When the Wheels Come Off


“Teach us to number our days, oh Lord, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” ~Psalm 90:12

I was so done. When May 3rd came around, I wasn’t just counting the days left until my summer adventure, I was counting the seconds. Since February, I’d been working on finding an international internship. Now that it was 21 days away, I was so ready to go. I didn’t really want to finish finals. I didn’t really want to say good-bye to anyone at school. I had 21 days to go and I just wanted my trip to be here so I could disappear and take a break from it all.

But on May 3rd, as I was driving home on 470, God got my attention in a big way. My car had been making a funny rattling noise ever since I got it back from the shop. As I passed Peña Blvd, I started to notice that it was really pulling to the left. If I took my hands of the steering wheel, it would immediately, and rapidly start changing lanes.

About ten minutes later, as I went down the hill between the Smoky Hill and Gartrel exits, I hit a bump in the pavement. All of a sudden, my car lurched forward and started making an awful grinding sound. It fishtailed back and forth and my steering didn’t seem to make much difference. My instinct was to slam on the brakes, but doing so did nothing to slow the car.

By the time I got it off the high way and up the exit ramp of Gartrel, it wouldn’t move. I sat in traffic as angry Saturday drivers honked and yelled at me. My door wouldn’t open. My car wouldn’t move. I didn’t know what had just happened. One of those E-470 emergency guys pulled up behind me. When he came to my window, I said, “I’m really sorry, I don’t know what just happened.”

“I do,” he said. “You’re missing a wheel.” Looking out my window, I saw he was right.

Looking at the damage, talking to the tow truck guy, and hugging my parents, I suddenly felt so blessed. Despite how mangled the side of my car looked, I was fine. Luckily, no one else was hurt either.

So often we are racing through our routines, so focused on getting to the next moment that we forget to enjoy the here and now. We forget that the time we have is a blessing. We forget that the wheels could come off at any second and so much could change in an instant.

The 21 days until I left for my trip suddenly became sacred. I spent them watching movies with my parents, getting coffee with old friends, and doing things I love to do. Losing that wheel slammed my busy brain to a stop and reminded me about all the good I have in my life. It made me realize that I am going to miss my family, and friends, and doing things I love to do.

I understand what the psalmist said in the 90th psalm when he talks about “numbering our days.” He is encouraging us to live in the moment. It is sad that in our world it often takes something unexpected or tragic to make us appreciate what we have. It is equally sad that so many people, in their final hours, wish they had more time. Perhaps if we focused on the time we have, the moments we are living in, and the blessings that are right in front of us, we wouldn’t be so surprised or scornful when life changes unexpectedly.

May you “number your days” and find fullness and meaning in each and every one.

Zach Herzog

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