Photo: Felix Carroll
Trust Jesus? Roger that!
Pennsylvania trucker takes The Divine Mercy on the road
Jesus assures us our prayers will be answered. "And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened," He says (Mt 7:8). But Michael Kushner didn't know that 23 years ago. Desperation, not faith, prompted him to knock.
It was around midnight. He was barreling down a desert road in California in his 18-wheeler, heading toward San Diego. He rounded a bend just before a bridge and saw a sight that would change him forever.
"God, help me!" he cried.
An instant later, his truck collided headfirst into an 18-wheeler that had overturned on the bridge only moments before. Upon impact, the front end of Michael's truck crushed like a beer can. The dashboard smashed into his leg, shattering it.
Doctors rebuilt his leg. God rebuilt his soul.
"I said, 'God, help me,' and He did. Now, I'm just repaying Him, every day," says Michael, as he taps his finger upon the very symbol of his repayment. Painted on each side of his truck is the image of Jesus as The Divine Mercy, along with the words "Jesus, I trust in You!"
His faith was solidified in the late 1980s when, on a religious retreat, he came face-to-face with a framed image of The Divine Mercy. "It captured me," he says. "It was as if I had been led to it all along. Jesus, in that image, promises to take care of us if only we turn to Him in trust."
Soon after, he had the image painted on his truck.
"I want others to see His face, to help people understand that Jesus is real," he says.
Before the accident, Michael lived the fast life. He was obsessed with money. Yet, he felt unfulfilled. During his long, slow recovery following the accident, he began to understand how it's not about what you earn or own.
"It's about faith," says Michael, who lives in McKees Rocks, PA. "It's about going beyond ourselves, thinking of others, and always allowing God to be the center. For me, it's no longer about 'I,' 'me,' and 'mine.' It's about 'we,' 'us,' 'they,' and 'ours.'"
He figures he drives about 100,000 miles a year. Countless people see the image. Many of them make nice comments about it. Such was the case when Michael pulled up for a visit at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA, on Feb. 3, after making a delivery to nearby Springfield. His truck drew plenty of attention.
"I love it," said Debra Connolly, a Shrine visitor from upstate New York. "That's one big rig I wouldn't be afraid of on the highway!"
As Michael was packing up to leave, he shared something that delights him to no end. He stores his luggage in the truck's side compartments, whose doors contain the image of The Divine Mercy. After he turns the key to those doors, he must give them a little bang with his fist.
A knock, you could call it. Then, they open. It's only fitting.