A near miss can be the greatest blessing you ever have…

When my family and I lived in Hawaii, we often had to make the drive from our town to Honolulu. It was only about a 25 minute drive. The main way to make the trip was driving on one of only two interstate highways on the island of Oahu. Yes, it’s silly, but Hawaii has an interstate.

On one of those trips, I began making a lane change, and my wife screamed like she was being skinned alive.

I didn’t know what was going on, but instinctively, I swerved BACK into the lane I was moving out of. I’m so glad, I did.

She had seen something that I hadn’t seen. A large truck was barreling down the highway in the lane that I was moving into. I hadn’t seen it. I don’t know why, but I didn’t. If I had continued moving into that lane, the truck would most likely have plowed right into us, at highway speeds.

Do you know what happened to me, as a result of that near miss? I learned to ALWAYS look carefully, multiple times, before changing lanes.

Why is a near miss so powerful?

When you almost experience a huge disaster, it does something for you. It does something deep, deep down on your gut. As I’ve thought about that phenomenon, here’s the way I have come to understand it…

  • A near miss humbles you. You realize, as in my example, that you have blind-spots. That puts the fear of God in you… or at least the fear of bid trucks.
  • A near miss reveals what is valuable to you. After my wife screamed, after we watched the truck speed by, after my heart stopped pounding, I realized how much I would have lost, had my wife not warned me about the oncoming truck. I would have lost her, 4 kids, and most likely, my own life too. I realized right there, my wife’s scream (though it irritated me, initially) was not a big deal. In fact, it wasn’t important at all. What mattered to me right then, was my family. What matters to me now, is my family.
  • A near miss motivates change. Wisdom is all about seeing what COULD happen, and determining a way to avoid that outcome. A near miss reveals what could happen, and makes you realize that if you don’t change something, you’re going to regret the results that of what is barreling down on you. You are motivated to make a change, in view of what matters to you.

That one near miss, humbled me, revealed what is valuable to me, and motivated me toward change. Who knows, it’s possible that my increased driving caution that came as a result of that event, may have saved us from some disastrous results already.

A real life example

I once spoke with a young husband who confided in me that he had gotten embroiled in pornography, and as a result began inappropriate interactions on Facebook. He did all this without his wife’s knowledge (naturally). He did all this in a very deceitful way, lying to his wife’s face when she asked him if he was having any kind of struggle with lust, porn, etc.

He told me about his failure, after his wife had discovered it. Here are the impacts of this “near miss”…

FOR HIS WIFE: She was furious, naturally. Emotionally, she was ready to divorce. But her relationship with Christ told her that divorce was not an option. She struggled through the anger (justified anger), the reality of her husband’s betrayal, and what it said about the state of his relationship with Christ. She was faithful to walk through all of those things for the sake of helping her husband move into a healthier, more vibrant place.

FOR HIM: He was a broken man. He was humbled by his own weakness. He was mortified that he had been unfaithful to his wife, and the vows he had made to her on their wedding day. He was embarrassed by the fact that he knew how to avoid that kind of temptation and sin, but hadn’t done it. He was amazed at how close he had come to losing his wife, his son, his blessed life, and the respect and relationships he enjoyed with friends and family. But most importantly, this young man learned that his relationship with Christ is vitally important, every day. He went so far into sin because he had moved away from Christ, inch by inch, over a long period of time.

A near miss is a gift from God… no matter the context.

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Yes, if the near miss came about because of sin (like the example above), you are responsible for it happening in the first place. But the fact remains that God will use that near miss to bring about good in your life (Romans 8:28). He allowed it so that He could use it to bring about good.

I was taught to pay better attention and not be so cavalier when driving on the highway. The young man I mentioned learned that his relationship with Christ is vitally important, every day.

Do your near miss experiences teach you anything? They can. But you have to be wise enough to take the lesson when it comes.

Don’t just wipe the sweat off your brow, say “Whew!”, and go on with life. You need to make sure that the near miss you’ve experienced has the positive impact it should have.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Stop.
  • Evaluate what happened.
  • Be humble enough to consider your part in bringing about what happened.
  • Ask someone else to help you look at the situation objectively.
  • Make the needed changes.

One of the best skills you can ever develop in life, is the ability to maximize the power of a near miss. Don’t waste the opportunity.