I, and four of my children, had an instructive and edifying time at the HEAV convention this past weekend. From Doug Phillips’ keynote address Friday morning on the providence of God in history to the inspiring workshops to shopping in the Exhibit Hall, we passed a very busy, tiring, but spiritually refreshing two days.
On Friday afternoon, mid-convention, we buckled our weary selves in the minivan and began the trek home. Oh, boy – I-95. We found our entrance ramp without a hitch and headed north – Richmond, Henrico County, Hanover County, Caroline County, and then Spotsylvania County. As we traveled along the busy highway, we each shared accounts of our day. After things quieted down, my 20-year-old son, David, who was driving, put his new Doug Phillips CD in the player. Doug reminded us of the lessons Job learned in severe adversity: God is sovereign and no one can question His ways.
We entered Stafford County – aaaaahhhh, only a few more exits to go. After passing through a rough downpour with extremely limited visibility further south, we were especially relieved to be nearing the safety of home. Sam was fast asleep and Emily and Sarah were quietly taking in the passing scenery. Then David looked in the rearview mirror and in a measured, foreboding tone I will never forget said, “Oh, my word.” Instinctively, I looked in the passenger-side mirror just in time to see a light-colored Toyota Corolla careening from side to side in the middle lane of the highway. A split second later it lost control completely and veered directly into the path of a tractor-trailer in the right lane. The truck tried vainly to avoid a collision, slamming violently into the passenger side of the Toyota, pushing it with massive force up the right lane and off the road.
I have never seen so horrible a scene. I felt sure that I had just witnessed someone getting killed. I’m afraid my response was anything but reasonable and calm. I screamed at the top of my lungs over and over and over. My son’s instinct was to pull off the road immediately and dial 911 but as he pulled onto the shoulder I screamed, “No! no! no! Get off the highway! Get off the highway!” I was terrified that we would be hit, although it looked as though all the traffic behind us just got further and further away.
We pulled off at the next exit and into a McDonald’s parking lot where I lost control of my emotions altogether. I can only imagine what I must have looked like to the others in the lot – a middle-aged woman rocking back and forth, hands covering her face, screaming and crying, “I just saw someone die!”
The experience was singular and I hope never to repeat it. One good thing emerged from the horror, however. My son and my 14-year-old daughter, Emily, rushed to my aid, proving themselves stronger in mind and spirit than their mother. David called home so my husband could speak to me and calm me down. While he was explaining the situation, Emily held me and reminded me of Doug Phillips’ words earlier that day: “There are no accidents. God is in complete control. Whatever the circumstances, God is sovereign and every detail of the universe is in His control.” I was not raised in a Christian home. I did not learn the truth of God’s sovereignty until I was well into my twenties. It takes me hours, sometimes days to find the peace that my children find in minutes. How dear, how precious to have children who are grounded in what is really important in life and who, by God’s grace, confidently place their trust in Him.
When we arrived home I spent a few private minutes praying and regaining my composure. Initially, I canceled my plans to return to the convention. As the evening progressed, however, I felt a strong nudge from the Holy Spirit urging me to rethink my faithless response and trust God to protect me. I often say to my children that most people think the worst thing that can happen to a person is to die, but the truth is we all die; the worst thing that can happen to a person is to die without Christ and spend eternity in hell. Wouldn’t fearing the highway, choosing to miss out on the blessing of the convention be a cowardly, weak reaction? I knew that I needed to walk my talk. I would be going back to the convention after all.
The next morning during his keynote address, Ken Ham stressed that our children are the only things we invest in that will live on through eternity. He related the profound influence his godly father had upon his life as well as his own efforts to be a godly influence on his children and grandchildren. For the first time, I got a very real sense that homeschooling had the power to affect, not only my children, but many generations of their descendants. For these unborn, unknown relations I resolved to put my dishonoring fears to rest and instead fear God and God alone.
During Anne Miller’s workshop on teaching boys, her youngest son expressed eloquently the most important advantage of homeschooling: the godly atmosphere. I doubt my children would have responded Friday afternoon with the same confidence in God’s control if they had spent the better part of their waking hours surrounded by ungodly peers, teachers and textbooks. How grateful I am to have been graciously led by God to homeschool my children – a decision my husband and I made before they were even born.
I spent Saturday afternoon chatting with author, Connie Lapallo, about the writing of her book, Dark Enough to See the Stars in a Jamestown Sky. I’m only on page 22, but already I see God repeating the theme for the weekend: trust Him and fear Him alone. “Where the hand of God leads me, the hand of God saves me,” says a character in the book. The same character goes on to say, “But the hand of God is not the hand of misfortune, even when it seems so. Even in death, it rescues.”
God has used the entire HEAV convention experience, including the trips to and from, to put my focus back on Christ and eternity. I pray that I will retain the lessons learned, by His grace, and that my great-great-great-great grandchildren will be found in Him on the Last Day.
NOTE: There was nothing on the internet or the local newspaper
about the accident, so I am concluding, thankfully, that no one was
actually injured in spite of what it appeared like at the time.