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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Think First, Save a Life

A few years ago I was driving a borrowed car down to the airport to pick up my son.
Going sixty-five mph down highway 85 in moderate traffic, suddenly my cell phone rang.
Without thinking, I went for it.
Of course the phone was halfway across the passenger seat, buried under my purse and my coat.
But I took my eyes off the road for just a second to reach over and grab the phone.
When I did that, the car veered slightly toward the right, almost into the next lane.
Well, what would you do?
Uh huh, just what I did. I jerked the steering wheel back to the left. I over-corrected. The car lurched toward the left shoulder.
I pulled it back to the right.
The car fish-tailed dramatically.
Drivers behind me slammed on their brakes to avoid me.
Lord, help me!
The car is going to flip!
I'm going to die!
My friends will lose their car.
I hope the cars around me don't get tangled up with my car.
What will my husband do without me?
And my kids?

Amazing, huh? how many thoughts run through your head in an emergency.

And then, surprisingly, I gained control of the car.
I found the cell phone still gripped in my left hand. And flipped it on.
It was my son, merely informing me that his plane had landed.

So this was what I'd just risked my life to find out?
I snapped the phone shut and dropped it into my open purse.
"Stupid Dena!" I berated myself, still recovering from the giant adrenaline kick of my near-death experience,  "you almost caused a bad car accident because you just had to answer the phone."

I should tell you that this "stupid Dena" learned a valuable lesson that day. Your life is more important ( and the lives of other motorists) than answering a ringing phone.

I'm not one of those people who can't go more than two seconds without talking or texting.
I answered the phone that afternoon because I've been conditioned to do so.
An unthinking, automatic response to an urgent request. As automatic as responding to a baby's cry.

But sometimes, an automatic response can be dangerous. Just as a I learned on hwy 85.

I read an article in a recent Reader's Digest about how dangerous automatic responses can be. We jump, without thinking, into uncertain water to save a drowning person. We rush into a burning building before considering how we'll survive the flames, smoke and toxins. We drive into a flooded street. (Yep, I've done that one, too.)

The same wisdom of stopping and thinking first holds true in our spiritual lives.
The Bible warns us: "My dear brothers, take notes of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

When I'm tempted to respond automatically to someone's sharp words, or annoyances at work, or commute-time delays, I need to remember to think first ("be slow to anger, slow to speak").

It could save a life.

"Think first." Anonymous

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