A young college-age student was returning home from dropping her little sister off at school, when she could not avoid hitting a 7 year old pedestrian who darted out in front
of her 1970’s era Chevrolet Impala. Only when I became an adult did I really begin to understand the emotions that ran through this young lady that day. Doug tells how after seeing me bounce off the bumper of the car like a rag doll and then skip head first across the gravel, he ran all the way home to get Mom. Mom tells of her disbelief and panicked realization. Only as a parent raising a boy that is too similar to my father’s middle son, do I realize the pain my parents experienced that summer. All the plans for the Summer had to change. All the hopes for a 7 year old boy were put on hold. Yet even with all the hurt and disappointment the events of the summer of 1974 brought; there remains evidence of a silver, if not golden, lining.
Let me interject here that I do not believe the Bible teaches that every event in life is predetermined. I do not think God causes every event or allows every event in order to work His purpose. I do however believe that His people can take the events of life, both good and bad, and at the least learn from them, or even to help them in their walk with God. The life of Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) exemplifies this point. Paul was not necessarily imprisoned because God wanted him there – Paul taught the gospel and man arrested him. While incarcerated Paul would use his talents for God and would convert many – a jailer in Philippi, a run away slave named Onesimus, and some in Caesar’s household.
We did not get to make our excursion out West and we did not get a Color TV. I wondered how I was going to be the ring bearer in a wedding if I could not walk. I found out that my walking was the least of my parents worries. I have no memory of the first three days in ICU at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. Later I would learn that there were moments in those early days when medical professionals questioned my survival, and my ability to learn to walk if I survived. The three weeks that followed are full of memories – nurses, doctors, family, and church folk visiting me. Then there were the cards. All four walls of my room had cards all over them. Cards from school friends, cards church friends, cards from family, and cards from people I did not know but Mom and Dad did. What an impact! I began then to realize that there were a lot of people that cared about me and wanted me to get better. Rick Bird and Mary-Lou Favorite still wanted me in their wedding, they would even let me use a wheel chair or crutches if I had too. I learned the power of encouragement. Those encouraging cards, visits, and messages led to the development of a personality trait:
Determination! I did not know that word then, but I developed the trait. I determined that I was going to get out of the hospital and would walk with out crutches in time for the wedding. After nine weeks (three in the hospital and six at home in a cast up to my waist), I received crutches. After a couple of weeks using the crutches, I put them aside and walked with that pillow and the rings up the aisle for the wedding.
Determination! I determined to do what I could to make people happy. I determined to help people have a reason to laugh, or at least to smile, especially children.
Determination! I promised God that I would be His person if He would help me through. He did! My favorite Bible story from as far back as I can remember was of Hannah promising Samuel to God in service to Eli the priest. In the hospital, while in bed at home, and when in that reclined wheel chair, I thought about the young boy Samuel who heard God’s voice. I thought about what he must have felt like being away from his mother contrasted with the thrill of serving God. A few years later, when I was old enough to decide for myself I gave my life to God in Christ. I confessed my faith to the congregation and the preacher buried me in the blood of Christ lowering me into the waters of baptism. I came up from that event of faith as a newborn child of God, ready to serve the Lord of my life.
More tomorrow — tune back in.