Welcome to Saturday Share!
The purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus. It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line. Our race isn’t finished as long as there’s still breath in our lungs.
I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives. Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 NIV
I am delighted to introduce you to my feature Saturday Share writer:
In The Shadows
By Jēnna Shook
My faith journey has taken many different roads over the course of my life and like everyone else, I have faced challenges along the way, so deciding on which story to share wasn’t easy. But as I began praying about what part of my journey to tell here, I was quite surprised at the answer I received. For it was not the story that I had even considered telling. But the Lord kept prompting me, “This is part of your faith journey. This is partly what has built you into the strong person you are today. Surviving. Day by day. Accept it. Share it. Share Me.” So, today I am sharing.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and staff, they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4 NIV
When my children were much younger, one morning just like any other, I was driving them to school with a plan to go on to work. We were heading down our usual route and about to approach the train tracks about 30 feet ahead when a train appeared without warning!
It was August and the overgrowth of trees that were still in full bloom completely surrounded the tracks except for just where the road was. The train wasn’t heard nor seen before it appeared. The train did not fire off its whistle or give any warning that it was approaching the intersection. It simply appeared! We have witnesses to that fact.
When I saw the train I slammed on my brakes, but they locked up and that’s when a full-fledged panic plunged deep into my heart. I knew then what was ahead of us. I was certain I was about to meet my Maker and take my children with me. My husband was about to lose his entire family with one single blow.
All I could think of was to cry out, “Oh God!” I watched helplessly and what seemed like in slow motion, as our car skid for the last 20 feet of road and crashed headfirst directly into the fuel tank of that ongoing train. I swerved the car slightly so my corner of the car would hit first. I took the impact of the hit. In my mind, I expected an explosion. I expected to be gone in an instant. But unexpectedly, that didn’t happen.
After the crash, it took me a moment to realize…we were still there.
But it wasn’t over…not yet.
At first, I was stunned until I heard my daughter screaming and I realized we had turned sideways and were hooked to the train track beside the train. If I didn’t do something quick, we would either be pulled under the train and crushed or pushed off into the ravine to the side of the tracks.
Somehow I was able to process this and did the only thing I knew to do. I jerked the steering wheel as hard to the right as I could and gunned the gas. The car jumped hard, but it worked! The car swerved off the track and we hit a stop sign….the only thing that also stopped us from going straight down into the ravine below.
We were alive and safe. God had spared us. Death eluded us that day….barely.
Thank you, Lord!
When I regained some presence of mind, I turned around to check on my kids. My son was fine but had come out of his seat belt during the impact. My daughter was also okay, but visibly shaken. I was so shocked that nothing had happened to them. After I saw no harm had come to the kids, I turned straight ahead to try and process it all, to think about what to do, but I couldn’t think or move.
I still had a death grip on the steering wheel and I was trembling so bad I couldn’t let go of it. The next thing I knew my car door opened and it was my husband’s aunt, who was our next-door neighbor. With horror, she had recognized our car and ran to help. First responders hadn’t yet arrived and she was the first one on the scene.
She forced me to let go of the steering wheel and I must have passed out because the next thing I remember is waking up on a board on the ground with my neck in a brace. There was an ambulance to the right of me and when I looked to the left of me to get my bearings, I saw the train had stopped and was blocking the road.
But then I noticed something else. When my eyes focused better I realized that my husband had climbed up and over the train from the other side and was now climbing down this side of the train to make sure his family was okay. Somehow he was going to get to us, by whatever means necessary. And he did.
When I saw the car sometime later, I lost my breath. The car was a total loss. I have no idea how the inside of the car stayed intact when the outside had crumbled. But in my heart, there was no doubt how. The stop sign that caught us was nearly completely run over, but it had held up our car, somehow.
God was good and worthy to be praised! Thankfully, God wasn’t done with us that day.
“Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91: 14-16 NIV
A few weeks later at a Fifth Sunday Service, I was asked to sing, but first I felt led to give my testimony. My message to the congregation was that no one is promised tomorrow. I pleaded to everyone there that if they didn’t have their life and heart right with God, if they didn’t know where they were going after they took their last breath, to please make that decision today.
Because as I had recently found out, you don’t have that mental capacity in the midst of those kinds of formidable circumstances to say, “God, please forgive me and save my soul.” You may not have that much time. It’s a scary thought that we don’t like to think about. It’s easy in our everyday lives to take it for granted that we will just have tomorrow or next year to plan for or look forward to.
I know most days I’m of that mindset without even realizing it. But we aren’t promised the next moment. This decision will be the most important one of our entire lives. We have to live every day with that certainty in mind. Now I know from experience, our very lives depend on it.
After that horrible time, I dug into God’s word and the verse that spoke to me sums up all I’ve been through in my faith journey through this experience. It has become the verse with which I most identify within the Bible.
“I am under vows to you, O God; I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56: 12-13 NIV
Every time I see those train tracks, I feel blessed to see another day. Why God spared me, I do not know completely, but perhaps it was to give me a chance to share this story. Even though I felt no one would care to hear, and I am choosing to give witness to what a great God we serve. Perhaps it’s to confirm to someone of their need to accept Christ now.
As I am writing this, I have come to believe after all this time that I have more purpose now than I ever realized…and more responsibility. Sharing the love and life of Christ to others, to reach out when I see a need, to care more about others than myself, and to prove that there is hope for every circumstance, though things may feel completely hopeless. For with God, all things are possible.
Because of that, I can face tomorrow…and all the shadows this life dares to bring. I rejoice because my story turned from “In the Shadows” to “He Rescued Me!” To God be the Glory! I live with a grateful heart because I lived to share another day. So, thank you for letting me share a portion of my life with you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Praise the Lord! God is good!
Onward and Upward!
Jēnna Shook lives in Mississippi and works as an events coordinator at a local university where she has served for over twenty-five years. In her job, she has been blessed to counsel many young people through her own life experiences and her passion is to encourage those she comes in contact with. She is married and has a grown son and daughter. She is a member of Pinelake Baptist Church, where she is part of a small group and serves on the baptism committee. Other than family and friends, her three loves are music/singing, writing, and reading. She is a movie buff and an avid animal lover. Two of her most favorite things that make her feel closest to God are sunrises and sunsets.
Through a sunrise, once in a while, God reminds her of the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. While driving to work, occasionally, she can see the sun behind her in both side mirrors and in the rearview mirror of her car, all three “suns” at the same time. She describes it as the most unique and glorious feeling. She considers it God’s little gift to her in those moments as if being wrapped and lavished in God’s love. Sunshine will always be special to her because of that amazing sight and those close encounters with her Lord and Savior.
For any comments or to connect with her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org