I approached the red light in my 1983 five-speed Toyota wagon, a car I bought a few years earlier when I was still in college.
I pulled up to a three-way intersection, one I had traveled through many times.
When the car came to a stop, I shifted into neutral even though my father told me never do so; he said it was a bad habit, that being in gear gave me more control, that I should be always be ready to move the car–but I did not listen.
I developed a habit of putting the car in neutral at a stoplight and playing with the gear shift until it was time to move.
On this particular night, when the light turned green I pressed the clutch and tried to put the car in first gear, but the gear shift did not move.
I released the clutch, pressed it down and tried again–but the gear shift seemed stuck. Starting to panic, I then pumped the clutch and tried again to no avail. My mind quickly slipped right into catastrophe. I began imagining the clutch was broken, the engine was shot, and the transmission gone.
Sitting in my car at 11 pm, unable to move, I was on the verge of a meltdown; I decided to try one more time, so I pressed the clutch again, and the car went right into first gear–smoothly and easily. Confused but relieved, I looked up before moving into the intersection, just in time to see a car barreling right through the light at a high rate of speed. As the car sped by me, I realized that had I been able to get into first gear the first go around, there would have been a terrible accident.
I did not see the absolute miracle in the moment.
Everything happened so fast, and I was only 22-years-old at the time. Now, three decades later, I can see the hand of God in that experience–in the perfection of timing and the molding of circumstances. Somehow a perfectly functioning gear shift “got stuck” at the very same moment that a car on a perpendicular track–a car I could not even see–was racing toward the intersection.
This event exemplifies a glorious truth I could not fully recognize at the time. I, like so many others, carry a whole lifetime of training in the material world, training to believe only what is right in front of my nose. I often interpret the goings on around me through a clouded lens, the lens of “what is” as Abraham Hicks calls it. Yet, God is at work around us, within us, and through us–whether we know it or not. There is no space in which God does not reside–and He is not bound to the physical laws of the world.
Equally true is that at the age of 22 I did not see myself as worthy of miracles. I believed a miracle was something special, something for only the most faithful and obedient to God. I believed miracles were reserved for those who did no wrong, so I just could not imagine that incident as an actual miracle.
Now I know differently: I know I am worthy of miracles, that everyone is worthy of miracles, and that we should actually expect miracles. Miracles are possible; may we receive them freely and joyfully. And so it is.
Have you experienced a similar miracle? Share in the comments below.
Jill A. Lahnstein is a mother, a teacher, a writer, and a jewelry artist. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her teenage daughter Angel and their little canine sidekick Sunny. She has spent over 20 years teaching English to college students. Most of her experience has been with those students who are first-generation, economically disadvantaged, or disabled. She fervently believes that every moment–inside the classroom and outside the classroom–can be a healing moment.