It was summertime in North Georgia, just before dusk at the end of a long workday and service at church. In those days, we provided a hot meal for the community once a month on a Wednesday evening as part of our weekly House of Hope outreach at Blessed Hope Baptist Church, where I serve as the Pastor. I had just left the church to head back home for the evening, and I only made it a few miles down the road when it happened.
Traffic was heavy but moving well at around 55 miles per hour. There was a gas station on the left side of the road just across from another church in our community on the right side. As I approached, I could see several church members talking in their parking lot. The church parking lot is tiny, and the building itself sits very close to the highway. It happened in an instant, and I had no time to react.
A lovely 80 pound white American Bulldog darted into traffic. He almost ran into the truck in front of me, and before I could slam on the brakes, I heard a loud thud and felt the impact against the front of my car. Like a dream in slow motion, I could see that poor dog sailing through the air end over end like a giant football kicked through the goalposts. As my car slid to a stop, the dog’s body landed at least 60 feet ahead of where I came to a halt.
By this time, traffic had stopped in both directions as some of the church members ran onto the asphalt and gathered around the dog. I unbuckled my seat belt and, leaving the car door open; I walked toward the lifeless animal. He wasn’t breathing, and there was blood running out of his nose and mouth. Tears welled up in my eyes as the owner ran into the street sobbing. I looked to my right to see a mother holding some children back, and they were all crying. They were devastated . . . I was devastated . . . and the dog was dead.
I was at a loss for words. Anyone who knows me very well knows that some of my favorite people are dogs. I believe that they are some of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. It’s the way they love unconditionally, their unwavering loyalty, and their unending excitement to greet you upon arrival. They’re amazing, and I love all of them. I was absolutely heartbroken.
I collected my thoughts for a moment and offered my sincerest apologies for what happened. There was no way I could have stopped the car, but I still felt horrible. The dog’s father knelt down and carefully embraced the lifeless body in his arms. Then, he carried it out of the road and across the church parking lot to the side of the building and laid it down on the ground.
I turned my head back in the direction of my car, still parked in the middle of the road at this point. I could hardly believe my eyes . . . the damage was a lot worse than I expected. We had to use zip ties and duct tape to hold the bent and broken plastic out of the wheel well so I could drive it home. The dog’s owner admitted that he should’ve had the dog on a leash, or at least he should’ve been watching it more closely, considering they were right next to a busy highway.
He apologized for the extensive damage to my car and gave me his name and phone number. He said he’d be glad to help me get the vehicle repaired. I told him I’d call my insurance company and that if I needed help with the deductible, I’d let him know.
Honestly, I had no idea how much the repairs would cost. I called the insurance company, and they set up an appointment to estimate the repairs. As it turns out, the dog had, indeed, done quite a bit of damage: $2,300.00 worth of damage, to be exact! Money was pretty tight in our household at that time, so I prayed about it and gave it some thought, trying to decide how to handle things.
A few days had passed since I hit the dog with my car, and I still felt terrible for the family. I decided I would call and let them know how much damage was done and how much my insurance deductible was. I wasn’t going to ask him to pay, but if he offered to help, I would ask him to split the deductible with me. If he didn’t offer to help, I wouldn’t ask him to. I thought that was beyond reasonable given the circumstances and considering that he had already offered to help out.
His phone number was on a small piece of paper that I retrieved from my wallet. I called the number, and the phone began to ring. A man answered, and I told him who I was. What he said next blew me away. He said, “Preacher, you’re not gonna believe this. By the time we got home, it was dark, so I carried that dog back behind the house with the intention of burying it the next day after work. Well, sometime during the night or that next morning, that dog came back to life!”
Startled and amazed, I interrupted, “Come again . . . did you say that dog came back to life?”
He said, “Yes, sir! We couldn’t believe it. I ain’t no veterinarian, but I know that dog was graveyard dead. He wasn’t breathing, blood was leaking from his nose and mouth, and I even thought his body was getting cold. But my wife went out back that morning, and he was up and limping around. So she gave him some water, and he laid down next to the bowl after getting a drink. He’s moving slowly, limping a little, but he’s walking around eating and drinking, and it looks like he’s gonna be just fine. It’s a miracle!”
When he said that, I remembered praying a desperate and straightforward prayer when I stepped out of the car the evening of the accident. I said, “Lord Jesus, please don’t let this dog be dead.” As it turned out, Jesus answered that prayer! Now I know that story is hard to believe, but I’m just relating what I saw and heard.
I did see the dog again with my own eyes in that church parking lot several weeks after the incident, alive and well. He indeed appeared to be dead, but whether he was dead or not, there’s no way he should’ve survived being hit by a car at that speed. Either way, it was a miracle in my eyes, but that’s not where the story ends.
The owner agreed to help out with the insurance deductible. It was $1,000.00 . . . $1,000.00 that we didn’t have at the time. I told him I’d call him in a couple of days after we scheduled the repairs with the body shop. I scheduled the repairs and called his number. The phone began to ring, and then it quickly went to his voicemail. I asked him to call me back, but he never did. I called him several times over the next few days to no avail. I was never able to get back in touch with the man. I was very frustrated, and it hurt my feelings, to be honest.
You see, the fact of the matter is that God still does miraculous things, but sometimes miracles come with a price. There’s often a burden, and even breaking, with the blessing. In this case, the miracle came with a situation that demanded humility and grace from me. I did my best to be Christ-like. I forgave the man and continued to pray for him and his family. God ended up supplying the money for the deductible, and we were able to get the car fixed.
It reminded me of Matthew Chapter 14 when Jesus took the little boy’s lunch and fed the multitude. There were only five loaves and two fish available that day to feed a crowd of thousands of people. Verse 19 is notable because it says that Jesus blessed and broke the loaves and fish. It’s often the pattern of God to break that which He blesses, even when it’s His people. So don’t be surprised when your blessings come with a breaking.
Josh attended seminary through Rock of Ages Baptist Bible Institute out of Cleveland, TN. He has held about every position one could hold in a local church: Sunday school teacher, Children’s Church Preacher, Bus Ministry Director/Worker, Missions Director, Choir Director, Song Leader, Janitor, etc. In October of 2005, he was ordained as an Assistant Pastor at Rest Haven Baptist Church, and that’s where he served until God called him into the Pastorate at Enon Baptist Church in Alto, GA at the age of 32. He stepped out by faith in obedience to God’s instructions and quickly received a call from Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Free Home, GA where he now serves as Pastor. In his free time, Josh enjoys spending quality time with his wife (who is his high school sweetheart) and three children: Zoey, Ava, and Jack, as well as reading, writing, hunting, cooking, weight lifting, and martial arts.