One year at church camp, my sister decided to beat everyone to the punch, and started spreading two very different stories about what had happened to her big sister. After a few days she had half of the camp believing she had shot me, and the other half convinced that she had hit me with a car. You have to know my sister to see her personality behind this- I love her sense of humor...
It's funny how facts can get discombobulated when a story begins to spread. People heard I was injured by a bear, by a bull, by a fall from a horse; one story even had me falling out of a cabin bunk while reading my Bible! I suppose when people hear "Wyoming" and "ranching accident," their imaginations can get the best of them and run totally amuck. So let me tell you the REAL story...
Have you ever been somewhere that just felt like home? As if you had waited your entire life to be in that place and wanted to remain forever? To me, that place is Wyoming. I dreamed of it long before my first visit as a teen on a family vacation. The mountains, horses, fresh air, and laid back way of life were appealing even then, and continue to inspire me on a daily basis.
When I learned of the opportunity to attend a camp at a ranch in Wyoming, I started saving my money right away. It was well worth it. Those two weeks were an amazing experience for a fifteen year old girl, and I vowed to return at the next possible opportunity. The following year, the camp was opened for a three-week session, and I made my reservations. Little did I know that this trip would be different than the previous adventures, and that it would change my life forever.
On Monday, August 2, 1999, I woke up early to complete my chores before leaving for a backpacking trip in the mountains. I walked down to the corrals, climbed up onto the hay rack, and began pitching feed to the livestock below. As I broke open a bale of hay, a flake fell to the side. I leaned over to grab the piece with my pitchfork and lost my balance. As I began to fall, my last thought was, “Throw the pitchfork.”
The next hours and days are a blur to me. I was taken to the local hospital and stabilized before being airlifted to another facility in Montana. My parents, at home in Indiana, were notified of my accident and began to make arrangements to meet me in Montana. They were told that I had broken my back and that I was experiencing some paralysis. Beyond that, information was sketchy at best. They approved my initial surgery over the phone and were able to arrive at the hospital by Monday evening.
An accident. When my toddler does something wrong, her new favorite excuse is, "It was an accident!" Usually this phrase is used when something happens unintentionally, or in my daughter's case, when one doesn't want the blame for an event. So when I talk about my injury, I refer to it as "my accident." Yes, it was a traumatic, unexpected mishap. It wasn't intended on my part. But God doesn't make accidents. He never moves without a purpose. He doesn't make mistakes.
This truth might make some people bitter; that God intentionally allowed something hurtful to happen to them. I struggled with this way of thought for some time after I was injured. Why would He let this happen? I was a "good" girl and I didn't deserve to be in a wheelchair. But in my darkest hours, I learned something life-changing. God means everything to happen for my good.
At our Wednesday night Bible study this week, our Pastor talked about how, during times of distress, people often quote Romans 8:28. Although this is a popular verse when someone is hurting, it is often used out of context.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
All things work together for good. But what is the good? That I walk again? That I inspire people? That I see my name in the newspaper or my face on television?
The answer can be found by finishing the chapter. It talks about God's love and His salvation to all who believe. Anything that happens in our lives, good or bad, is for the furtherance of the Gospel. And that includes my accident.
And that, to me, makes it all worth it. Yes, I have days when I get tired of this broken body. I have days when my attitude is anything but grateful. I even have days where this truth is not enough for my human, hurting heart. But in the end, I know that I serve a God who loves me, who gave everything for me, and who seeks to use me in ways I could never imagine.
For the good.
For His good.
To bring others to Him.
My accident was no accident.