It was November 26, 2010, the day after Thanksgiving. The day I received a phone call that would change my life forever. It was the phone call I’ve always dreaded I would receive, and yet the one I always expected. Let me explain…
When I was 5 my Daddy was in a terrible car accident and was pronounced dead. Later we were told he was alive again and the doctors said he would make it. Days into his recovery I went with my grandparents to see the car, and I did the only thing my 5 year old self could do to express how I felt…I threw up.
From that day forward I lived in fear that I would lose someone close to me in a car accident. When I was 19 I did. It was a close friend that I considered a brother; he was hit head-on by a drunk driver and killed. My fear grew stronger by the time I was married with kids. Whenever I was without my family and I would hear sirens, my heart would race and I was sure they were dead. I lived in such a strong bondage of fear that I would do what my husband called, ‘psycho’ dialing, calling him until I got an answer…even if it took 20 times. When I ‘surrendered’ my life to Jesus Christ and became a Christian I still burdened myself with fear, even when I was supposedly ‘trusting in the Lord’ I showed that I lacked faith and “something” more.
But then it happened, and it was ‘game day’.
“Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
My children and I were relaxing at home; my husband and his friend were coming back from a football game and I had just spoken to him 20 minutes before when the phone rang again. It was another man’s voice and I immediately knew what he was about to tell me:
“Is this the wife of…” His voice trailed off, my heart raced and I quickly glanced at my 5 year old son watching a dinosaur DVD. I replied calmly, “Yes, please just tell me what happened, did he get into an accident?” “Ma’am, your husband and his friend were in a serious head-on collision, please remain calm”. I told myself, ‘This is it. This is ‘game day’—a day my faith is tested’. I had just studied the book of James and the Holy Spirit reminded me James 1:2-4, so I quickly humbled myself under the mighty hand of God and hid in Jesus Christ and asked my next question, “Are they OK?” Pause.
“Uh, Ma’am I don’t know, they can’t move they are pinned into the car; but your husband wants to talk to you…” I exhale, emptying myself and take a deep breath believing it is God’s breath, His Spirit filling me…overflowing. The next voice I hear was my beloved groom, crushed, soft, weak, in pain. I fall to my knees as he says, “Babe, I need you to pray, I’m hurt real bad. It doesn’t look good babe, not good at all, I can’t breathe. I love you. Please pray.”
‘Yes, OK, OK, OK, God is good, God is good, God is good’ was all I could say. Then I said I understand. I did understand. I understood this was us saying our good-byes; I shot another glance at my son who was oblivious to what was going on, and I thought about going into another room to pray but I realized this too was a teachable moment for him…’this is how we handle trials my dear beloved son…we humble ourselves, we praise our Creator and go to His throne of grace and ask for what we need to accept His sovereign will.’ I opened my mouth and began clinging to God’s Truth. Word. Jesus. Beginning with:
“You are good God, no matter what. You are sovereign, you are above all things, You are Holy, there is none like You. You are our creator, help us to pray for we are weak and we do not know how we ought to pray and we have groans too deep for words and we know you will use this trial for good to those who are called according to your purposes and we KNOW we are called, so we humble ourselves before you now. I pray what my groom prayed this morning that we would walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have given us and that we would be lights in this world, even now in distress, even now as my husband and friend are crushed in that car, help them to praise you that others would be drawn to you. We pray for all involved in the accident, may your will be done….”
