Human Pinball

Human Pinball by Shannon Tate

If we were living in the days of old, you would most assuredly find an monument constructed by yours truly in the grass division off of Highway 79 just north of Hermosa, SD. Now, as specifically random as that may be, I promise there is significance to the location.

My husband and I were driving north from visiting his family on Christmas Eve back to my family’s house in Rapid City when the weather went from mild snowfall to blinding blizzard in a span of minutes. This sort of weather change isn’t uncommon for the Hwy 79 corridor but nevertheless it was unnerving. Despite the worsening road conditions, we maintained our speed and concentrated on the road ahead.

We went up and over the big hill like usual when part way down we needed to move into the passing lane to pass a slower moving vehicle. To this day I couldn’t tell you what exactly caused the chain of events to occur. Whether if it was when we changed lanes after passing the car that we hit a patch of black ice or if our speed caused us to lose traction over a section of road, I have no idea but this is what I do remember.

I braced for impact all the while saying calmly, “We’re OK. We’re OK. We’re OK.” I felt peace as the truck glided sideways in front of the vehicle we just passed. I remember focusing on the white snowflakes blurring quickly across the headlights and the green glow of the radio display text. I remember my husband’s hands deftly maneuvering on the steering wheel to maintain control of the vehicle.

We’re OK.

Thunk! The back-right side of the truck hit an unknown object (mailbox? mile marker?). The impact caused us to swing back the other direction, toward the median.

We’re OK. We’re OK.

The truck slid off the road tail first and into the median effortlessly.

Whoosh! The median, being well stocked with fresh snow and grass, made a spectacular spray of snow and dirt which slowed us abruptly and corrected our direction up and out of the median, and back on the highway. By then he regained control of the truck and pulled off to the side.


He got out of the truck to assess the damage. No other vehicles were impacted or affected. No one was hurt. The vehicle we passed was nowhere to be seen. The only thing that needed to be replaced was the back right tail light where something knocked us the other way into the median.

My husband got back in the truck, unsettled. After a few moments to collect himself, he said, “That shouldn’t have happened. We should be upside down in that median.” I wasn’t sure what he meant, afterall, we were right side up and sustained minimal damage.

He explained that as a volunteer firefighter, he’s rolled up on accident sites where the vehicle was turned over because the driver overcorrected into the soft-earthed median, which would almost always cause the vehicle to roll. All I could do or say in that moment was, “See, I told you we’d be OK.”

But how did I know that we would be OK? In that moment when we lost traction and started sliding, a peace came over me. Honest to goodness it was probably an angel that bumped us over to the median and another angel to catch us and push us back on the road. A game of pinball, if you will, where angels were the bumpers and we were the pinball. God was there for us that night, I know it.

If we were living in the days of old, I would build a monument in that median where God’s hand protected us from a very not OK situation. But instead, I’ve built a monument in my heart. To this day whenever we drive by that spot, I remember that night and say a silent Thank You to Him. How about you?

Do you ever have times in your life that things seem like they’re spinning out of control and you’re getting bumped around like a human pinball in a very not OK situation? Are you still waiting for that breakthrough moment where the earth can give way and allow you to get back on track?

The Word says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life,” Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG).

My friends, I encourage you to hold on to that “be still” moment and allow Him to take control of your worries and to settle your situation. He has promised so many good things to you and He’s not about to let you flip upside down in defeat! And when you do have your breakthrough, be sure to keep a special place in your heart for a monument and thank Him.

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