My wife called to tell me she was stuck in traffic not far from our home. When she eventually discovered the cause of the highly unusual Saturday midafternoon backup, her heart was filled with sadness.
For it was a fatal accident involving a motorcycle and an SUV.
The biker was traveling west at “a high rate of speed.,” according to a police report. The Nissan SUV was traveling east. When the SUV turned left, the bike collided with the larger vehicle sending its rider flying through the SUV’s windshield like a projectile.
The 28-year-old biker was killed. The 51-year-old husband and 40-year-old wife in the front seat of the SUV sustained fatal injuries. Their 10-year-old daughter and 19-month-old son, riding in the back seat, miraculously survived the wreck, never to see their parents alive again.
My wife mourned for the orphaned children. I couldn’t help being angry at the dead motorcyclist for being so reckless not only with his own life, but with the lives of his victims, who, it turned out, were active members of their Baptist church, where the husband was a youth pastor and his wife a youth advisor who also taught Sunday school.
A few mornings after the tragedy, the Holy Spirit put it on both my heart and my wife’s heart to pray for all those involved. The orphaned children. Their deceased mother and father. The reckless biker. And the grieving families and friends of all.
It stayed on our hearts for some reason until God arranged a divine appointment this past Friday.
We had stopped by our neighborhood bank to take care of a bit of business. When we returned to our vehicle a half-hour or so later, it wouldn’t start for some reason. Instead of driving home directly from the bank, as originally planned, we decided to wait for roadside service at a nearby watering hole.
The place was teeming. There was the usual Friday evening dinner crowd. In the bar area there were St. Patrick’s Day revelers clad in green. And there was another group, wearing black tee shirts, marking some occasion or another.
As it turns out, they were the family and friends of the dead biker, whom they had laid to rest that day. He was a regular at the watering hole. He left behind his wife of two years and their 11-month old daughter.
My wife and I met the biker’s widow, Courtney, who was beautiful from the inside out. Holding back tears, she asked us to pray for her and pray especially for her daughter, whose father will never see her graduate high school or college, never see her marry the love of her life, never see her have children of her own.
The widow described her husband, a lineman, as a “friendly, outgoing person.” He loved his wife very much. And he doted on his baby daughter.
My wife and I were filled with overwhelming compassion for Courtney and grateful for the opportunity to glorify God by showing the young widow loving-kindness.
I repented the anger I had for her deceased husband for his role in the fatal accident. He did not intend to take the lives of his victims. And he paid the forfeit for his recklessness.
I could only imagine how Courtney felt. It was painful enough, no doubt, that she lost her husband, who made a tragic mistake that cost him his life. But she also has to live with the knowledge, the sorrow, the undeserved ignominy that her husband killed two people and left two children parentless.
Yet, those of us who are Christ followers take comfort from the Psalm that promises: “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
My wife and I embraced the biker’s widow and returned to our car to wait for the arrival of road side assistance. On a whim, I put the key in the ignition and turned it. The car started.