God Is with You

Mike KinneyBy Mike Kinney6 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Out of the Fire: How an Angel and Stranger Intervened to Save a Life by Mike Kinney


I’d lived because of an unlikely series of events that many would call “coincidence.” Matt and I had not been speeding. We’d not been drinking. A rotting tree and the brush guards on my truck had dampened the brutal impact of the head-on collision. My truck had missed plowing into a concrete barrier by inches. Having so little gas in my tank when I crashed prevented an explosion. An odd, reluctant stranger helped extract me from the burning vehicle. And then there was the Good Physician, kneeling beside me, doing His work.

When there was absolutely nothing I could do to help myself, God provided a mighty quartet of helpers to rescue me. I don’t take one of them for granted. Rather, I see each one as a sign of God’s steadfast Presence with me.

Matt was the “expected helper.” He knew me. He was my friend. He cared. But there were countless understandable reasons he could have kept a safe distance from my truck that night, starting with common sense. Fear of the truck exploding might have caused him to seek safety. He also might reasonably have figured that I was dead, or would be unlikely to survive. He might have logically calculated that there was no reason for both of us to die senselessly. But there was nothing common about Matt’s logic. He loved me, and he trusted God. That was it. Without thinking of his own safety, he risked himself for my sake.

The “invisible helper” was the angelic presence God sent to reassure Matt. This helper wasn’t extinguishing flames or bending metal, but the steadfast presence of that unseen holy one reminded Matt that he was not alone.

The reluctant guy, who we later learned was named John Kirby, was the “unexpected helper.” That poor fellow was just trying to get home after being with friends and had the misfortune to drive past the site of my wreck at exactly the wrong—and by wrong I mean right—moment. Despite a very healthy dose of fear, this unlikely helper, like Matt, risked his own safety so I could live.

Many of those who are familiar with Jesus’s story of the Good Samaritan—the man who stopped to help a hurting stranger on the side of the road—take one simple principle from it: help others. But too often we overlook the real scandal of Jesus’s parable that would have shocked its first audience. The “hero” of the story wasn’t a faithful Jew, like Jesus and His audience; he was a Samaritan who would likely have been despised both by the man he helped and by Jesus’s listeners. Jesus was lauding the sacrifice of the “unexpected helper.” That was John Kirby.

And the final aide God provided, the one I’ll call the “reliable helper,” was the Person of Jesus. In ways that I will never understand, He showed himself to be faithful and present with Matt as He gently began to knit my body back together. The person of Jesus we meet in the gospels is the same Person who showed up to care for me.

When we endure fiery trials in our lives, it’s natural to wonder if God is with us and for us in our suffering. Of course we wonder. We desperately want to believe that God was near—that God is near—but a quiet part of us fears that in our darkest moment we are alone. And our feelings—of anxiety, sadness, anger, and confusion—bully us. Echoing the voice of the enemy, our feelings hiss that God is not present. God is not good. God cannot be trusted.

And yet as God’s gracious Spirit opens the eyes of our hearts, we begin to notice the ways He has been present in our suffering. He provides “expected” helpers, like Matt. They stick by us, like brothers, like sisters, in our most terrifying moments. And like the “invisible” angelic presence in my truck, God is present with us spiritually in ways we might not even understand. God also shows up through “unexpected” aides like John Kirby. Maybe an acquaintance says just the right word to you at just the right time. Or an unlikely stranger might pause to offer assistance when you need it most. And sometimes we have the privilege of witnessing the steadfast, faithful presence of the “reliable” Helper who is Jesus. Matt got to see Him with his eyes. And, after that night, I would grow to see Him clearly with the eyes of my heart.

Beloved, a gracious God longs to make His presence known to you through the person of Jesus. It’s what He did a few thousand years ago in coming to be with us in the flesh and it’s what He does today.

Order your copy of Out of the Fire: How an Angel and Stranger Intervened to Save a Life by Mike Kinney