It was a Thursday morning. The time that I usually use to catch up with my sister on the phone while I run errands.
I was driving home on a major street in downtown Seattle when a middle-aged man riding his bike to work slipped on a light-rail track. He, along with his bike, tumbled across the double yellow line and into oncoming traffic — specifically, my car.
In a split-second reaction, I swerved into the right lane. I didn’t check my mirrors to make certain the lane was clear. I didn’t slam on the brakes. Either reaction would have resulted in crushing the man. I didn’t hesitate. It was as if a hand placed itself on mine and gently guided the wheel to the right.
When I realized what had happened, I pulled over to the side of the road, flipped on my hazard lights and ran to the man in the street. His knee was bleeding, as was his nose, but otherwise, he was okay. Bystanders called 911 and moved us and his bike onto the sidewalk. In shock, he couldn’t speak but kept his crisp blue eyes locked on me. Our lives had been spared in one second. I felt like we both knew God had somehow intervened.
When the police arrived, they told me to move my car, to leave. I took another look at the man, still in shock, a handful of napkins from someone’s purse at his nose, and said, “You’re going to be alright!” It was more of an exclamation than a declaration. He really was going to be alright—and so was I.
This close call reminded me of a story in the Old Testament. The Israelites were under attack by the Philistines. Outnumbered and in fear for their lives, they begged the prophet Samuel to plead to God for help. Samuel offered a sacrifice and prayed for protection. God heard the Israelites that day. He confused and panicked the Philistines, and the Israelites were victorious. Samuel, knowing God had intervened, marked the moment by placing a stone on the battle line. He named the stone “Ebenezer,” or “stone of help,” to remember God’s aid.
I wish I would have looked down at the street that Thursday morning to glimpse a piece of gravel or even a bottle cap to commemorate the day. When I returned home, I noticed a small plastic heart my son had given me the day before, not knowing the grief and tragedy we’d soon be spared. I slipped it into my coat pocket to mark the moment, my own tiny Ebenezer.
I know this isn’t the only occasion in my life to mark with an Ebenezer. I shared this story with a friend, and she reminded me of a few more miraculous moments from my life and hers. Perhaps one comes to your mind now, as you remember how God rescued you, a time when only God could have saved you.
On the days when I wear that coat, I find myself caressing the tiny heart, remembering God’s provision and humming the lines from that great old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”:
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood