Hi. I’m Ken Jones and this is A Classic State of Mind, with A Word About … Skid Marks.

You’ve noticed them, haven’t you? Those black, ominous-looking marks on highway pavements; a visual record of a spot where perhaps an accident occurred, or someone lost control of their vehicle. Sometimes, those skid marks run straight down a traffic lane. Those skid marks represent a visual record of some event that caused black rubber tires that were meant to roll along instead to skid on pavement. We’ve all seen examples of those marks, some of them even ending abruptly at guard rails or barricades that were installed to provide cushion or protection.

I pass skid marks every morning. But there’s one particular spot on my drive every morning — the west bound Shasta View Exit, exit number 4 on the freeway between my office and my home — that I take special note of, as I drive by. A group of serpentine skid marks I will probably always pay attention to. The reason I notice those skid marks is because I helped make them. Well, actually, another driver behind me helped make them. I will tell you the story.

A couple of weeks ago, as I sat in stopped traffic on the highway between my home and my office, a young driver behind me failed to see me in my truck, stopped because of road work in a line of traffic. Her tires squealed, as she locked her brakes and slammed into the back of the truck I was driving. Spinning in the middle of a highway not meant for pirouettes, after her car hit my truck, she slid and spun and squealed to a stop, leaving an exquisitely etched set of nearly perfect and parallel circles — tire marks in the pavement of the West Bound lanes of highway 44, at the Shasta View Exit.

Thankfully, even though she was travelling at an estimated 50 miles an hour when her car plowed into me, she wasn’t hurt. I wasn’t injured too seriously, either. At least not in a way that doctors could detect. An ambulance ride to the hospital, x-rays of my knee and an MRI of my neck and back were negative. But in the ensuing days since the event, I’ve come to know a new and gnawing discomfort in my neck and lower back. The skid marks on the highway at exit number 4 aren’t the only testament to that accident that happened a couple of weeks ago. The marks on my body aren’t obvious, perhaps. But as I navigate through life every day, I’m reminded as I stand to walk, or as I turn my body to take a seat, that I once experienced a violent event that has now marked my life, like some skid mark on a highway.

Every morning, now, as I drive to my office, when I pass Exit 4, I recall again the happenings of a few weeks ago. When I pass those skid marks, I remind myself that things could have been so different. I could have been killed at exit 4. We’ve all seen flowers placed along skid marks on highways as memorials that “here was a spot on life’s road where someone died.” For a certainty, the accident a few weeks ago could have resulted in my death, or my serious injury, perhaps my being paralyzed or my body broken in some other terrible way. So many ‘what if’ sorts of things flood my mind, when I pass Exit 4: What if my wife had been riding with me? She sits on the side of the truck that was totally devastated. What if my grandchildren had been with me? What if the young woman who hit me had been killed or maimed? Or some innocent driver who simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? So many “what if” questions that flood my head.

Ps. 33:13 in the Book says, “From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth ….”

I’ve chosen to make the skid marks at Exit 4, and the unseen and invisible marks in my painful neck and back a reminder of not only what was — what has happened to me in my journey down life’s road — but what could have been.  I am grateful for God’s watchful eye on my comings and goings every day. How about you?

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