Leaving This Place

Leaving This Place

The soft spot on the roof of my mouth, toward the back, is burning. My ears burn, too. Sneezes and dizzy spells abound. I’m a fury of hot…no cold…wait a minute…no…hot flashes and red-nosed-ness and crumpled Kleenex. Frustrated in this delay. Who has time for this? Taking on guilt completely unwarranted for being out of the office today. I am my own worst boss. Committed to meeting the appointments of drop off and pick up for the kids, pets. Praying for God to protect my little orange car from missteps, as it’s driver is really feeling yucky.

Mashed potatoes.

I don’t even really want them, but the thought of the smooth, warm creaminess against my sore throat was enough to drive me across town for a family sized container.

This stoplight ALWAYS takes so long. Why does it take so long to give me a green arrow? I’m waiting to turn left beside Virginia College. Then I see it. THERE IT IS!

It is the most luxurious sunset I’ve noticed in a long while. It takes my breath away. Or was that the mentholatum cough drop?

Immediately, in all my achiness and frustration, I think of my Jesus and that day that He has promised to return.

I wonder what the sky will look like.

I often think about the verse in Matthew that says: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And it goes on to say a few verses down, “That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. ”

Lord, I will be taken, right?

I will, won’t I?

Then I wonder what it would feel like to be plucked from all I know by the hand of God and be “gone from this place”.

Will it hurt?

Will I even know it’s happened?

Will it just be like this strange sensation, but not really cold or hot or painful?

Oh, my God, please don’t leave me!

As I look at the beautiful, fading sunset, I catch myself saying outloud, “Jesus come quickly.”

The discomfort of a head cold or flu or whatever bug I have is nothing compared to the strife and pain this world has going on.

And just like that, a voice that has no sound, yet I know it the moment my heart hears it, reminds me, “I have held you before.”

I begin to weep.

Tears. Streaming down. No sobs. Just hot, salty tears birthed from a head that is under pressure. My eyeballs are burning hot. The tears are almost soothing.

I have left this place before.

I have.

It was April 3, 1993. I was 24 years old. Barely so. I was young, and desperately wanting to have control over messy decisions I had made.

Just the day before, I had cried out to God in a moment that was as raw and real as sitting here now. I can feel that same breeze brush across my check, entering through a rolled down window in the driver’s side door of my little blue Accord.

“God, I can’t fix this. There’s nothing I can do to get out of this situation. I’ve tried everything. I need you to help me.”

And just as quickly, the ignition was quieted and I grabbed the car seat with my 8 month old son it it and headed inside.

I didn’t think about my request again. It was a plea, really. But the busyness of being a new momma, an about to graduate (okay, hoping to graduate) college student and an estranged young wife (or is it wife of an estranged husband?) kept me in motion, without another thought – not a single one – of God.

The next afternoon, I stopped. Just stopped. Later I would learn I was involved in a head on collision, but that was later. For several days, I just wasn’t.

It’s been more than 20 years since that fateful accident. It’s something that changed my life forever. Surgeries and lingering pains aside, it’s something I am thankful for, every day.

As my memory started waking, I began piecing together information about the accident (mostly overheard from the conversations around my hospital bed), though I had no personal recollection of the wreck. I have a memory of a vague image of a man with curly dark hair in a red shirt, or at least I think it was red, leaning down, his face in mine. It may have been dark and red colored because of my own blood that flowed from lacerations to my face, and injuries to my left eye. I felt as though his face was close to mine, but I couldn’t make out any features. And I coudln’t hear him. I was telling him quietly, “help me”, as I held my arms crossed in front of me, but I didn’t hear my own voice, and wasn’t really sure why I needed help.

I don’t remember my baby boy crying. I was told he was screaming loudly. Lacerations to his own face and a broken right ankle. I thank God for the stranger who scooped him up and gave him comfort, when I wasn’t even aware there was such a need, nor such a child.

I don’t remember sirens, or any other medical professionals, although I was told there were dozens of vehicles and rescue workers. Mine was not the only car. I don’t recall the “Jaws of Life” as it cut open my mangled hatchback.  And I don’t remember the pain of the jagged metal cutting into my thighs as I was pulled from the pryed open doorframe.

I didn’t hear any loud noises – no car crash.

What I do recall, and this came to me some time  after the accident, was the quiet hum of an ambulance. A couple of years after the accident, I was parked outside of the K-Mart with my window rolled down, and I heard that unmistakable, steady rumble of the idling ambulance engine.  I closed my eyes and I remembered.

I felt a warm heat surrounding me. May have been from the exhaust. Or maybe the sun-baked asphalt.

I could hear swishing, which I believed was the tall highway grass in which I was laying.

I saw a bright light, which I’ve always chalked up to the setting sun, since it was around the time of sunset.

And I saw a flowing, light green, almost sherbert colored green, garment above me, topped with flowing strands of gold that seemed to merge right into the garment. I saw no face.

And I felt peace.

The weeks that followed my “coming to” were filled with a peace that many didn’t understand. I didn’t recognize it as strange. I had great love for the woman in the other car – the car that I later learned was driving down the wrong side of a 4-lane highway before I entered it’s path. As soon as I could, I went down to her hospital room, in my wheelchair. I wanted to meet her. To meet her family. I wanted them to meet my baby son. More than anything, I wanted them to know “it was okay”. I wanted to give them comfort. I didn’t think about it really at all. I was acting on impulses that were not of my own, yet, I coudln’t exactly put in to words why I had them. I just wanted them to know I cared. I felt strangely connected to this family, to this young woman who was driving the strayed car. In a strange, otherworldly way, I felt our paths were crossed with reason.

Gosh, the sky before me is bright, brilliant white, as the sun dips lower and lower. It’s almost a non-color. Goldenish. So illuminated, if that’s possible. Illuminated illumination.

I have forgotten how long this light takes to turn green.
Instead, I had all the time in the world for God to remind me of what it feels like to be held in the palm of His hand.

The hum.

  • The rythym of His creation.

The swishing.

  • His cooing me into calm.

The heat.

  • The warmth of His presence.

The light.

  • His Glory.

The green and gold.
The flowing.

  • The watch of His angels.

And just like that. The green arrow appeared. I pressed the accelerator and continued crying out my praises to My Saviour all the way home.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “

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