All of us have anniversaries that are meaningful. Some are obvious and expected, like birthdays and weddings. But occasionally, we have unexpected events we never forget. For me, that anniversary date is July 2, 2000 (twenty years ago on the first Sunday). Was it a sweet personal moment or professional achievement?
Nah… I lost my car in a flash flood.
I had only lived in Fort Worth for three years and was still learning how to navigate our city streets. For example, I had no idea that a section of Rosedale — just west of 8th Avenue – was designed as a water collection area during heavy rains. (That would have been good for me to know in advance of that soggy Sunday.)
I left home before sunrise in a light rain. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, because I wanted to exercise downtown to begin my day. By the time I was heading east on I-30, the rain had turned into a heavy downpour. Because visibility was so limited, I made the spontaneous decision to exit on Rosedale, heading toward 8th Avenue.
I had always been baffled by people who would “drive into standing water” during a flash flood. Well — if it’s dark, with heavy rain – any of us could do that. And I did! My little Honda Civic stalled and slowly filled with water. I easily got out of my vehicle, and then out of the rain — by stepping up on the concrete median base of an old set of railroad tracks above me. It’s a shame that Rosedale has been redesigned and the tracks are gone…because otherwise, I could still give tours of “Marshall Cove.”
While I could drag this story out forever, here is the concise version of the rest of my morning: I had the bizarre experience of watching my car get swept off the road and down a hill into a grove of trees. Because of waiting too long in the area, I had to swim across Rosedale to climb up on the soggy bank (there is simply one word to say about that water…YUCK!).
While walking my way back to FUMCFW, surrounded by sirens and emergency vehicles, I remembered I had left my suit and other dress clothing in the Justin Building because I had officiated a wedding the night before. After showering, I started my day by teaching the Inquirers Class. Needless-to-say, I changed my topic and mostly soaked up the care and support of those dear friends. By the 11:00 am worship service, the news of my escapades had traveled quickly. I was the focus of lots of well-deserved and empathetic joking and kidding around! And at noon, Bill Longsworth took me to see my car — upside down in a field — looking like it had gone over a cliff in a Roadrunner cartoon.
Twenty years ago I learned that life can change in an instant, and that the power of raging water should never be underestimated. But more importantly, I learned that the presence of God’s love within a caring and supportive community can enable us to overcome adversity and find meaning in every moment of our lives.
What are your life events that mark time — both expected and unexpected? Do any of them remind you of a time you were caught off guard — out of your element — like a fish outta water? And do they also reinforce the wonder of being embraced by loving human arms and led by Christ in our midst? I pray that for you, for me, and for everyone.
Happy Anniversaries, Dear Friends!
Dr. Mike Marshall
Associate Pastor of Leadership Development