Then my groom had to go…his voice disappeared after he said I love you. I got up from my knees feeling surreal, like I was in a nightmare and gazed at my 5 year old son remembering what it was like to be 5 in a similar trial, and what I allowed it to do to me—put me in the bondage of fear. I asked God, “How do I tell him his Daddy is dead?” God’s Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). No kidding. We certainly DID have trouble this day. It was that moment I had a revelation; a deeper understanding of Matthew 6:34. I also understood why it was so important to have God’s Word hidden in my heart, so that “I might not sin against” Him. I understood I was NOT alone because the Helper, God’s Holy Spirit who lives inside me was teaching me during this trial as He does every day. The Holy Spirit was bringing to my remembrance all that Jesus had said. Talk about being on the ‘A’ Team (“Almighty”)—I have God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit with me, IN me…I was going to be OK no matter what happened.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:16
Still, I needed reassurance from God, so I went into my secret place, drew near to His throne of grace again, and had a garden of Gethsemane moment of prayer…Lord if possible, let this cup pass from me, but not my will but Your will be done, help me to die to self and align to Your will.
I have grown in my love for God so intensely within the past year, all the while knowing this love I have is a gift from Him…so that night my biggest concern was no longer losing my husband but losing my love for God; I was afraid I would harden my heart with anger if our Creator chose to take my husband. I asked God to keep my heart soft and to help me say like Job, “You give and take away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.” I prayed and cried out to the Lord telling Him I always need Him but I needed Him more than ever this moment. I knew my Savior Jesus Christ was on the mercy seat at the right hand of God interceding. I told God I trust Him with all my heart and I don’t have understanding to lean on anyway, and I needed Him to provide a straight path, direct my steps, and Light the Way. I asked in the name of Jesus Christ, I asked in faith knowing God heard me. I felt like I understood the surrender Abraham experienced putting his son on the altar…I put my loving beloved groom of 11 years on the altar, giving him to the rightful Owner of all.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
After praying I was no longer anxious and I had an indescribable peace. It was as if I was being lifted…I realize now the burden of fear was lifted. My heart and my mind were guarded in Christ Jesus, nothing coming in, nothing going out. I was able to get up from my knees and listen for the next command to obey.
“…’My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
As God ordered my steps I received His grace for every action…put the children to bed, read them a story and sing them a hymn…nothing changes keep their routine. Kiss them good-bye tell them you will be back. Tell them you love them. Pack a bag for yourself. Pack a bag for my groom too? But why? He’s dead, isn’t he? I began to get weak as I grab my husband’s shirt and smell his scent…I cry. I see a piece of paper with a prayer card I pulled out that afternoon…a love note from my groom when we first moved to ‘sweet home Alabama’ it read:
I weep and groan. I wasn’t anxious…I was sad, but I tell my Creator, my Father, and He already knows. Then I receive God’s grace, remembering my groom understood, just as I do…we are ‘created for God by God’ for His purposes not our own. I would be OK with what would happen because I have hope and faith! Not hope that my husband won’t die, but my hope is in the Lord—Jesus is my all in all! And faith…my faith is in God’s Word. I believe Galatians 2:20 to be true of myself:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
So I receive the grace and take another step in Christ Jesus. I grab my Bible and shove a scripture verse in my pocket without reading…a piece of Bread for later. It was a four hour drive to the hospital. Four hours of worshiping and praising the Lord with my neighbor, now my new kindred friend…united and bonded closer through this trial—just as our grooms were bonding at the crash site. She drives as we both sing “Our God is Greater” and “Lord You are good” a CD of worship music my church choir sings that she just so happened to have in her CD player for such a time as this. It was four hours of praising, praying, sharing, and resting in Him.
“The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
We arrive in the ICU waiting room and meet up with some of the saints God mobilized, saints from our Church…the Body of Christ. Again I tell God I love Him no matter what happens, and I rejoice that my heart is still…quiet…peaceful. Another hour of surgery then I see my groom for the first time since my new knowledge of God and I begin to sing the Scripture song making melody in my heart; a song from a children’s ‘seeds worship’ CD: Zephaniah 3:17. I sing over his broken and bruised body and try to take inventory: four broken ribs, lacerated liver, contusion to the lungs, shattered femur, lacerated knee, dislocated heel bone, broken ankle, and a broken toe…and praise God!
