As I was writing this chapter, my wife and I were staying at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. That day, May 18, 2017, an intoxicated man drove his car over the curb, killing an eighteen-year-old girl and injuring twenty-two others. His car finally stopped when it smashed into the barriers in front of our hotel.
I’d come to New York to speak to a group of pastors, part of an event sponsored by one of the networks that carries our radio program. The pastor’s event was in Brooklyn, more than an hour’s drive in traffic from our hotel. Since I was going to be involved all morning, I’d encouraged Donna to stay at our hotel, get up a bit later, and enjoy a relaxing morning.
As our event in Brooklyn was ending, I was told there’d been an incident in Manhattan. At that point many assumed it was an act of terrorism. My heart raced as I tried to call Donna. At first we couldn’t connect, but minutes later I was relieved to hear her voice. She told me she was okay but the hotel was locked down. If you saw television coverage of that incident, you were probably as shocked as I was to see Times Square completely empty.
My heart went out to the injured and their families, and my focus moved to how to get to the hotel to pick up my wife so we could go home. But all streets leading to Times Square were cordoned off. As I was trying to figure out what to do, I got a call from the guest manager of the hotel, who is also our friend. He told me not to worry; he would handle things. Within a few minutes, he directed our driver to an intersection two blocks from the hotel. The hotel manager had talked to the chief of police, and he told us to ask for a particular lieutenant when we got to this intersection. That officer, he said, would let us through the barricades so we could get to the hotel.
Sure enough, we arrived at the appointed intersection and met the lieutenant and two of his officers. The chief of police had wired them a picture of me that I think came from Wikipedia. They scrutinized the picture, then looked carefully at me, finally deciding we were one and the same.
Then, to my total surprise, all three of them came over to the car with their printouts of my photo. They told me how much they loved our television program and thanked us for caring about New York City. They asked me to autograph their pictures. Then they removed the barricades and let our car through. My God is an awesome God, and He is full of surprises!
I am telling you this story because for a few minutes that morning I felt fear grip my heart. In that moment, I did not feel peace. My thoughts were on my wife and the terrible incident in front of our hotel. What if Donna had decided to take a walk in front of our hotel that morning? (She told me later she’d actually considered doing that.) What if I couldn’t reach her? What if . . . ?
In the face of uncertainty, tragedy, and danger, we all have moments when we’re overcome, when we lose sight of the peace our Lord brought us. In these times our work—and it’s not always easy—is to turn our thoughts and hearts back to God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding. Our work is to immerse ourselves in the peace of Jesus Christ.
David Jeremiah, A Life beyond Amazing: 9 Decisions That Will Transform Your Life Today (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2017).
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