[ Trials and Temptations ] Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV) James 1:2-4
Sometimes there are defining moments in one’s life that drastically realign the timeframe of your life’s journey. These moments alter your reality of everything in your life from before this event and after it… and nothing is ever the same. The following is the prerequisite to the event that totally stopped my life’s timeframe, and my heart. My life as I knew it would forever… never … be the same.
I sat in the parking lot of a clothing store sobbing and asking God why one stressful thing after another kept happening in my life in the last two months. The day before on Sunday July 8, 2012, as my husband Mark and I were getting out of the car to go into church at 9:30 a.m. My cell phone rang. It was my daughter, Whitney, calling to tell us she had slid off the road and ran over a sign on her way to taking care of a dog for a friend of mine. She was a little rattled but unharmed. I think she was more concerned over us getting mad at her for wrecking my car All of this happening just after hurting my back at work the first week in May. I had to go to the emergency room in the morning during teaching art and get the school’s assistant principal to watch my class. I went to the emergency room where the medicines they gave me made me feel worse with nausea and vomiting for hours. I wondered which was worst suffering the nausea, or the intense pain I had come into the ER with?
The next day my husband, Mark and I had to put to sleep our elderly Dalmatian dog, Ayala. She was almost completely blind, lost her hearing, and couldn’t get up off the floor anymore to go to the bathroom. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. We had discovered her the day before tangled up in some vines in our flowerbed where she was too weak and blind to get herself out and she had been trapped for hours. We had found her in the hot Louisiana heat of the day. We loved our dear Ayla so much and she had been the best dog ever! We had her for fifteen years since my daughter had just turned six years old. Ayla had been a family member to us and grew up with our kids until they were both in college. This was a long time and a very important chapter in our lives. We hardly had a photo of the kids without our adorable Ayala standing there wanting to be in the picture. It was hard to have both of our kids in out of state colleges in two different states. We didn’t get to see them very often during the year. Our Ayla and our second dog Calvin had become our at home doggie children that helped a little with the loneliness of an empty nest.
The day after this terribly sad loss I went back to work and found out I was being let go from my art teaching job because of budget cuts. Then a few days later I was back in the ER with more health problems. Which was also the same time my husband was out of town moving my daughter Whitney home from college on a weekend. Of course I only have an emergency when the doctor offices are closed, and all alone with no one to take me to the hospital. I tried to make it until my husband, Mark came home from Mississippi with my daughter, Whitney before I went to the hospital. I wondered how I would last until my husband could make it back into town when … I discovered the toilet over flowed in our master bedroom while I was in the other room. I discovered it too late and part of our bedroom and closet carpet was soaked with toilet water. Sure I needed another unplanned expense to deal with after losing my job. Just the other day our air conditioner had stopped working during a typical blazing hot day. We had to put that unplanned bill on a credit card and now had no balance left to charge any other expenses on.
So here I sat two months later in my car with tears rolling down my cheeks and wondering how we were going to pay the bills this Summer until I found a job…. Then all of a sudden, I had a terrible thought that something worse was going to happen… perhaps to our son, Ryan a college student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Thoughts of some terrible impending disaster or harm to my son flashed through my mind. I felt as if something really, really, bad was going to happen to my son but that God had a plan for using this to turn my son’s life around in some cosmic, earth shattering, way … it was Ryan’s dark destiny … but, the Lord would be there through it all. I sat there sobbing and filled with the most awful impending fear and anguish I had ever known. I quickly said a prayer of protection for my son and our family. I felt like my whole family and life was under attack by satan. Spiritual warfare is real whether we want to believe it or not. After saying more prayers I finally felt at peace somewhat and was able to go into the store.
The whole time I was in the store shopping for clothes I had a dark feeling that this was all a waste of time. This was confusing to me and I didn’t know what it meant. I thought maybe I was just overwhelmed with all the stress I had gone through and worries of how I was going to pay our bills. I told myself, “You need to be positive. You need this job. It is going to work out!”
