That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

More Time, and Righteousness, Credited to My Account

I’m not supposed to be here.

I’m not supposed to be typing, and double-checking, and breathing right now.

Saturday night, Kathy went to the store to get us something to eat. The line being too long, she left without it. Sam’s Club has these really big oranges in this really big bag for a really low price, and I had to have some, so I jumped in the car to go get them.

I am a lead-footed driver, and I like D’angelo. I was indulging in both. The expressway is about a half mile from our house, and I was on it quickly and and moving swiftly, about eighty or ninety, weaving past those without 265 horsepower at their disposal. The music was blasting and I was feeling pretty good, having spent a whole week with my wife and my babies. Being a husband and a father with so much now to lose, I don’t drive like I used to, but this was such a short trip…

I was in and out of the store in ten minutes. The off ramp where I get off does not merge for those — like me — going left. There is a two-lane stop. As I approached, I saw that an suv, a Tahoe, as in the left lane, and that the right lane was empty. I took the right lane so that when the light turned green, I could jump out quickly and beat the Tahoe on my left. I was racing the whole world and winning.

The music enveloped me — “…she’s alwayyys in my hair, my haiiiiir!” — and I was focused on that red light like a drag racer, ready to launch!

The light turned green! Ready… Set…

For some reason now, I didn’t hit the gas. There was no voice that spoke.

I couldn’t see around the hulking Tahoe from my Maxima, but I noticed that the Tahoe didn’t move either. I’m talking about a span of about one second.

Whoooooosh!! From the left, an eighteen wheeler, carrying death and dismemberment, barrelled through the intersection doing about sixty miles an hour!

Everything changed right then. I sat there at that light in the night at the tail end of a short meaningless trip and shook my head soaking in all that that momentary hesitation meant.

I pulled off slowly, and made my left turn, loing to the Tahoe, and like the aftermath of throwing a giant stone into a pond, the water of my whole life flooded in on me and overwhelmed me.

I thought about Kathy, who waited confidently for me to get back home not ever thinking that I was a pureed mass being poured into a body bag a half mile — and an eternity — away. I thought of how torn to pieces she would be for who knows how long.

I thought about Max, who loves me so absolutely right now, who calls ME every day when he awakes, who yells for ME at night when he has a nightmare, who needs ME to teach him all this stuff I can’t wait to teach him.

I thought about Diana, who smiles so wide at me when the cobwebs clear from her eyes at three o’clock every AM when I feed her, making sure she gets that extra meal she slept through earlier. I though about how she stops crying when I pick her up. I thought about telling her about boys and God.

I thought about how many times I have fed them and changed them and comforted them and taught them and loved them and watched them love me back. And I thought about the fact that no matter how much they love me, one small push on the gas pedal a few SECONDS ago would mean that They would only see me through pictures.

Max would ask, “Where’s Daddy? When’s Daddy coming back?” for days, weeks, and maybe even months, but with each passing second he and his sister would forget me a little bit more until in a short while they would remember me no more. Not at all. All the lessons and laughs would go unfulfilled.

I thought about my parents. I am the oldest and the only son. Gone. With just the slightest release of the brake pedal. I know how much they have loved me.

I thought about my three sisters.

And my few close friends. My church family who would have to hear the news on Sunday morning. I thought about all my musician friends…

My life didn’t flash before me. An alternate future played before me like a dvd on 3x. I saw my body crushed amid broken glass, twisted steel and torn rubber on the street while everyone I loved went on obliviously until the phone rang. I thanked God so much and so many times in that half mile ride.

I am supposed to be dead right now. That is not an overstatement. I am supposed to be as dead as someone mauled by a bear, or crashed in a plane. Based on the way I was driving and jamming — I’ve done it many times before — I was supposed to press that pedal, and no one but God stopped me. I should be sloshing around in a bag in a drawer. But I am not.

I walked into the house, put the oranges down, sat in a chair in front of my family, and cried. Hard.

Tears of  joy and sorrow. Boiling water and ice cubes in the same glass.

Shortly after I began to process everything, I thought about the biggest point of all:

As graphic a picture as the Lord had stapled in my brain, as close a call as I had, as surely as He had saved my life, He did MUCH more than that on a hill, far away!

The picture of eternity in hell is infinitely more horrible than a broken body and crying loved ones. Yes, He surely saved me — and my whole network of family and friends — from an excruciating circumstance, but it all becomes translucent in the face of that from which He ultimately saved me.

And everything I do from here out should be in light of that fact. I have the picture. I have the time. What will I do with it?


