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FIRST-PERSON: A wreck, a DUI & a suicide

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–It started out as an average Friday night in central Louisiana. After going to the funeral home to support a co-worker whose grandmother died at the robust age of 104, we grabbed a bite to eat. We weren’t home for long when we received a call every parent dreads. “Mom, we’ve had a wreck.”

Fortunately, no one was injured even though the pickup truck flipped almost upside down as it skidded into the ditch. Except for minor cuts and bruises, all four boys were shaken but not seriously injured.

We were the first parents to arrive at the scene and were thankful to see a state trooper and sheriff’s deputy assisting the boys. In addition, we were thankful for the neighbor who came out to check on them before the officers arrived.

As the crowd grew, a car drove by, slowed down and then backed up. The deputy went to check on the driver. She smelled the strong stench of alcohol and asked the driver to step out of his car. As the deputy asked him to put his hands behind his back, he suddenly bolted, running down the road.

I realized the deputy was by herself and, having been a chaplain for a police department, I ran after her. As she and the man went into the woods, I caught up and asked if she wanted help, to which she replied, “Yes.”

We chased the suspect as far as we could, but the briars and vines were too thick. Returning to the road, a K-9 unit and other deputies arrived to continue the search.

When the trooper released us from the scene of the wreck, we went home. After making sure his older brother was OK, my middle son told me about a teenager who committed suicide earlier in the evening. Text messages letting friends and acquaintances know of the situation began to be sent with more information and greater frequency.

Life is amazingly fragile.

In a moment, four families were spared from tragedy. In another instant, a man went from a DUI offense to resisting an officer and multiple other charges because alcohol influenced his choices. In another fleeting moment, a teenager decided that his problems were too big for him to handle and chose to end his life, thrusting his family into chaos.

I’ve learned that nothing is a surprise to God. In His foreknowledge, nothing catches Him off-guard. We, on the other hand, are surprised often, and we need to keep our guard up.

How do we prepare to handle the circumstances that inevitably come our way? The first way is to be prayed up. The time we spend with our Father in prayer reminds us He is always with us.

The second way to handle life’s circumstances is to be read up. The discipline it takes to consistently spend time reading the Bible prepares our hearts with the promises of God when the world comes crashing down.

Finally, be filled up. The Bible tells us not to be drunk with wine, but to be filled with the Spirit of God. The Comforter, as the Bible sometimes describes the Holy Spirit, is able to comfort us in any trouble we find ourselves. He does this because He is God. It is what He does.

Since the rain falls on the just and the unjust, it behooves the believer to be prepared with the tools our loving God has provided for us. You never know when an average evening may turn into an extraordinary opportunity to trust in the peace of God.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate with the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism and church growth team. If you have questions about eternal life, call 888-JESUS-20 (888.537.8720).

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  • Keith Manuel