One of the planes turned out of the flight pattern directly in front of where I stood. I’d seen other aircraft pull up when they had mechanical problems so didn’t think too much about it.
But something else was wrong. A second later, the plane swerved toward the stands. It turned on its side before rolling onto its back and descended into the stands. The Mustang and its pilot disappeared.
No smoke, no crash sounds, no engine noise, no screams—just silence.
The plane went down in the area I had left a few moments before. My husband still sat in the stands. I called his cell. It rang ten times. Finally, I heard fumbling and Don’s shaky voice.
The P51 Mustang had dropped into the flight line seating boxes directly in front of the stands. It disintegrated on impact. Ten people on the ground died that day, plus the pilot.
My husband told me that during the airplane’s descent, he looked up and saw the propeller leading the plane straight down to our seats. He remembers thinking he was a goner. But at the last minute, the plane rolled and veered down to the spot eighteen rows in front of our reserved seats.
A tragedy? Most definitely. A miracle? Yes. Many more people, including my husband, might have died that day if the Mustang had hit the crowded wooden stands.
What I learned in 2011 was reinforced the other evening at the car races. There’s JOY after disaster and tragedy. It is possible to find JOY in every situation, hardship, and disease.
God does show up.
In an instant, lives change. But I take comfort in knowing He is faithful in all things—even those senseless incidents that leave us wondering why. We can make it through life’s obstacles, tragedies, fears, and diseases because JOY is a choice.
Perhaps you’ve been in a situation that left you in awe of God’s timing and protection. When trauma, disease, pain, or suffering steps in my way, I close my eyes and remember giving birth to my children. The pain was great, unbearable at times. But when that baby took a breath, I forgot the pain and grasped the JOY.
We should choose and grasp the JOY always. After all, what’s the alternative?