Last weekend a friend and I went to Atlanta for a day trip. Yes, you read that right….a day trip. A day trip to Atlanta involves leaving home very early in the morning before the sun rises and getting back home very late way after the sun has set. That kind of trip requires a lot of driving in the dark and can be very tiring, but with good company it can be quite fun.

I drove my mother-in-law’s van on our trip so we would have plenty of room for any treasures we bought while we were in Atlanta. You know a good shopper always wants to be prepared with adequate car space when shopping so far away from home. As we rode along on the four-lane interstate above Macon, the car traveling in the lane right in front of us apparently missed it’s exit and instead of continuing along the road at a constant pace to keep up with traffic, the car decided to slow down and almost stop right in the lane of busy traffic. Thankfully, I noticed the car’s drastic change in speed, so I began to slow down. As this car in front of us got slower and slower and I’m telling you almost came to a stop right in the lane on the busy interstate, I was just barely able to ease over into the next lane without rear ending the car. The huge diesel truck coming right behind me wasn’t so lucky. The diesel driver did a great job in trying to avoid a collision, but he rear ended the almost stopped car. As I saw what happened in my rear view mirror, I thought, “Thank you, Lord. You protected us from an accident right there that could have been serious.”  We could have been easily been sandwiched between the stopped car and the big diesel truck if we had not had room to ease over quickly.

As our trip continued, we reached our main shopping destination and had a good time. We loaded the van with what some might call treasures and others might call  trash. We decided that we had time for a few more stops before we left for home, so we detoured to a nearby shopping center that any woman would love. I mean this center had a little something for every shopper! As we turned into the entrance of the shopping center, I don’t know if it was the excitement of all the stores or the unfamiliar territory, but I ran right through a four-way stop. Yes, I know that I should control myself at all times, but I did not realize that the cars on the main road entrance, as well as the two side roads, all had a stop sign. I realized that I should have stopped after I drove straight through the intersection untouched and completely unharmed. Once again I thought, “Lord, thank you. You allowed me to make that stupid mistake and not get sideswiped by another vehicle that actually had the right-of-way. Thank you for protecting us yet again.”

After picking  up something to eat and a big cup of coffee, we finally headed for Blackshear. It was already dark outside when we left Atlanta. Our trip home seemed relaxed and uneventful. Uneventful that is until we got between Dublin and McRae. We were just driving along a dark road when all of a sudden I saw this big animal just sitting right in the middle of the road in our lane. I first saw the animal when we were right at  it, so I did not even have time to react. I just held tight to the steering wheel and drove straight over it. Now, this was no ordinary sized animal, in my opinion, this animal appeared to resemble a miniature version of the infamous animal known as “Bigfoot.” And remember, I was driving a van which sits rather low to the ground. Big animal and low riding vehicle…..not the best combination on a dark road.

Two very loud thuds later, the damage was done. My friend screamed as we hit and ran over the unknown creature. The initial shock was scary but not nearly as scary as what was to come next. My friend screamed, “We are dragging it under the van!” I guess I was silent at this time because I was certainly more worried about the van than the animal. Anyway, I pulled over and put the van in reverse in an attempt to dislodge any parts of the creature that we were dragging. I knew that I needed to get out and check out the van but it was impossible to see because it was so dark outside. (Plus I was a little afraid of what I might see!)

After my dislodging attempt, I just pulled back on the road and kept driving. The farther we drove the worse the van began to sound. It sounded especially bad when I applied the brakes. Now this is the part of the trip where all the fun left. I could just imagine the van breaking down on the side of this deserted road and me not being able to tell Dave how to find me. I just drove and prayed silently. “Lord, please help me get back home. Please don’t let this van break down.” I picked up my cell phone to call my husband. “Dave,” I said, “we saw this animal just sitting right in front of us in the middle of the road, and I think I hit it.” My friend in the background yelled, “You think you hit it…..I know you hit it!!!”  I could not help but laugh at her reaction. I put the idea in Dave’s mind that he might want to start heading towards Baxley in case we broke down. He said just keep driving and call me as soon as you get to McRae.

