An Altar In a ’49 Ford

We often think of the place we go to meet God is at the altar in the confines of a Church, but Jesus can meet you anywhere. That altar of invocation can happen any place and that includes in a ’49 Ford. There’s a great song by Johnny Cash called, “Would You Recognize Jesus,” it says that you can find Him everywhere throughout the circumstances of your Life. The Chorus goes onto say, “Would you recognize Jesus if you met Him face to face, or would you think He’s just another face you couldn’t place? Jesus might not come in a chariot of the Lord. Jesus might be riding in a ’49 Ford.”

This song has special meaning to me as I reflect back over my life and my family’s history. Over sixty years ago now, my father was riding in a ’49 Ford with my grandma. They were going to pick up my grandpa from work. Just another average day. My grandparents were just young kids, still in their teens and struggling to get started in life. My father was just about two years old then and this was in a time before they had car seat laws for children. On that fateful day that afternoon to pick up my grandpa, my grandma’s car, with my father in the front seat, was hit by a drunk driver. The driver of the other car survived with just minor injuries. Not the case for my grandma. Looking at a picture of the wreck you would be amazed that anyone would have survived. They had to cut the door off to get to her and all she wanted was her baby who was violently thrown into the windshield. My father still has the scars on his face from this accident today. My grandma’s leg went through the floor board into the engine compartment and it is a wonder her and my dad survived.

She would go on to have over thirty six painful surgeries in attempt to save her leg and be in a body cast for many months. It wouldn’t be until years later that my grandfather and my grandma would make their decision to follow Christ. But long before they made their decision to choose Christ in the annals of eternity Christ chose to save them. I believe Jesus was riding in that ’49 Ford. He was there when they were hit. His hand protected that young baby from certain death and his teenage mother. He heard that baby’s cry and that mother’s voice screaming for her child. And more than that he heard their hearts cry for a Savior long before they knew they had need for one.

As I look back to see in the rear view mirror of my own life’s history, I can see God’s providence and his hand following me as he gently directed my steps and sheltered me through out my own life. Many years later I was driving my truck down to the church that my Grandpa now pastors to shovel the snow prior to the morning service. The road was still covered that morning in a layer of freshly fallen snow. And as I continued down the road that morning to the Church I encountered a dangerous stretch of road and lost control of my truck. Traffic was coming right at me and I couldn’t do anything, but He was there. Jesus guided my truck right into a telephone pole where I came safely to a stop and then the light on the pole fell down upon my truck. The light hit just the right spot as to not fall through my roof. As I sat there dazed and realizing what just happened, I realized God’s hand upon me. With my driver door smashed into the pole I had to crawl out the passenger side. As I stood there a lady came out and offered her phone to me. This was in the days before everybody had a smart phone. After I called my dad to come pick me up from my own accident, I surveyed the landscape and realized how blessed I was. Many people had lost their lives on that same road. I stood there and then I saw it. A ditch just fifteen feet from my truck that I could have landed in. It looked like something you wouldn’t be able to survive, but Jesus was there with me. This I know and it reminds me of what Augustine once said, “Man is immortal until his work is done.” I believe God had a reason for sparing me as I shockingly looked over myself to have just walked away with a few small scratches on my hand. Jesus was there.

The Bible tells us that man plans his ways, but it’s the LORD who directs his steps. He has been there all along in my life and the life of so many of my family. And if you will allow God to open your eyes, you will see Him too. And be prepared to be amazed. He is a loving God who seeks His children out and saves them. He is the LORD of host who hears your plea when you call to him. He was there at the dawn of creation. He was there in that lowly manger as he came to save His children. He was there on the cross as He took my sin as His own so I could be free from my sin forever.

Jesus was there in that ’49 Ford. He walked my grandparents through that tragedy and turned it into part of their testimony. My grandma with a stiff leg and the scars that remind her all these years later of that moment, will gladly tell you that she will one day get a new leg when she gets to heaven. More importantly she will let you know how blessed her and my grandpa have been to have already received their new life in Christ. The scars we carry as Christians can carry us through the pains of our life and strengthen us as we look back on them and see that God’s hand was upon us all the time. They remain to remind us that Jesus was there. Look to Him in your hopeless situation and circumstances and when you look to Him He will be found. But you must look and be Saved. May God open Your eyes and you will find Him there. He was in that ’49 Ford and He was with me in that truck and when you look to Him, you will find that He is there with you. What a blessing of assurance. May God open your eyes to see His Son in the daily circumstance of your life, guiding you in His redemptive plan of salvation. If you look you will find Jesus is There. You will find that the common places of life can be the best places to have an altar of worship to our Lord and Savior. Even if it’s an altar in a ’49 Ford in a moment of great need. When you look back you’ll find that Jesus was there. Look to Him. Worship Him. And give to Him the sacrifice of your praises that is due His Holy name. When you do, you’ll find that He is there.

“A Wretch Like Me” – David D. Hanson

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