AT PEACE WHEN TRAGEDY KNOCKED
By: Blair and Beth Bartlett
Do you believe in miracles? We do. My wife and I have been Christians since early childhood and throughout the years we have been truly amazed in God's faithfulness towards us and how He has kept his loving protective hands upon us throughout our walk with Him.
Over and over he has manifested Himself in various ways, which confirms to us that there is indeed a loving and benevolent God who watches over those who serves Him. Psalm 139: 13-16 eloquently states:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
On December 15th, 2004 my wife and I were in a horrific motor vehicle accident and by all accounts we should have been seriously injured, if not killed. Instead, by the grace and mercy of God, we miraculously escaped from our demolished 1995 Windstar minivan with no broken bones, no internal injuries involving vital organs and no cuts that needed stitches. Surely the Lord had his hand upon us!
The night before the accident I worked a 12 hour shift at my place of employment and knocked off work the morning of the 15th. After I had a nap we departed for a day of Christmas shopping up in Moncton, New Brunswick. (We had been planning to go up there in previous weeks and take my parents along but the weather wasn't the best so we stayed put. We finally left on the 15th but for some reason I did not feel like inviting my parents along so we went by ourselves.)
I was still tired and sleepy so my wife did the driving while I slept in the front passenger seat. We were traveling along a four lane divided highway at approximately 110 kilometers per hour when my wife became drowsy because of the heat. She closed her eyes for an instant and we drifted over to the left hand shoulder. My wife came to when she heard the sound of gravel and also the sound of the van hitting a metal highway marker. She tried to get the van under control and veered to the right, crossed both lanes, went down an incline and according to paramedic Keith Jarvis, rolled the van at least once or twice and hit a rock wall head on. The distance between the damaged highway marker and where we ended up at was approximately 70 paces or so. (Another 10 seconds farther down on the road we could have gone off a bridge and fallen into a steep ravine.)
Damage to the van was substantial and it was written off by our insurance company. The windshield was shattered, rear window was smashed out, four side windows were smashed out, three out of four tires blew, both air bags deployed and the van's frame twisted and dented beyond repair.
When all mayhem was breaking loose all around us I can truthfully say before God that I did not see any damage being done nor did I hear any damage being done. I also did not feel any kind of impact whatsoever when we crashed into the rock wall. To me it was if we just pulled over and parked!
The only thing that I remember about it is my wife calling my name, opening my eyes and seeing that we were heading precariously close towards a rock face that seemed to be almost right on top of us. I remember thinking that we were going to be killed but yet I had complete peace of mind about it. The reason being is that I always believed that your life can be snuffed out without warning so I always made it a point to make sure that I was right with the Lord. I have known a lot of people around my age that were killed in accidents and the majority were not Christians that I know of. (According to my wife I raised my hand to protect my face.)
The next sequence that I remember is realizing that we were stopped and I turned to my wife and asked her if she was okay and tried to reassure her. She had blood on her face and I asked her where the cell phone was. (We had purchased the cell phone several weeks before that in case of an emergency.) She replied that it was in her purse and I retrieved it. At that time I spotted a gentleman walking towards us and when he reached the van, I handed him our cell phone and asked him to call 911. When he was calling, I started to move around a little bit to see if there was anything broken. I had a drop of blood on the front of my nose, a few little specks on my hands where the glass sprayed and a little bit of discomfort below in my lower back on the left side but other than that I felt okay. Being truly amazed that we survived this harrowing ordeal, I got out and took several photographs of the wreckage. The bystanders were starting to get concerned about me walking around so I sat back down in the van and one of them covered me with a blanket in case of shock. They were also looking after my wife. In hardly any time at all the Mounties, fire department and the paramedics arrived.
I informed one of the paramedics that I had already been walking around but he advised me to be on the safe side, I should have a cervical collar on and be strapped securely on a spine board. Not wanting to take any chances in case complications set in, I concurred and they did the same with my wife. We were transported in separate ambulances to the Sussex health centre which was only around 10 kilometers away. While there they examined us, took blood pressures, took x-rays and administered tetanus shots because of the broken glass. The x-rays came back negative, meaning no broken bones! They kept us for observation for a few hours and then discharged us with basically a clean bill of health. They did however prescribe an ointment for the bruise on my wife's cheek.
Victims have been in lesser accidents and fared much worse even to the point of losing their lives! Since our mishap there have been six people killed in four separate accidents in our area, the latest was a school teacher driving home from a March Break trip. According to newspaper reports the accident was possibly caused by driver's fatigue and it happened just a few minutes from where we had our accident. More chillingly it happened at the same time of morning (around 10:30) under the same road conditions.
A friend of ours who is a deputy sheriff down in Maine stated to us that anytime he responded to an accident that involved a van rolling over it was "bad". Occasionally they would get a "breather," (someone still living) but not always. Another individual that we were in touch with said that she believes that we were "divinely protected". She is a former registered nurse and paramedic so she should know.
This is not the only time that the Lord has protected us on the highway. Less than two years ago we were heading to Hampton Bible Camp to volunteer our services for a week. My wife was driving and I had a strong inclination to advise her to reduce her speed in case a deer ran across the road in front of us. I let her know what I was thinking and she slowed down. No more than five minutes later a deer ran across the road, which was only a few feet away from us! That was the first time in all these years driving along that particular stretch of highway that we ever saw a deer. Coincidence? You decide!
As Christians, we do not understand why things happen but at the same time we should remember Romans 8: 28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
We believe that the Lord spared us to be a witness to him and to bring him the glory that he deserves. If our testimony encourages just one person, it will be worth it all!
BLAIR AND BETH BARTLETT
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