A Matter of Inches

Last spring I was working at home when I received a call from a number that I did not recognize. I let it go to voice mail. The same number called again so I decided it might be important and answered. On the other end of the line I heard a strange female voice asking me if I had a daughter, who was an Indiana University student. When I answered in the affirmative, the voice told me that my daughter had been run over by a car while walking on campus and that she was going to the hospital in an ambulance.

My wife and I got into the car and drove across town to the hospital, fearing the worst and yet trying to hope for the best. We offered short, pathetic prayers as we went. When we got to the hospital we were told that we would have to wait. Our daughter was being assessed. In the ride over we called the mystery number back and asked for more information. The young women explained that our daughter had been walking across the street in a cross-walk and that a car stopped at the stop sign there. While our daughter was in the middle of the street, the car suddenly accelerated, knocking her to the ground. She repeated that the car had “run over” our daughter.

Eventually we were taken back to talk to the EMT’s who had brought our daughter to the hospital. To our amazement – and theirs – they told us that while the car had knocked her down and passed completely over the top of her, it appeared that neither the wheels nor the undercarriage had hit our daughter. When we finally saw her, we rejoiced to discover that she really did seem to be ok. Terrorized, bruised, and cut but whole. One of the nurses took me aside and said, “We see a lot of these situations and very few of them turn out like this.”

By the grace of God our daughter’s life was preserved. We can attribute it to nothing except His mercy. Months later we were able to meet the driver of the car. I looked under the front axle. There was less than a foot of clearance. How our daughter with a backpack on her back had fit under the car without being hit or crushed or dragged remains a complete mystery to us. We take comfort in knowing that it is not a mystery to Him Who holds our lives in His hands.

Sometimes the difference between life and death is only a matter of inches or seconds. We may narrowly escape. We may not escape a close call. There is only one way to live with that uncertainty and that is by knowing the One Who watches over His people and Who rules over every atom in the universe. I thank Him that He spared my daughter’s life on that day. I thank Him even more that my daughter belongs to Him and that He loves her more than I ever could.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:1-4, ESV).


  1. Charity Mann January 28, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    Wow! I am so thankful with you that she is okay! That is terrifying but amazing that God protected her. Thank you for sharing! I saw you from a distance at Dave’s funeral and wished I could have said hi. We think fondly of your family and hope we can catch up someday soon!

    • Rich Holdeman January 29, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

      Hi Charity,
      Great to hear from you. We do praise God for His grace. Sorry we missed speaking to you at the funeral. Come visit us some time!

  2. Minda T January 28, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    Pastor Rich, thank you for sharing that. It’s good to be reminded again and again of God’s sovereignty and love for us–when things turn out the way we want and when they don’t.

    • Rich Holdeman January 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

      Hi Minda,

      It’s great to hear from you! I hope you are all doing very well. Perhaps we can see you in FL this spring. Thanks for reading our blog!

  3. Anna January 28, 2016 at 10:56 pm #

    My cousin Paul, of similar age and build, also faced this kind of situation and did not survive.

    • Rich Holdeman February 1, 2016 at 9:28 am #

      I am terribly sorry to hear that Anna. I knew when I wrote this post that there would be other stories that did not turn out so well (from our perspective). I do pray for God’s comfort for you and your family.

  4. Jacqueline January 29, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

    I can relate to this post so much! We got a call asking us to come down to emergency – our daughter had broke her back (not determined for 18 hours in acute trauma emergency room). We waited with bated breath and anxious hearts, turning our thoughts to the Lord and to trusting in Him. She is recovering – in back brace and WALKING!!! Our only hope is in Him in the harrowing moments AND the joyful ones…we just recognize it more in the harrowing ones. PTL for His mercies which are new every morning.

    • Rich Holdeman February 1, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      Yes, praise God for His mercies. I am so glad to hear that she is recovering!


  1. Check out | HeadHeartHand Blog - January 29, 2016

    […] A Matter of Inches How about this for a phone call? […]

  2. A Matter Of Inches - February 2, 2016

    […] Holdeman is the pastor of the Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, IN. This article is used with […]

  3. A Matter Of Inches - IKTHUS.NETIKTHUS.NET - February 2, 2016

    […] Holdeman is the pastor of the Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, IN. This article is used with […]

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.