Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Case of Divine Intervention

Don't worry, this is not about yesterday's election. God is still in control of things, but my party didn't win, so I'm glum.

No, this is about a true story of divine intervention -- the kind of miraculous event that the unbelieving world chalks up to random chance or "luck," but Christians know is instead an instance of God moving in the lives of His people. The events described happened this past Sunday to a guy I work with who lives in a suburb of Waco.

This man has two kids in the high school band that was leaving Sunday afternoon for state marching contest the next day in Austin. There are approximately 150 kids in the band, which required chartering three buses to transport them down (about 50 kids per bus).

The buses were about ready to go when a local pastor happened to be driving by and noticed something funny about one of the buses. The hydraulic lift system that lowers the entrance steps to let people get in, and then raises the steps back up for travel, hadn't apparently raised back up all the way. The driver tried to get it to raise back into position, but it wouldn't budge.

A Department of Public Safety inspector had to be called out, and after an inspection and driving test he ruled that the problem didn't affect the safety of the bus and that they could get underway. This was good news, since the charter company didn't have another bus available. However, waiting for the clearance had put the band more than an hour behind schedule.

The kids and sponsors boarded the buses, then the first bus in the convoy pulled out of the school parking lot. However, my friend noticed as he was walking to get into his car that the second bus -- the one with his two kids aboard -- wasn't moving. A few seconds later, he heard his wife call from near the bus that there was something wrong with the driver.

My friend got to the bus and looked at the driver, a very large man. He was sitting in the driver's seat, looking out into space, and he was absolutely covered in sweat. The parents told him, "Look, come on out, you need help," but he appeared to shake off whatever had caused him to hesitate and said, "That's alright. I'm fine. Let's go."

The driver closed the door and started to move the bus ahead. A parent was standing next to him at the front of the bus, trying to get a DVD playing in the bus's onboard video player.

Suddenly, this woman at the front of the bus watched in horror as the driver slumped forward in his seat, passed out cold. She grabbed the extremely large steering wheel and somehow managed to keep the bus from going off into the ditch. At the same time, she was hitting the driver's shoulder and yelling "Wake up! Put on the brake! Wake up!"

Eventually, the driver was roused from his sleep enough to apply the brakes, coming within inches of hitting a power pole and a parked car. As soon as the bus came to a stop, he again passed out.

It turns out that the driver was a diabetic who hadn't taken his insulin, and he had gone into diabetic shock.

The bus company was able to supply a substitute driver who arrived quickly, and finally, after the long delay of about 90 minutes, all three buses were finally on the road to Austin.

My friend thought about this later and realized how fortunate that unwelcome mechanical trouble had proved to be. If the first bus hadn't had a problem with its hydraulics -- or if the pastor hadn't passed by and just happened to notice the problem -- or if he hadn't decided to flag the driver and stop the bus -- then all three buses would have left on time. And 90 minutes later, when the driver of Bus #2 (the one carrying my friend's kids) had his episode of diabetic shock, he would have passed out at the wheel not in a school parking lot, but doing 65 miles an hour on Interstate 35 somewhere near Georgetown. And it's highly likely that the bus would have been involved in an accident that would have resulted in many, many deaths.

There are some people who would chalk all this up to fortunate chance. But I know better.