I went to bed that night although I still couldn’t shake off all the negative things that had happened in my life lately. I lay awake for a while worrying and then the Lord did give me peace, and I was able to go to sleep… Only to be woken up at 5:00 am by a phone call. I said “Hello, Hello,” several times but no one answered. I was half asleep and thought it was my mother calling from North Carolina. Sometimes she would call too early and not realized it was an hour earlier there. She would hang up when she realized she had woke me up and would call back later. I went back to bed until the phone rang again at 6:00 am. This time it was a policeman from Woodway, Texas just outside of Waco, where my son was in college at Baylor University. He was telling me the worse news a parent could ever receive …
“Your son has been in a serious accident. It is really bad and he is seriously hurt. Where do you live?… Louisiana?”
“Ryan has been in a car wreck!!”
The police officer continued, “Oh, My … that is a long way away. Well… we are transporting him to Hillcrest Hospital in Waco, TX. How long of drive is that for you? “
I said, “Nine hours.”
There was a long silence on the other end of the line… I was so anguished and confused… The police officer stated, “Well …. your son has extensive injuries and a lot of internal bleeding , a serious head injury, and lots of cuts from glass and the skin has been removed from under one of his arms… he is not responding mentally… and I don’t know if you will make it in time. Let me see if I can get you the number to the hospital.” I nearly stopped breathing at this point…
The police offer continued, “His car was so badly damaged on all sides that we had to get the “jaws of life” to cut the roof off to get him out. It took about forty-five minutes to get him out and loaded into the ambulance. His eyes were open but unresponsive and not following the emergency workers trying to extract him from his vehicle. He is being transported right now to the hospital. “
“Oh my God…. Oh my God!!” I felt disconnected from those words that came out of my mouth. It was as if my mind was trying to separate from my body because this just couldn’t be happening to me. This news couldn’t be real. My head felt like it was spinning as my world spun out of control…this was my worst nightmare … only I was awake.
I ran to the living room yelling at my husband, “Get on the phone!! … Ryan has been in a car wreck!!” I told him that the phone call was the Police in the Waco area telling us that Ryan had been in a terrible car accident.
The police officer continued, “We are transporting him to Hillcrest Baptist Hospital in Waco, Texas. Do you know where this is?”
“No, I have no idea.” He started to try to give us directions and mentioning streets to go down that we were not familiar with.
I said, “Just give us the phone number to the hospital we will figure out the directions on the way.”
When I hung up the phone I couldn’t breathe… news like this takes your breath away. My husband Mark had been in the kitchen starting his breakfast a mundane ordinary morning event. I came running from the bedroom gasping for breath and the ability to speak. Mark stood there with the most confused and painful look on his face as I ran into his arms. Then the reality of this terrible tragedy soaked into our hearts, the deepest part our souls, and our normal mundane early morning life was no more … our lives would never be the same again.
Mark and I were so shocked. We stared into each other’s frightened faces then held on tight for just a moment and then went into a survival mode. Both our minds began to think what were the most important things to do so we could get out of here as soon as possible. We briefly discussed airplane flights. Should we call the airport and see if there are any flights leaving early this morning towards Texas?
We both agreed that driving that long grueling drive would be the only way we could get to our son’s bedside. I was overwhelmed with the heart wrenching tragedy that was our new reality. I had just been woken up with nearly the worst news ever and in a panicked flight or fight stage. But I was determined to not lose it. I had to be strong for Ryan, for Mark, for Whitney. I couldn’t give up. I had to believe that the faith I had grown, and the Holy Spirit that had nurtured me through the years was going to carry me through.
“Thank God he is still alive! There is hope!” I said to my husband.
This was better than the worst news of all I thought, “Your son is gone..deceased… I am sorry there was nothing more we could do”… I tried to force this thought into my mind that exploded with thoughts of grabbing a suitcase but, veered into my daughter, Whitney’s room and awoke her from her peaceful slumber.
“Whitney wake up! Ryan has been in a serious car wreck and they don’t know if he will make it. I just got the phone call from the Texas police department!”
Whitney sprang out of bed and we clutched each other in the pre dawn morning light. Whitney tried to reassured me, “He’ll be alright mom we have to have faith”… tears welled up in her eyes and slowly ran down her angelic face. In mutual sobs I answered, “Yes…Oh my God…How is this happening to our family? Oh Lord, where are you right now?” My adrenalin was pumping through my veins as I screamed at my husband, “Go upstairs to the attic and get a suitcase. The big red one…hurry!”
I was gasping for oxygen as I tore through my closet trying to pick out clothes in a panic. My heart was beating so fast. The hardest thought kept screaming inside my head as I tried to decide what to bring, “You need clothes for a funeral…think black…dressy…how will you look at the funeral?” I screamed in anguish, “No!!!!! He is not going to die. He is still alive!! God please save him! Don’t take him from this world! ” I couldn’t bear to think of Ryan not being in this world anymore. “His life can’t be over!” Screamed in my head!
I somehow managed to throw some clothes and toiletry items into a bag and get dressed for the long drive ahead. The longest and worst drive of our lives on this dark and dreary, rainy day. Whitney was taking a college course over the Summer and had to stay behind to finish it. I came in her room and hugged her one last time. Tears ran down our cheeks as we stood there in the predawn light barely peering through the window in her dark room. We told Whitney, “Goodbye,” and threw our suitcase in the car in the wet morning light of the day. Did it have to be raining on the darkest day of my life? The skies were so dark and gloomy and heaving with rain pouring out of the sky. It was as if the heavens themselves were sharing our grief on the worst day of our lives.
My husband, Mark and I could barely breathe let alone talk when we first got into the car. We were living our worst nightmare ever. Over and over again we stated to each other, “How can this be happening? Why is this happening to our dear son, Ryan? … Why, Why, Why???” I can’t remember much of our anguishing conversation as our car sped along the watery streets leading to the main interstate to leave town. So much heaviness in our hearts that mere words could not describe how we both felt. We did repeat over and over again, “Ryan is going to live! He just has too! God would not bring Ryan this far in life with all he has overcome in his life, to not let him finish college and go on with his life!” Then we prayed constantly, “We place Ryan in your hands Lord, and ask for your healing angels to be there for him now and with us as we travel. Jesus assign your best angels to whisper in the ears of those doctors working on him right now and guide them on how to help and heal Ryan. Please let him not die… Please let him live at least until we can get there.”
We drove on through the pelting rain that prevented us from seeing five feet in front of the car most of the way. It never stopped raining ever! It was the most relentless, dark, torrential rain storm and experience in our life! A huge dark weather front hung out mercilessly over our heads stretching from Louisiana all the way to the middle of the big state of Texas. It was if the heaven above were feeling our grief and crying down from heaven with a heavy heart of sorrow.
I quietly pondered in my heart the most painful request up to the crying heavens above as our car sped along our watery path of despair…. “Lord can you at least let our Son, Ryan still be alive until we can get there? Can we at least see him one more time… allow me to kiss his cheek goodbye before you take him home?”
As we drove Mark and I made the needed phone calls to work and I began calling family members to tell them what happened, and to pray for our safey, and for our son’s life to be spared while the surgeons worked on him. Thoughts of our life without Ryan screamed inside my head. I rebuked them over and over in Jesus’ name and prayed and prayed and… begged God to spare his life and give him a second chance of life. The thoughts of why, why, why?!! raced in my head over and over again.
And then……came the angels giving us signs of hope that they would carry us through the worst days of our lives and also heal our son. I got the first sign they were there when I stepped out of our car at a gas station onto the wet payment… there below me was a white fluffy feather …. a sign that we were not alone on the darkest journey of our life. The angels would indeed carry us on their wings through a journey of stormy days of wondering if our son would live just one more hour… day …. week…. month. We would find feathers of faith left for us to discover during the darkest days of our lives …. and then came hope…. on the wings of angels.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS UNBELIEVABLE TRUE STORY OF FAITH
IN NEW BOOK COMING SOON:
Feathers Of Hope … In The Arms of Angels
By: Brigitte A. Murchison