A few days ago, I was the first on-scene at a road traffic accident in Great Bentley. It happened at the notorious staggered junction outside ‘The Court House’. I had just arrived at the junction and had slowed to see if the road was clear for me to pull out. As I looked to my right, away from the junction, there was a loud, crunching thud. It was the kind of metal-grinding, plastic-popping and glass shattering noise that instantly tells you something is very wrong!
Two other drivers approaching from different directions had failed to make the necessary checks or judgements and collided. Their cars were in the middle of the road making the kind of entwined embrace that neither owners nor manufacturers had ever intended.
Airbags had been deployed and drivers were still in their cars and moving, but clearly in some distress. I pulled over to a safe place and went to the drivers, one at a time, to see what help I could give. Both drivers were now getting out of their cars, but both were dazed, upset and in some discomfort. My immediate focus was to check their medical condition, get them safely to the roadside and give comfort in the f ace of their trauma.
Within moments, a second vehicle pulled up – a Highways Agency van. He was already wearing a hi-vis jacket so set to work guiding all subsequent traffic around the scene as safely as possible.
Then a third vehicle, this time a lady with a phone who duly contacted the police and fire service to report the incident.
Then a passing ambulance stopped to confirm the status of injuries before proceeding to another job, and after a further period of time, first a fire engine arrived to extricate the cars and clean up the road surface, followed by a policeman who then took charge of the scene.
None of the people involved intended to meet one another that day, and none of us had planned to be there or intended to do what we had to do. However, each individual slotted into a necessary role to enable all parties involved to get through this little melodrama.
Later that day, as I drove home past the cleared scene, I was struck by how much the people involved in these unintended events were a picture of our role as God’s people in a world strewn with crises.
“The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”
Through imperfection, mistakes and simply life in our fallen world, every day can be like a car crash for someone nearby. Relationships collide, illness strikes, and people find themselves hurt, dazed and in real distress as unplanned events explode all around them. Such events can happen to anyone, but part of our role as God’s people is to pitch-in and do what we can to make things better. Sometimes we might be first on the scene, for example with our own families or neighbours, whilst at other times we just make a phone call or two and provide support. In the social collisions of our day, we can make a difference!
As we begin another year, I wonder if we recognise the position God asks us to undertake for him on behalf of others. Are we willing to step up when chaos ensues, and be the someone who is needed to just do ‘something?’ Could such incidents cropping up along our own journeys be the very mission field he is laying out in which we can serve? Of course, we could pass by on the other side, mistakenly intent on pursuing our prior objectives. On occasion, however, we might just be called upon to stop, notice, and ask what can I do?