January 19, 2009 - Posted by | Advice, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Death, Driving, Irony, Near Misses, Salvation, Second Chances


  1. Derrick-I am so glad that you were saved. My life will forever be changed because of you and Markathy and I would have missed you a bunch. The Lord is looking out for you and that was just a clear manifestation of it. So…how were the oranges? Love ya man! Courtney

    Comment by Courtney Murray | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  2. Wow. You made me utterly speechless.

    I’m very glad you’re okay.

    Comment by missy | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  3. I wonder how many times a day God saves us from ourselves and the circumstances around us. SO glad you are here. And thankful for the reminder of His goodness and mercy.

    Comment by ashleighcarroll | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  4. I am at a loss for words, other than to say that I am glad that the Lord held you back. We love you!

    Comment by kiralisa | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  5. Thanks all of you!
    COURTNEY!!! You come here? Thanks! We all miss you already! The oranges are great! Love you, too!

    Hey Missy! How’ve you been? I know life is crowded for you, and I’m praying for you.

    Ashleigh, and Lisa, you guys — and the whole church — bless us.

    Comment by maxdaddy | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  6. Derrick, Thanks for sharing. I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks for being obedient to Holy Spirit! He is alive and well.

    Comment by Wes Leyshon | January 20, 2009 | Reply

  7. Wow! So glad the Spirit held you back, man! It’s amazing (in the truest sense of the word) what God was able to reveal to you (and through you, to all of us) in that moment! Thanks for sharing your life with us!

    Comment by Dan | January 20, 2009 | Reply

  8. Don’t it make you sober? When you think about how quickly it can be…all over. God protects and keeps us.

    I would have been one of the ones, “screamin’ in the streets”, so suffice it to say, I’m glad you’re still here to make me think, cry, pray, laugh and give thanks.


    Comment by anappygirl | January 20, 2009 | Reply

  9. What’s up, Wes?! Thanks, man.

    Dan, I appreciate you! I’m glad to know you all!

    Tracey, that’s why you have to write more stuff! Don’t want any of your blog friends to think something has happened after months of silence! For real, tho, you are my barometer on this blog for whether I’m on the right track or not!

    Comment by maxdaddy | January 21, 2009 | Reply

  10. All I can say is this brought me to tears while sitting at my desk at work. I cannot imagine how I would have felt otherwise. You forgot to mention how much your nephews would have missed you and been crying. I know how much of a lead foot you have……………I am just astounded to think of how close you came. Oh my!!!!!!

    Thank God you are still amongst us to tell your story. I won’t be in such a hurry now.

    Being a parent has altered my thinking on a lot of things, I stopped going into the gas station when Richie was born….it just creeps me out being in the store, I’d rather pay at the pump and now Richie is old enough to pump the gas for me. :o)

    Comment by Cassandra | January 22, 2009 | Reply

  11. Wow – this shook me to the core. Thanks for this, brother.

    An ever present reminder that no man knows the day or the hour.

    I’m gonna go hug my wife and 2 kids right now!

    Comment by speaking truth | January 22, 2009 | Reply

  12. I am very glad you are okay. Thank you for sharing with us. It really helps to put things into perspective and to make us appreciate all our blessings.

    Tu hermano en Cristo,


    Comment by Rafa | January 23, 2009 | Reply

  13. Thank you all. Didn’t really expect that, but it was to be expected!

    Comment by maxdaddy | January 23, 2009 | Reply

  14. Hi Derrick,

    Man, I’m sure glad you are still here on this earth and one day I will hopefully get to hear ya blow!

    Live everyday for the Lord Brothers and Sisters!!



    Comment by Phil Naessens | January 26, 2009 | Reply

  15. Hi brother derrick, As a brother in Christ, I along with so many others would have missed your humor and godly insight. For selfish reasons, we are begging you to slow down. May God`s perfect will continue to be done in your life. Love you brother. Tarre Stanley, Seeker of truth

    I appreciate that. I have slowed down a lot in the last few years. This was just a momentary excursion.
    Thanks for continuing to read, too!

    Comment by Seeker of truth | January 27, 2009 | Reply

  16. You probably know why I haven’t commented…speechless. My mind jumped to crisis mode while reading. I had moved into the house and was ready to take care of all FOUR kids while Markathy got herself together.

    God is sooooo good! One moment can put A LOT of things in perspective!!!! I praise God that you were even LISTENING to the Holy Spirit. I like having you and your family in my life! Thanks for giving me one more day to express how much the Trotter’s love and appreciate the Williams’!

    Comment by heatherltrotter | January 30, 2009 | Reply

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