One of the hardest questions to answer as a Christian is: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and the flip side of this is: “Why does God let some people survive near-death or tragic events?” I think these are questions we often ask ourselves and have a difficult time answering. I haven’t had many scrapes with death but one event sticks out in my mind that make me ask “Why was I spared?”
It was February 16, 1992. The reason the date sticks out in my mind is because it was Kelly’s Birthday. Me, Kelly, now my wife, her sister, Kim, and my cousin Shane Canon, had gone to Montgomery to eat at Olive Garden. Back then, Auburn had almost no “fine dining” establishments. So we made the 30-minute trek to Montgomery to celebrate Kelly’s Birthday. The evening was very innocent, no drinking, no partying, just a simple birthday dinner.
For some reason, Kim drove. Why we chose to ride with Kim is beyond me. Not because she was a bad driver but because she drove a Ford Festiva. If you don’t remember the Festiva, it was the step-brother to the Yugo. It was basically an engine and four seats crammed into a small metal box and it was barely big enough to hold all four of us.
So, here we are cruising at a max speed of 55, (maybe 60 down hill) back to Auburn from Montgomery. I was in the back seat with Kelly with no seat belt on because I was laying my head in Kelly’s lap. As I’m lying there, I look up and notice a tractor-trailer truck was beside us. It looked enormous from inside the pint-sized Festiva. We were in the right lane and the truck was in the left lane. We were close to the truck’s cab when I noticed the blinker lighting up. He was coming over. I nervously told Kim that I thought the truck was coming over. She punched the Festiva which can go from 55 up to 60 in approximately 40 seconds. We got to the very front of the truck when he finally made his move.
The Festiva hadn’t been quick enough. The big rig caught our left rear quarter panel around the tire. We were sent spinning in front of the massive truck at 55 miles-per-hour and then the truck hit us again. The second contact caused us to begin spinning. We spun four or five time through the median. After what seemed like forever, the Festiva quit spinning, and we came to rest in the West-bound lane. Luckily no cars were coming. We were all sitting in the car in a state of shock…..Then like a scene out of any good action flick, Kim cries out “IT’S GONNA BLOW!”…….My cousin, Shane has his doctorate in Physics and I consider myself to be a pretty rational guy but in that moment I believed Kim with all my heart when she said it was gonna blow. We jumped out of the car as if it were on fire. After a moment or two, Shane and I looked at each other. We were both thinking the same thing…no smoke, no fire, probably not gonna blow. So we proceeded to push the car out of the road before any traffic ran over us and the Festiva. We were all safe and unharmed from the vehicular acrobats. We eventually made it back to Auburn that night. (after a flat tire and a two-mile walk down the interstate).
I have travelled that stretch of interstate many times since that mishap. It is one of the few places between Montgomery and Auburn that has a flat median, doesn’t have trees, and doesn’t have guard rails. Basically, it is the only place that this could have happened where we wouldn’t have been more seriously injured or worse.
So why were we spared while others aren’t so fortunate? Maybe God had bigger plans for all of us. Kelly and I went on to get married and have been so for almost 20 years. We have two beautiful children and Kim has been a fantastic Aunt to our girls. My cousin Shane has also been married for the same amount of time and has three children. Is that why we were we spared?
I’m not sure that it is our place to question God’s plans for our lives or others. I think our responsibility is to make the most of second chances and help those who haven’t been as fortunate. We need to make the most of second chances because the next time God’s plans may have different result.
In honor of the Ford Festiva - Named Marc Scarbrough’s - ”1992 Car of the Year”