Fear Not

April 24, 2009 | 26 comments

I was miles away before I realized what I had forgotten.

My thoughts were preoccupied by a grocery list, a letter to mail, a song pulsing through the mini-van speakers. I drove along the highway under mid-afternoon sun, with daily distractions and songs of praise collaborating to put space between me and The Thing I had forgotten.

Then, in one jarring moment, memory corrected me. I remembered The Thing I had forgotten:
My car accident.

I have been driving past the accident scene two times a week for the past three months, to and from the campus where I teach. Each time I drove by, I would relive the moment of impact near a towering line of leafless trees, next to an open field of harvest stubble.

I would recall the oncoming car spinning into my lane. The crush of steel on steel. The spinning. The air-bag.

Then I’d remember the silence …

Then I’d remember the pain …

But on this new day, the memory had temporarily floated into a sea of forgetfulness. I held my hand to my mouth in delightful surprise, and spoke aloud: “Thank you, God.”

Maybe this was the way past fear — the passage of time, a series of distractions and a fading memory of pain.

And then came this:

“Go back and face your fear.”


***

“Fear not, for I am with you.”Isaiah 41:10

I didn’t go back that day. It wasn’t time, for duties of home waited. Facing my fear would come another day.

Today was that day.

I parked in an old farm driveway, next to the line of trees, now beginning to bud. I grabbed my camera, and stepped out into unknown territory, inching toward the place where fear took root. One foot in front of the other, this is how I’d confront fear: by walking straight into it.


***

Stepping over a log, and into a ditch, my feet kicked at corn leaves and brushed through crab-grass. The wind tore across a field, blowing dirt at me this time, instead of the snow that blasted through the broken window of my crushed Toyota Sienna van three months earlier.

Then came the urgent, inaudible whisper in my spirit: Here. Right here now. Stop.

No, not yet, I replied, for my van landed farther up the way. That’s where I need to go …

No, right here, I tell you.

So I’m standing there, in an Iowa ditch with cars passing by at 55 miles per hour, stilled by a voice that no ears could hear, not even my own. But why?

I look down to see a glint of silver shining up at me. At my feet is the Toyota emblem from the front of my crashed van.


And then, just a few steps away, lay more pieces: chunks of my tan-colored van intermingled with fist-sized maroon pieces of the other car.

I scooped up three pieces of my van, and the emblem. With newness of spring around me, I stood speechless, except for this small offering: “O, praise You.”

I retraced my steps to my new van, with four pieces of junk and a new bit of courage — all found in a ditch on Highway 75.


***

I brought the pieces home tonight, and as I sit here with fingertips to keyboard, I pause to cup these souvenirs of grace in grateful hands …

Overcoming my fear had nothing to do with forgetting that this happened to me. Rather, overcoming my fear had everything to do with remembering He held me through it.

by | April 24, 2009 | 26 comments

26 Comments

  1. AADI

    By the grace of God u r safe. Rather we all are safe and happily living, so, I thank him as u thanked for the mercy and love he shows upon his children even when they disobey him.
    Thanks a lot for ur motivational write up , keep it up and cheers !

    Jai ho ! ( An Indian exclamation for reverence).

    Reply
  2. sharilyn

    thanks for that, jennifer. how true it is that God is in the midst of this life–its highs and its lows–with us. knowing that, really knowing that, makes each day do-able… i’m proud of you for facing your fear…taking the steps.. and i am blessed to hear how God met you there… in that moment and in that place. i love that He gave you the tokens of remembrance…and especially the emblem from the van. (hmmmm. it sort of looks like a cross, doesn’t it?!)

    God is good… how’s that Y coming along?

    Reply
  3. Billy Coffey

    What an amazing display of God’s love and holy protection. And also a perfect description of how we handle fear- walking straight into it.

    Your posts about the aftermath of your accident were among the best posts I’ve ever read. But what I remember more was the immediate reaction of so many people you’ve never met, praying for your safety and recovery. The angels were there with you. So were a lot of us.

    Reply
  4. Lori

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Keep up the God work, Jennifer. Your stories encourage me.
    Lori

    Reply
  5. Chris Godfredsen

    How cool is that? As you obediently face your fear – walking right into it – he stops you. And then reveals to you the emblem and other visual signs of his grace and mercy in your life.

    Kathy and I have talked a lot about this topic this week. Not your accident, but about fulling coping and dealing with stuff – taking it head on, all of it with this knowledge “fear not, for I am with you.”

    Praising God for this moment in your life, this moment of restoration where he is again Exalted.

    YHWH!!!

    Reply
  6. Chris Godfredsen

    How cool is that? As you obediently face your fear – walking right into it – he stops you. And then reveals to you the emblem and other visual signs of his grace and mercy in your life.

    Kathy and I have talked a lot about this topic this week. Not your accident, but about fulling coping and dealing with stuff – taking it head on, all of it with this knowledge “fear not, for I am with you.”

    Praising God for this moment in your life, this moment of restoration where he is again Exalted.

    YHWH!!!

    Reply
  7. Julie

    Wow! You gave me goosebumps! What a great reminder that fear doesn’t have to paralyze us- as long as we focus on Him instead of the fear!

    Celebrating with you!

    Reply
  8. christy rose

    wow! I loved your testimony!

    Overcoming fear is definitely the result of knowing His love, mercy, grace and protection in the midst of all of our circumstances.

    Being able to go past the place in which your accident happened and not be reminded of the horror of it all is a story of even more of the greatness of what God’s grace can do in healing us from our past. Praise God!!

