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The wrong exit!
In the palm of His pierced hand
Ted had his whole trip to Atlanta arranged. He was going to the wedding of one his old college buddies. After graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering four years preciously he had taken a job in Orlando working for a firm that serviced defence contracts. He kept busy working 60 to 80 hour weeks depending on the deadlines they had to meet.
Ted had little time for a social life but he did not complain as he had no time to pursue a relationship anyway. So on this Friday afternoon, Ted left work a little earlier than usual. He planned on taking a short nap and then driving the six hours to his friends' place.
Two hours later, Ted got into his sports car and drove down Interstate 4 (I-4). By then all traffic was gone and he could drive at speed limit so he put the vehicle on cruise control, turned up the music and got ready to enjoy the trip. All he had to do was look out for the exit that would take him to I-95 and he would be on his way, literary a straight shot from there.
Well, he got onto I-95 alright but due to a wreck there was a slight detour. He followed the signs and figured it would mean an extra thirty minutes added to his trip. He was glad he had taken a nap. He was fresh and would manage the trip easily without the help of Red Bull or Monster for that matter. After two hours driving it occured to him that he was not seeing any familiar signs but again he had not driven up to Atlanta in almost two years. The last two trips he had flown in the interest of time when he went to his best friend's wedding and later to their baby's first birthday.
Well after another hour of driving Ted decided to take the next exit and ask for directions. He now wished he had bought that GPS. As soon as he came off the exit ramp he saw the wreckage of a vehicle. He could not make out what kind of vehicle it was because it was completely totalled. He pulled up alongside it and with a flashlight he quickly peered inside. What he saw tore at his heart. He quickly got his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed 911. He had no idea where they were but the despatcher told him they could track his location via satelite.
He looked into the vehicle again and broke the glass of the driver's window with his car jack. He could see a young lady inside. He felt her pulse. It is faint but steady. There was blood on her face but she seemed to be breathing and holding her own. It had been a while since Ted had prayed aloud. He put his hand softly on the young woman's shoulder and prayed aloud. He spoke to the Lord and interceded on her behalf. He prayed that she would pull through and that her injuries were not life-threatening.
The paramedics got there promptly and quickly tooked her out of the vehicle. They checked for her ID and asked her if there was anyone they could call to be with her. She whispered that she was all alone in the world. Then it seemed she gently slipped into unconsciousness. Ted found himself driving behind the ambulance to the hospital about ten miles from the scene of the accident. He told himself he just wanted to assure himself she was going to be alright.
At the ER he asked if he could stay by her side until they prepped her for surgery. He was allowed to stay and found himself waiting anxiously while she underwent a three-hour surgery to take care of her left lung which had collapsed. Later he learned that she had come off the exit ramp at an exceptionally high speed and that had caused her vehicle to roll three times. The impact of the air-bag had caused her lung to collapse and also made her nose bleed. Other than that she had gotten off really lightly given the circumstances.
Ted stayed by her bedside until she awoke from the effects of the general anesthesia. When she opened her eyes she smiled at Ted. He was overwhelmed by her beauty and felt as if he had died and gone to heaven. He had had no romantic interest in any girl for about two years and here he was in the most unexpected place, having taken the wrong exit and feeling as if Cupid's arrow had gone right through his heart.
Ted called his friends in Atlanta so they would not worry about him. He made the decision to hang around and make sure Celia was going to be alright. He felt he owed her that much. On her part, Celia opened her eyes and upon seeing the man the nurses had taken to calling her knight in shining armor, she smiled and right there, won his heart.
The second day she was able to sit up for a few minutes at a time. They spent many hours chatting or just enjoying the silence. They listened to music together and talked about their favorite musicians. They felt as if they had known each other for years. On the third day Ted asked Celia where she was headed when she had the accident. It turned out that she too was headed to Atlanta. She had taken the detour, driven for a while and figured that she might have gotten lost. She had rented a vehicle and therefore did not have the benefit of the GPS which she always had in her own vehicle.
"Oh, I was headed to Atlanta too. Do you have family or friends there?" Ted asked.
"Actually I was going to my girlfriend's wedding. She and I were in high school together, then onto college where we both played on the volleball team," Celia explained.
How interesting that they were both headed to weddings of their college buddies, both got lost because of the detour and ended up here. What Celia said next absolutely threw Ted for a loop.
"She is a really great girl, Nadia is. I believe her husband-to-be is a very lucky man. I don't know him. They met two years ago. He studied chemical engineering and is a consultant with an aeronautical engineering firm in Atlanta."
Ted's eyes almost fell out of their sockets. "You were going to Dave's wedding? Wait a minute. Here is the wedding invitation card. His bride's name is Nadia. Oh wow!"
"Yea, Nadia is getting married to a guy named Dave. She says he is wonderful," she said with some hesitation.
"Take it from me Celia, Nadia could not be marrying a better man. I have known Dave for six years and he is a great guy" Ted told her of many things about Dave's character such as honesty and integrity that warmed her heart.
Ted had one question for Celia, "What did you think as your car spun out of control and started rolling?"
This is what she said, "You know Ted, the words of the song, 'Jesus take the wheel' came to mind and I remember saying them aloud over and over again until I guess I lost consciousness. I felt this peace come over me and I knew whatever happened I would be okay. I knew that if I died in that wreck, my Lord would be beckoning me home. This place is not my home...I am just passing through. I was at peace in that split second when I realized I was going to crash."
"Celia, what was it that gave you such peace?" Ted asked.
"Well, it is the certainty that I have eternal life because Jesus Christ, the Son of God died on the Cross at Calvary and thereby cleansed me of my sin and gave me eternal life. That is where my peace comes from."
That morning after hours of discussing their faith, Celia led Ted to Christ. Their joy was so contagious that two nurses also came to know Christ that morning. They made the call together to the newly-weds to wish them well and let them know that Celia was doing much better. They also shared their good news of Ted's salvation. The bridal couple were ecstatic over the news.
Two years later as Ted stood by the alter watching his bride, Celia, in a magnificent wedding gown, walk down the aisle towards him he looked up to the heavens and thanked the Lord for that wrong exit that turned out to be the right turn for the rest of his life.
It's not what happens to us that matters, rather it is what we do with what happens that changes the course of our lives. Above all, we find blessings in surrendering ourselves to Christ. Will you let "Jesus take the Wheel (in your life today)?