By JANIE MALONEY
Seeing God’s perfect timing on the Mobile Bay bridge
Exactly one week after giving birth to our third child, I survived a massive heart attack. This was shocking; I was a healthy 36-year-old with no family history of heart issues. I had open-heart surgery on April Fools’ Day, which has always made me smile. God is truly humorous. But I wondered, “God, why did You spare me? What do You want me to do?” Then about three years later, I realized God would work through me, and that everything is in His timing.
My sister Sandy and I had our daughters at the beach. We left early on the last day and had to stop a time or two along the way, because my niece was having ear trouble. Then, on the Mobile Bay bridge, we were suddenly stopped. We could see there was no vehicle in front of the one in front of us.
Since Sandy was in the driver’s seat, I jumped out of the car like I was on autopilot. I saw a Jeep had crashed into the bridge, and I saw a man face-down on the pavement. Blood was everywhere. A woman stumbled from the vehicle and, instinctively, I ran to her. I said out loud, “Lord, I need a chair for her.” Instantly, I saw two fold-up chairs that must have been thrown from the Jeep. I seated her as she explained that she’d been coming from the dentist’s office, and that her husband had not been wearing his seatbelt. He did not survive the crash.
As I listened, I felt a peaceful feeling, and kept my ears open and mouth closed. I touched her arm lightly — thoughts of my open-heart surgery, and of my nurse softly touching my arm, came to mind. It had comforted me to know that someone was physically with me, so I made a point to do the same.
The woman wanted her shoes, which had fallen off in the crash, so I went up to the smoking Jeep. I thought, “OK, this car could so blow up any second … yet I know I’m supposed to be here right now.” I only spotted one of her shoes and could not get into the vehicle. I’m not sure how she’d gotten out of it. As she continued getting her thoughts together, I felt as if we were the only two people on this planet.
Eventually, a man joined us. He assumed I was a nurse like him, but I quickly explained I was an interior designer — clueless in this situation! As he checked on her, I went over to her husband and started to pray over him. Another woman had now joined us, and she called the survivor’s sister to meet her at the ER, as the ambulance was arriving. I wanted to go in the ambulance, but they explained it would be too complicated for my family to get to me.
I went back to our car and leaned beside my sister’s window. She said, “All I could think of as I watched you was the Good Samaritan. You were the only one that got out to help.” Fifteen to 20 minutes had passed, but it felt like everything had gone in slow motion. I found myself emotional because it hit me: “God, You just worked through me!”
I said, “Sandy, the last story I read before I went to bed last night was about the Good Samaritan” (from the “Mark of The Lion” series by Francine Rivers). Everything had happened to get us where we needed to be so I could serve in that exact moment.
I cried off and on, not from sadness but from amazement over what I had experienced. I thanked God, and I asked Him to keep what I saw on that bridge from haunting me. It never has.
God will use us to further His kingdom, to be His hands and feet, if we will stay in His Word, communicate with Him, and be willing and available to serve.
For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. (Titus 3:14)
Janie is married to Steve Maloney, and they live in Ridgeland with their three children. They attend Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson.