Disaster Redeemed

This is the ninth entry in the UCCDM Lenten Devotional 2016 series.  This devotional reflection comes from Rev. Dr. Tracey Dawson, Senior Pastor of UCC Parker Hilltop in Parker, Colorado.  This devotional reflects the views of the author and not the views of UCCDM.

“I love God, because God listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy. God listened so intently as I laid out my case before God.  What can I give back to God for the blessings God’s poured out on me?  I’ll lift high the cup of salvation-a toast to God! I’ll pray in the name of God; I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do, and I’ll do it together with God’s people.  When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love God.  Oh, God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service!  I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice and pray in the name of God.  I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do, and I’ll do it in company with God’s people, in the place of worship, in God’s house, in Jerusalem, God’s city: Hallelujah!” (Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19)  The Message Bible

There’s no better place to find a convert than in the Critical Care Unit of a hospital, underneath a spider’s web of tubes and monitor wires, slow dripping fluids, a ventilator, and a head strap securing a cranium fractured all to hell.  There I was, in and out of consciousness, six days on the other side of a coma produced by the act of flying through my windshield on I-70 just outside of Denver.  I was 19, I was invincible, and I was nearly dead.

My head felt like it was in a vice grip, held together with superglue and dried blood.  My right leg wouldn’t move, and I could neither speak nor ingest food.  But I could pray, man how I could pray! I had just enough wits about me to, as the Psalmist says, “beg for mercy, lay out my case before God.”  I had just enough coherence to know I was in big trouble, the worst kind, the life-changing kind.  I remember squeezing my eyelids tightly together, attempting to shift the blinding pain out of my head long enough to get a direct line to God.  I promised God everything. I promised God to make something of my life, to use my life for God’s greater purpose.  I knew I was in big medical trouble, but I didn’t know enough to know what was ahead for me, and that was probably a good thing.

As my body began slowly to mend, in patchwork fashion mind you, I did not forget my prayer, but I didn’t think God was healing me either.  I settled for thankfulness.  I was thankful for my nurses and for my family and friends.  I was thankful that my passenger did not hate me.  I was thankful for another chance.  Who would have ever guessed that a mere ten years later I would be a criminal court judge talking from the bench to young drivers about why they should always wear their seat belts?