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Word to the Wise: June 28

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” - Proverbs 17:17

It was June. Grades were in, and the school year was over. According to plan, Tom, J.K., Mike, and I embarked upon a Rocky Mountain getaway, only to roll our fifteen passenger van somewhere near the Colorado border. Dean (Tom) Tanner had planned this trip and had invited the three of us, all faculty, to join him for a few days of R & R at Blessing Ranch in Livermore, Colorado.

It all happened so fast. The van began to fishtail as the left rear tire blew. J.K., sitting shotgun, took the brunt of the wreck as the van crashed some fifty feet off the right shoulder and sent us careening before it finally came to a stop. Fearing we were all dead, the man in the car behind us pulled over and cautiously approached. He was quite relieved to find us beaten up but alive, though J.K. had suffered some kind of neck injury which we eventually discovered he had probably first incurred long ago as a kid jumping off a roof and landing squarely on his head. 

The nurse at the Ogallala, Nebraska, emergency room, a complete stranger to us, loaned us her car as we followed J.K.’s ambulance the one-hundred and fifty miles back to Kearney, Nebraska, where he got a CT scan. (Can you imagine loaning your car to bloody, beaten-up strangers for a three-hundred mile round trip early in the morning?) And the next day we set out in a rental car for the ranch, where Dr. John & Deanna Walker hosted us to a blessing we’ll never forget.

We could easily have died that day. But Tom maneuvered the van expertly, even as J.K. prayed while the wreck was unfolding. Mike and I went flying, untethered from the couch we were sitting on, as we and various heavy debris we’d packed went tumbling around the van like rag dolls and rocks in a washing machine. I lost all sense of direction, time, and space. But God had not. He had us, every one, God had us, and we came out relatively unscathed.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” says the proverb. No cliche, this. So many friends. Such adversity. 

Just who are the brothers and sisters who have steadily loved you in the midst of life’s greatest challenges? Who has been there for you during your worst moments in the journey?

Whoa, Father, thank you for Tom, J.K., Mike, that man who pulled over for us, the nurse who loaned us her car, the doctors who cared for us, Emerson (who finally repaired Mike and J.K.’s motorcycles, which we were pulling, some months later), John and Deanna who so blessed us - everyone, every friend, who stood by us during those harrowing moments twenty-two years ago. It’s surely not what we had planned, this blessing, but had it not been for the great kindness of all these people I might long ago have forgotten this trip. Life’s greatest blessings so often come in our worst moments, Father. So please, help us to love our friends at all times and particularly in the midst of their greatest adversity, even as they have loved us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.