My Brother Should Be Dead

By all the rational and reasonable ways of viewing the world, by all the rules of physics, by all the rules of chance, by all the “just like the Graves’ luck” that my sister has uttered, my brother David should be dead and I should be in deep grief. Instead, I am in awe and disbelief that God lifted my brother from sure death. I am humbled that God has personally entered our lives and acted directly and concretely.

I tend to be a very post-modern individual. I tend to subscribe to a theology of process, of a God who cares deeply for us but who doesn’t get involved in the day-to-day, of a God who walks with us when the rational and the physics of this beautiful blue marble hand us a senseless act, of a God who created a world of rules and rational, logical physics, set it in motion, and allowed it to run unencumbered by His meddling hand.

But my brother should be dead. I simply cannot deny that our abundant, our impersonal God has made it personal. Our God has concretely reached into the lives of the Graves family (and beyond) and saved my brother from sure death.

Nearly ten days ago, my brother was driving his Miata on a two-lane country road in Missouri, he was driving too fast and he’d had too much to drink. He was driving without his seatbelt and with tires that needed replacing. He lost control of the car. He remembers very little but the police and witnesses say he was thrown from the convertible Miata and skidded across the blacktop on his back. He bruised some ribs, he had a hole in an elbow through which his wife saw his bone as it was cleaned by the doctors, he had bruises and scrapes across his body. But he had no serious, life threatening injuries.

How else can you explain it? God still has plans for David Paul Graves of the St. Louis suburb of Florissant, Missouri.

Not satisfied to just snatch God’s child David from sure death and cradle him in his loving arms, our loving and powerful God has chosen to involve me in ways that I am struggling to grasp. After I received the telephone call from my father and sister about the car wreck, I decided that it was irrational for me to go to see David because “he’s fine.” The next day Isaac, my 20-year-old son who was driving from California to New York called me, offered to pay for a one-way ticket for me to fly to St. Louis, and then ride home with him in his car. He did this before he knew of David’s accident. God clearly wanted me to see my brother.

In St. Louis, as David slowly moved about, cringing at some pain, he told me, “I’ve done some stupid things in my life, but this tops them all.” David shared with me his feelings of gratitude. When I start to feel upset about something, I realize I could be dead, he told me. My brother, whom I love but rarely have talked to in the last few years, witnessed to me that he has received a wake up call.

David and I walked to his garage to look at the car. The suspension was clearly smashed, the frame undoubtedly twisted, and the car certainly a total loss. As I look at that tiny, and now twisted, Miata convertible I imagined the sunshine, the warm weather, the top down, the music blaring, and my brother traveling at 90 miles an hour. It was a great movie scene until I imagine the unbuckled seatbelt, the worn tires, and the car skidding out of control and the body of my favorite niece Christina’s middle-aged father flying through the air and landing on the blacktop.

But our loving and personally-caring God reached into the lives of the Graves family (and beyond) and snatched His beloved David Paul Graves of Florissant, Missouri from sure death. Now it is up to each of us to listen for God’s voice and plans for us in this deeply personal, loving act of a father.

How else can you explain it? My brother should be dead.

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