I heard something on the news last night that has been haunting me. Apparently, the driver of a car parked on the shoulder of I-75 (north of Dayton) decided to try to get back onto the interstate, but did so without properly checking oncoming traffic. The car pulled onto the road, causing another vehicle to lose control and set off a chain of accidents that left one person dead and many more severely injured. The car that started it all drove safely away and it’s unclear whether or not they were/are even aware of the damage left in their wake.
In a matter of seconds, the lives of innumerable family and friends were changed irreversibly, all due to the carelessness of one driver. My guess is the driver of the car who caused this tragic accident had absolutely no intention of doing so. There’s even a chance they don’t know anything about the accident.
The lessons we can draw from this tragedy are many. For one, it is a reminder that death can come to us anytime and anywhere without warning. When Jesus was approached by his disciples after some Jews were killed by the collapse of the Tower of Siloam collapsed on them, he asked them all a question: “…do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” (Luke 13:1-5) Another way of saying this might be, “Don’t think the same thing couldn’t happen to you! Death can come for you at any time so always be ready; always be right with God and with each other.”
Another lesson we learn from this is that sometimes even our smallest decisions and actions can have momentous consequences. Somewhere, right now, someone is very likely racked with guilt and shame knowing their thoughtlessness caused so much destruction. They may not have intended for such a horrible thing to happen, but nonetheless it was avoidable. Simply taking a little more time and care could have changed everything.
It is so important to remember even a careless word or comment can create damage of which you may not be aware. It is not all right to go through life causing pile-ups and destruction wherever you go. Just because you may be unhappy about some circumstance in your own life does not give you license to sow seeds of negativity, cynicism, and anger in the lives of others. God put you in this world to be a light. Whenever you catch yourself being careless with the hearts of others, it is important to stop and remember how even the smallest gestures can have dramatic effect – both for good and bad.
Finally, it is important to remember even in the midst of the worst the world can do, God is faithful. At the heart of our faith is both Good Friday… and Easter. We neither turn away from the reality of sin or death nor do we seek to discount its power. No matter how repellent, the cross stands firmly in the middle of our story. Death and sin are real and so are their consequences. But in the end there is life – abundant and eternal. As the Psalmist wrote, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) The light has come into the world and the darkness has not overcome it! You have a choice to make, every day. For God’s sake, choose the light.