Thirty-one October 2nd’s have now gone by since the accident that put me in a wheelchair. I cringe whenever I reference it as an “accident” as it was anything but. However, human nature being what it is, we like to classify things in terms we can wrap our heads around. To say my fall from a cliff while 17 other people stood as witnesses was happenstance is a miscarriage of truth. The truth is, God – Jehovah-shammah – was there.
And He was actively involved.
He didn’t enter the scene in the aftermath, like an EMT, but was overseeing and overruling the event as it unfolded. Try and wrap your head around that, why doncha?
Did He, then, shove me off the precipice?
Or did He stand aside and let it happen?
I know how we quantify His ways often by saying God “allows” things but doesn’t cause such things. I’ve said it often myself – and on most levels I believe in His permissive will. But we say it like it’s almost a passive will, that He looks at the evil that comes against us and says, “I wish I could stop you but my hands are tied.”
Okay, okay, yes He chooses to tie His hands as He did when His Son was being tortured and brutalized. That’s not my point. I somehow (somehow?) believe that evil set its design upon me 31 Octobers ago and asked for a warrant from the Judge of the Highest Court to tamper with me. The Almighty said, “Proceed” but did something far greater than step aside and let it happen.
He was there.
I said God was actively involved and I believe this is how: Isaiah the prophet encouraged the people of God with the promise,
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. – Isaiah 43:2-3
He told them the LORD would “uphold them with His right hand” (41:10) and I, personally, have been struck by the words I have long since felt the psalmist wrote just for me:
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. – Psalm 37:23-24
When the Almighty granted permission for my, shall we say, incident, I believe He added the caveat: “devil, you cannot kill him, cause any brain injury or completely sever his spinal cord. You may make My child a paraplegic, but no worse!”
I then believe God dispatched His angel-ministers to make certain His legislations were carried out.
If you interviewed many of the eighteen college friends that were gathered at Fort Bluff in Dayton, Tennessee that night, more than a few would probably say that over all, prior to my headlong jettison from that bluff (a height of barely 20 feet, thank the Lord), the night was memorable for all the right reasons: the mild temps, sunset over the Pocket Wilderness, the perfectly cooked steaks, the meaningful conversation, etc.
And yet…and yet…
Nothing anyone could up to that point put their finger on, but something felt…well…cockeyed.
What we couldn’t see in those hours between arrival, setting up camp, cooking and eating and cleanup, then the ambulance carting me away, was the open hostility in the heavenlies, where angels and demons stood their ground, the enemy determined to kill me and the heavenly beings determined to not let him.
God was anything but passive. Far from giving the devils free reign and making me open game, He was present and presiding and, as my body tumbled over the edge of that old rugged bluff, He did for me what He didn’t (by choice) do for His only begotten Son – intervene. Aren’t you deliriously joyful that there will never, ever be another son or daughter of God’s for which He will never intervene ever again? That He will always be present in our sufferings and afflictions?
They found me waking from unconsciousness with my head perched on a stone, however, the only mark on my head was a gash above my left eye where a scar still remains. My head wasn’t split open, my brain wasn’t damaged. I wasn’t a quadriplegic. My spinal cord wasn’t severed (although the enemy did everything to it just short of). And I wasn’t dead.
Thirty-one October 2nd’s later and I’m very much alive, with a quality and purpose of life I delight in, the Father is glorified in, and the devil despises (which is just fine with me). To His grace and glory, I’ve never come close to cursing God and taking my life. Every day I awaken I’m acutely aware of something I never much paid attention to those 21 years I lived on healthy legs: the strong Hand of God – His right Hand, He says – holding me up, carrying me when I require it, and hastening me on for another go. Every day, every season, every mile…until I am perfect – just like the One who made me.