I followed his advice, and kept speeding ahead. Soon we came to the tiny town of Alamo, Georgia. To the right we saw a well-lit parking lot that just happened to be the local police department. I pulled in right at the front door and left the van running.  My friend and I hopped out, and I said a little prayer as I braced myself for what I might see. When I looked at the front of the van, I was thrilled that there was no animal head looking back at me. Two policemen walked out about this time and asked if everything was alright. I explained that we had run over a mini Bigfoot right outside of Dublin, and I thought half the bottom of the van was missing. One policeman grabbed a flashlight and started looking under the grill for any damage. Apparently half the van was not gone but part of the front plastic grill of the van had been torn away and the rest was hanging loosely. We had been riding with the plastic dragging and that’s what was making such a terrible racket. He was able to wedge the loose plastic to keep it from hanging, and we jumped back in the van determined to make it back home safely after all. I said a little prayer once again, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for the little damage. Thank you for a well-lit police department parking lot and  for friendly policemen. Thank you that we are on our way again.”

Once we were more relaxed, my friend and I started talking about the mysterious animal that we ran over. We discussed what kind of animal we thought it was. Possibly a raccoon, a possum, or a baby bear? We settled on a possum. Yes, a possum we said; that had to be what we hit. Well, that’s what we thought until I made the next statement…..(now remember before you read the rest that I am a math teacher not a science teacher.) I said, “All I remember about the animal is seeing a big, bushy tail.” My friend then said, “Kim, possums don’t have big, bushy tails!” …Oh well, there goes the possum theory. Anyway, we laughed about all the animal possibilities and finally decided that we ran over the only bushy tailed possum in south Georgia! I have threatened to get a hair sample and send it off to the American Zoological Society just to prove it.

We finally made it home safely after midnight, and I was so happy to get in my bed that night. Once again I said a prayer to thank God for letting us make it home safe and sound despite the broken plastic on the van. As I thought about all the events of the day….the near miss on the interstate, running through a four-way stop sign, and running over a huge unknown monster from the woods, I could not help but think about how many times God prevents harm from coming to us. How many times do we barely escape something horrible?  God just protects us and often clears our way without making us aware of all the danger. More times than we will ever know God watches over us and our loved ones. He always has our best interest at heart.

When bad things happen I think about something that Job said when he encountered a series of bad events in his life. Job had a blessed life but a rapid spiral of bad things happened to him. He lost his animals, his servants, all of his children, and his own health. When Job’s wife told him to just curse God and die, he basically told her that she was talking foolish and then he made this remarkable statement. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? “Job 2:10.

Think about it. How blessed are we every single day of our lives. We have our families, our jobs, our hobbies, our friends, our treasures, and all the other million things we love. We often have so many blessings around us that we do not even realize them as blessings but more often things we take for granted. We gladly accept so many good things from God and pray for more, but when tragedy strikes we think God has forgotten about us. Sometimes we act more like Job’s wife than Job. We curse God and ask, “How dare you let this bad thing happen to me?” Why do we accept the good so easily but react angrily when we face trouble?  In my shallow opinion Job had a right to feel angry about his life. Nobody would blame him for cursing God. But, when I read Job’s reaction I am reminded that how we react when trouble comes our way is vital to whether or not God can use it for good. There are lots of stories of people who curse God every single day. Job trusted God with the good and the bad. He trusted that God had his best interest at heart all of the time. Even when things spiraled out of control…..Job trusted God. I want to be more like Job. I want to look at my life and say, “God, you have been so good to me. How could I be mad at you when something bad happens? The good blessings far outweigh the trouble. I accept your goodness day after day. How can I complain about the trouble?”

So, the moral of this long story is multi-purpose. First, when I get to heaven, I want to shake Job’s hand…or better yet, hug his neck. Secondly, how could I fuss about hitting the bushy tailed possum when God had kept me from harm several times just that one day? I knowingly accepted his protection twice before the possum incident, so I gladly accept a little trouble because I know he helped me avoid a lot worse. Overall my trip was a lot of fun despite the tense ride home, so the good of the day totally outweighed the bad. I happily accepted the fun we had that day, so why not take the possum and make the best out of it…..a funny story.

The next day my friend sent me a text and wanted to know if I was fixing possum stew for lunch. I guess when God sends a bushy tailed possum your way, the best thing you can do is trust he has your best interest at heart and make the best of it…. make a pot of possum stew.