It was a chain reaction on Interstate 65 South during rush hour traffic. Car #1 comes up suddenly on a truck and brakes abruptly. Car #2 slams on the brakes but still hits Car #1 from behind, then comes to a complete stop on a road where the speed limit is 70 MPH. Car #3 locks up his brakes but still plows into car #2 and then gets rear-ended by Car #4.
Guess which car I was driving?
Yep, Car #3. I learned later that none of this was considered to be my fault. The way I learned this was by the lawyers calling me to ask if I wanted to sue the driver charged with causing the accident. Feeling exonerated didn’t make me any less sore.
But, the part of all this that bothers me the most is what happened while I was sitting in my smashed car. There I am — counting all my teeth and feeling around for any blood as I wait for the police to interview me. The traffic had been diverted around the four wrecked cars, and a driver going around me on the right side stopped and angrily shouted at me, pointing his finger, “That’s what you get for texting and driving!!!”
Hence the question, “Where did mercy go?”
Even if I had been texting and driving (I wasn’t), is that really what I needed to hear at that moment? If I had road rage, I would have chased the guy down and given him a piece of my mind. But, of course, my car couldn’t move so I would have had to do it on foot. I didn’t.
Can you imagine if he had said this instead; “Hey man, sorry you’ve been in an accident. Are you okay? Is there anyone I could call for you? Praying for you right now!” Or how about this – how about if he had just gone on without saying anything?
Thinking about this has helped me realize how often I offer judgement and punishment when I could offer mercy. It causes me to wonder how often my assumptions about a situation are just as wrong as that guy was when he assumed I was texting and driving. Again, he was wrong because I wasn’t.
God help us have mercy. When we don’t, we become the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. We’ve been forgiven a huge debt and shown great mercy, but we don’t show mercy to anyone else.
I hope I remember that before I pass around someone who has been in a wreck in life and start wagging my finger at them.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.