She sat with blood and shattered glass dripping from her body and hair. Staring blankly at the man who had come to her wrecked car, Natalie Carley asked, “Is there a deer on my lap?”
Natalie Carley was heading to her mother’s home from a doctor’s appointment in Tampa. Using the unpopulated Florida 528 Beachline highway, her car hit a deer crossing the road. Ms. Carley had watched the car in front of her swerve from a crossing deer when suddenly her front windshield shattered. She could no longer see the road. She slowed down to stop, pulling off the road.
The next thing Ms. Carley remembers, pain is shooting through her head. Her feet are wet because she had pulled into a water-filled ditch. Additionally, there is a deer laying on her lap. As she pulled her blood dripping hands away from the steering wheel, a man approached her car. Moments later, he retrieved her from the car and the dead deer.
As Ms. Carley and the rescuer waited for the EMT’s, she asked her new friend to make phone calls to her family. In her mind, she began to recalculate her next weeks’ activities. Ms. Carley is a Christian missionary serving in Barcelona, Spain. She teaches indigenous pastors at a seminary there. Her travel plans were to leave the US for a permanent position at the seminary on September 28. Her car was to be a gift to another missionary who was furloughing in the US and who needed transportation. This wreck was delaying or destroying most of her carefully laid plans.
Later Ms. Carley relayed to me that when a good friend called her, he said, “I know that you are asking the Lord, ‘Why is this happening?'”
Ms. Carley gently repositioned her bruised and bandaged body on her mother’s sofa. She pulled her leg up under her and cocked her head. “Actually, I wasn’t asking why this happened. I was asking the Lord to teach me what I needed to learn through this situation.”
Now my breathe was taken. I know the yearning she has to return to her teaching. Together in prayer, we’ve shared the pathos of her having to leave Spain where there is a great need for the love of the Savior. My first question would have been “Why?”
My mind raced. What if I was occupied with learning the lessons God had to teach? What if I had a greater need to learn God’s truths through the mishaps of life rather than investigating the why’s of the situation? My first question is nearly always “Why me, Lord?”
How much more rewarding would my life become if I asked, “What should I learn through this experience?” Again and again, the Scriptures urge us to capture each situation that we are thrown into seeking God’s will and guidance. Almost instinctively, we know that God has allowed each incident to teach and help us. Yet, my first question remains, “Why?”
I am praying that the next time my plans are shattered by a bloody deer that lands on my lap my first question won’t be my pathetic, “Why?” But that my mind will race back to ask, “What should I learn from this experience?”
Have you had a dead deer experience lately? What was the lesson God wanted you to learn? Were you able to learn this lesson?