Praise Him, He is mighty to save! First and foremost God is mighty to save us all by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins so we can go to the throne of grace with confidence clothed in the righteousness of Christ even though in the flesh I’m so filthy and I don’t deserve to be so close to God…but still God loves me. God loves you. He loves us so much that He sent His son to die on the cross for our sin, reconciling us to Himself…that He could hear us in our time of need. And He didn’t stop there. Once I believed, He gave me a new heart and Spirit and His Holy Spirit now lives inside me! My body is His temple; His Holy Spirit comforts me and walks me through each moment of my life to include when I’m in distress, reminding me of God’s truth, just as He did that November night! Oh praise Him all creation, praise Him: God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Praise God that He saved us from our sins…but then that He would save my husband and our friend from this horrific car wreck and allow them to stay with us here on earth—I was filled with so much joy and gratitude I thought I would pop! As I sat in the ICU room staring at my beloved groom’s broken body I sang Jeremy Riddle’s “Sweetly Broken” to my Heavenly Father, remembering the first time He drew me to Himself and I was thankful. Then I remembered I had a piece of ‘Bread’ in my pocket….I read it Psalm 50:15 and I burst into tears of gratitude again. I understood. I knew my husband and his friend were saved to honor God—for His name’s sake. That is true of our spiritual salvation and now I saw it to be true of their physical salvation. I prayed both my husband and friend would understand, I prayed they would not be bitter or upset with the other driver or God because of the accident. My husband was silent for a few days but our friend immediately told me the events of that night.
They were driving back from the football game on a two lane road when a Toyota 4-Runner crossed over into their lane and hit their small Honda Civic head-on. The Toyota was on top, crushing them and they grabbed hands and called out to the Lord and prayed….I jumped up and cried with excitement and shared Psalm 50:15 with him, and when my husband began to talk I realized quickly that he understood. He already understood, his life is not his own and to get another chance…wow! The grace, the mercy, the kindness of God—yes for His name’s sake but we get to enjoy the service to Him.
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15
There are so many lessons I learned that night…so many revelations of who My Abba is but this moment, what I want to share is the lesson of grace. I see the ‘something’ I ‘lacked’ was receiving God’s grace! That night I was changed forever because the bondage of fear and anxiety, the fear of losing someone was ‘lifted’…the Truth set me free! For 30 years I had lived in the bondage of fear, and now I do not because one of my ‘worst nightmares’ happened, and I don’t have to ‘wonder’ or put ‘worst case scenarios’ in my mind because now I know personally what will happen: God will give me the grace to get through whatever trials the day reveals from losing a loved one, to raising a newborn. I just need to receive his grace; pray, ask, seek, receive…let my requests be made known to Him, remember Jesus Christ lives in me.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Today when I hear sirens, I am no longer anxious but sometimes my heart still races…I discern what I am called to do—pray. I pray for the person in the trial and for their families, realizing that they are having an encounter with God. I pray they will humble themselves before the Almighty One knowing He gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud. I pray they open their hands and receive the gift of salvation which is given by grace through faith, and if they know Him they will “grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”.
This family photo was taken before we moved to Alabama—10 months before the accident. When I created this photo card my husband and I each chose a verse…I chose: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and my husband chose Lamentations 3:24: “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him”. We were tested in those Scriptures that night, and by His grace and faithfulness, we came “forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.” Lamentations 3:23-24
Do you realize God’s grace and mercies are new each morning, and it’s there for the taking, we just need to ask? I am thankful for God’s Word, for how He loves me and reveals Himself to me and tests me making sure I do not lack a thing…not even grace. What about you? Have you received the gift of salvation that comes by His grace through faith? If you are a Christian are you still receiving His daily grace and are you growing in His grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ? If you are a Christian everyday is game day, every day is a chance to be tested so that we will not lack a thing…so grab the grace and let’s go!
I am praying for all who read this. I pray God continues to draw you to Himself. I pray you have received the gift of salvation by God’s grace through faith and that you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18)
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3