Have you experienced “unmerited favor” in your life and marriage?
I remember clearly that it was Sunday, April 6, 2014 and I was eager to teach about Psalms 121. With each line I felt like every verse was speaking loudly to my life. The theme of my teaching was “The Lord is your Keeper.” During the teaching I spoke about several known mountains from the Bible and the significant events that occurred at each of those locations. I highlighted how God’s presence had become evident to each man and woman during a time of crisis.
Little did I know that Psalms 121 was to become a beacon of hope, during a very dark time just a few days away. The words: “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” became my own supplication to God two days later on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. It was an average morning filled with mundane tasks like any other day. I got up to go to work. I was scheduled to be off campus at a conference in downtown Chicago. The conference ended at noon and my plan for that day was to meet with my then fiancé David, to continue to plan our dream wedding day scheduled just a few months away on July 27, 2014. Between creating the perfect guest list and deciding on the songs that would make that day just right, everything was falling perfectly in its place. After a quick last stop at a grocery store this dream turned into a dark nightmare. In just a couple seconds my world came crumbling down around me. When I came to, all I remember was that I was yelling as loud as I could for HELP, I dialed 911 and I could not stop sobbing. Suddenly, I was surrounded by a crowd of strangers. Some were yelling “leave the scene”, others were yelling “it’s not your fault.” I was in disbelief.
By now you’re asking yourself, what happened? Which was the same question I kept asking myself: “What just happened?” As I was driving out of the grocery store parking lot I made a left turn. Half way through the turn a loud bang startled me as something lands in my hood. I hit the brakes as I try to figure out what just happened. When I look through the rearview mirror, I see this panhandler sitting in the middle of the street. Confused I recall saying to myself: What happened? Is this a prank? Am I having a nightmare? Why is this person sitting in the middle of the street? I could hardly process my thoughts because everything happened so fast I was trying to make sense of it all.
As a crowd of voices comes around me, I am dazed and overwhelmed. I am told that this person has a habit of jumping in front of cars. Inside of me something tells me not to leave the scene. As I am waiting for the police the seconds feel like hours. When an ambulance arrived, I am told by the paramedics the panhandler was overdosed and was going to be taken to the nearest hospital. Never in my life had I needed God to come rescue me than in that moment. When I arrived home, I called David to tell him what had happened and after he listened to me he said: “Babe, don’t worry we will get through this together.” Within months away from our wedding day, our faith and commitment were tested. Later that evening I was told the victim died at the hospital. The nightmare kept getting worse and Psalms 121 was all I kept meditating on, “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.”
During this moment of crisis, David and I chose to trust God. Although my reality was dark, and I was trying to fight depression and despair, I realized how our deep relationship with God was strengthening our relationship with each other. When my faith was weak David’s faith was strong.
On July 27, 2014 we got married and during our first year of marriage we were still dealing with this event through recurring court dates. I think back and realize life would have been a lot more challenging without David’s emotional and spiritual support. I remember one day he looked at me and said: “Babe, even if I have to sell my house and car to help you, I will.” We lived out the declaration from the traditional wedding vows “…for better, for worse, ….” As we lived “for worse” even before saying: I do.
Mid-summer of 2015 I remember going to court with my lawyer. I was so scared as I faced my final verdict. I recall standing frightened in front of the judge, I felt time stopped. The silence fueled my fears as I stood there helpless. All of a sudden, I felt all these emotions taking over me as I was transported back to Tuesday, April 8, 2014. A day that changed my life forever. In that instance, I started to cry and pray Psalms 121 in my mind. I could not stop crying. After the judge finished watching the video of the accident on April 8, 2014 she looked at the prosecutor and said, “before I give the verdict I want to let you know you did an excellent job.”
Here came the moment I feared the most. She said, “today I declare Raquel innocent of all charges.” I could not believe my ears. Everything seemed so surreal. I knew it was a tragic accident and there was no way to avoid it even though I kept trying to find a way that I could have. My lawyer, the police, the detective, David, my therapist, my family kept repeating those words to me since day one: “Raquel, it was an accident” but knowing a life had ended is a tragedy that was now part of my story and I was having a difficult time finding closure.
At that point, I thought of the many possible outcomes this trial could have had but in the end what was most evident was God’s grace over my life. I was living the real meaning of God’s Grace. God’s grace defines as “unmerited favor- His goodness toward those who have no claim on, nor reason to expect, divine favor.” Today, I am a walking testimony of the scriptures on Psalm 121: “The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in [everything that you do] From this time forth and forever.”
Psalm 121 Amplified Bible (AMP)
121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills [of Jerusalem]—From where shall my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not allow your foot to slip; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber [briefly] nor sleep [soundly].
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun will not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will protect you from all evil; he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in [everything that you do] From this time forth and forever.
30 Day Devotional
This resource can help you and your family encounter Scripture together and make deeper connections with God and each other. This has been designed to be used during the month of July, but you can use it at any time. We suggest you begin Day 1 on a Sunday because some activities are designed around the weekend and Sunday worship. God bless you!