    Reply
  9. Lindy

    What an amazing story of the wonderful love of God! Thanks.

    Reply
  10. Lyla Lindquist

    Once again, I am struck by the contrast between your spirit working through the after parts of your accident and that of a lot of the folks that I deal with in my daily work as a claim handler. For So many are sure that a big ol’ settlement check from me will bring them all the closure they need to pick up and move on. Few would walk with Jesus to the scene, let Him use and let Him heal. Keep walking with Him wherever this takes you . . . I’m convinced there’s more He plans to do . . .

    Reply
  11. Sockrma18

    WOW. That is AMAZING. I too had a terrible car accident in January…of 2000. I have yet to get “past” it and my fear of winter driving is sometimes irrational. How totally cool that God led you to the remaining parts of your van and you listened when He told you to stop. I L.O.V.E. when God shows up and we hear Him. He is always there….it’s our foolish human minds that block Him out most days.

    You are very brave and KUDOS to you for walking head on into your fear! God is soooo good!

    Becki

    Reply
  12. God's Not Finished With Us Yet...

    I’m so glad you obeyed and faced your fears. That is so awesome that in your obedience he spoke to you. I love how you ended this; that facing your fears had nothing to do with forgetting what happened but rather that He held you through it safely. Do you still have the ‘Y’ on your leg?
    Great post Jennifer!!! You’re always such a blessing!

    Reply
  13. Darlene

    your writing is riveting, friend. the lessons God is showing you through this experience… you are blessing all of us through the sharing of it all.

    Reply
  14. Denise

    Since I am new to your blog, I will be going back in your archives and catching up on this moment of impact.

    If we could only remember “fear not for I am with you”! We blind ourselves to His presence. He is there – always there! Frame that emblem my friend as a visual reminder of God’s loving presence! Sometimes we need those tangible reminders and you were given one today.

    Shalom,
    Denise

    Reply
  15. elaine @ peace for the journey

    that’s something to ponder…

    How thankful I am for the continuing provision of God’s gracious hands of my behalf and on behalf of the drivers in the family. We’ve had some scary moments along the way.

    So glad for your safety and for you ability to face the fear that seeks to consume.

    Time and God’s healing hands are a grateful coupling.

    peace~elaine

    Reply
  16. Andrea

    I praised God with you as I read. What an awesome testimony – the protection of God during the accident and the handiwork of His grace that brought you through fear.

    Thank you so much for sharing an experience that inspires praise and faith.

    Blessings,
    Andrea

    Reply
  17. Pamela (His maidservant)

    Wow…and what an awesome attitude you have. Most of us would live in the fear and not the reality of God’s sweet protection.

    Beautiful.

    In His Graces~Pamela

    Reply
  18. Alleluiabelle

    Again, I’m blown away. He is just so very awesome, so very, very awesome! He led you to the exact place and He let you take away pieces and the emblum from your car. I’m speechless, but then He does that with me. He puts me in a place of total awe. You are blessed Jennifer. As Bill Coffey said, the angels were with you. I love to hear testimonies like this.

    Love you Jennifer,
    Alleluiabelle

    Reply
  19. Angie Vik

    I was blessed by your post. I’m reminded of a poem I read years ago with a repeating line that emphasized, “further along you’ll understand.” One day we’ll know God’s reasons for our hard times.

    I’ve been in three car accidents and that after fear is hard to shake. It was also hard to let my kids drive because I know firsthand the dangers of driving. I hit a UPS truck ten years ago so I’m reminded everytime I see a UPS truck.
    Blessings as you continue to heal.

    Reply
  20. Angie

    The first post of your accident was my initial visit to GDwJesus via High Calling. I was moved then, am moved now.

    Isaiah 41:10 is my life verse, what brought me to Him. You bring it to life for me again. For some reason here lately I have had the irrational fear of being in a car accident. I lay it down after reading this. Thank you.

    Praise Him for His keeping power–for you, for me, for all of us!

    Reply
  21. Groovy Mom

    Oh wow. Amen and amen!! Thanks for sharing this. I have chills and am a bit teary?

    My son was recently hit by a car, right across the road from my house. It was terrifying and I felt that same terror when reading your story. He held me through it, too. I could not have made those moments alone. Thank you for sharing this. I truly, truly needed to read it today.

    Reply
  22. Marcus Goodyear

    That picture of the Toyota emblem in the leaves is something else.

    We are so glad you are recovering, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

    Reply
  23. hope42day

    This post gave me goosebumps. It is a testimony that with God at the wheel of not only our cars, but our lives, anything can be overcome and miracles can be seen. Praises for your safety and His Hand being there in all ways and always. Blessings my friend…

    Reply
  24. Monica

    Your thanking and praising out loud, your keeping the pieces as a memorial to His protection, your remembering…I thank God for these lessons and reasons to praise.
    And I thank God, too, out loud, for your life.

    Reply
  25. Jennifer

    You have all touched me more than words can adequately express. Sometimes, it can feel risky to expose our inner selves like this, but then — when a soul is encouraged in the way you’ve encouraged me here over the last three months — well … this soul has been lifted.

    Thank you for that. Thank you for your prayers — now and ever since that day on Jan. 17.

    Thank you. What else can I say? Thank you. No other words can express it … except ‘thank you.’

    Reply
  26. Prairie Chick

    Jennifer, you are so beautiful, I just adore you. I am going to be sharing another part of your story tonight to the women at church. I pray and know it is going to stir people up to be vulnerable and real and to give God the glory for scars that testify to His seeing us through.

    Reply

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