A friend who runs a mission in Mexico drives up to the desert here once each month to teach a Bible study. His website is Grace Thru Faith, or GTF.org, and is a fantastic resource, as he is a fantastic teacher. His mission is run on the principle "Where God guides, God provides" and any money received above operating expenses is given away.
He drove up one Friday with his wife and 4 year old son.
The car hit one of those guiderails that are meant to prevent a car going over the cliff, and we are thanking God it did its job. Aside from their badly needed car being totalled and a myriad of bumps and bruises, they are all ok.
It set me to thinking about how a split second can change your life.
When I was an AB, I never gave a second thought to something like that . It never occurred to me that my life would ever be anything different than what it was, or that my body would one day betray me.
Now, of course, I know better. Those of us with chronic illness know that we cannot put our trust in our bodies, nor take for granted its capabilities. On good days we trust our bodies only slightly - and thank God for a lessening of pain or increased function, or simply the ability to take a deep breath, unhindered. But that take-for-granted "I will feel wonderful tomorrow" attitude will never be ours again.
For most ABs, I would venture to say that it never crosses their minds that something might happen to hinder their existence and cause a paradigm shift in how they functioned in the world - it certainly never did mine!
But my friend's brush with death set me thinking about the One Who holds our breaths in His hands, and knows the precise number we will be able to draw on this earth.
I have had a number of split-second changes in my life that have ended irrevocably my way of life and/or how I perceive it. Looking back, the ones that hurt the most were not the ones that removed me from a profession I loved or changed my physical abilities, but the ones that caused a loss of someone I loved. I would not have survived those losses without Jesus.
He was with me for the last 3 of those losses - the last one caused the loss of my home and my way of life in CA, necessitating a move to the desert, where I now reside. That was the death of my caretaker and also my youngest, dearest brother - for months I felt like I couldn't breathe without him. If not for Jesus and the comfort and healing He provided, I don't know if I would have survived it.
Because out of all the split-second changes I have experienced, the most life-changing of all was when Jesus blasted His way through my arrogance and self-conceived image of "my" god into my life, changing it from black-and-white to living color in an instant, revealing to me the Ancient of Days, the Great I AM.
And trust me, it was probably one of His bigger challenges.
In the end, it is the only one that really matters.
I never, in a million years, could have imagined the path my life has taken, or dreamt of the existence I lead or the places He has walked with me, carried me, comforted me. What an amazing privilege it is to hear the Voice of the Living God speaking to me!
He has carried me through hours of pain, kept me company in endless sleepless nights, taught me to sing in my bed, and when pain raises its unbeatable head He, Who knows better than I ever will what the word "pain" entails, has taught me to worship - and somehow, in some unexplainable way, I am lifted above it. No, not lifted up in a chariot of fire and taken off somewhere - I am still aware it is there - but so is He, and that makes all the difference.
It has been estimated that each cell in the human body transacts over 300,000 chemical tasks per second. I look at my hand and find a wonder of construction and utility. My eyes work - a little worse for wear, but working nonetheless. Ears, legs, knees- even my replaced ones - a brain that perhaps deviates from the path now and then, but functioning still.
I am ashamed to say that, most days, I take these wondrous functions totally for granted, not giving a second thought to the fact that Someone keeps my heart beating, my lungs filling and emptying, and my blood with its assorted elements flowing to their destinations.
So, at least for a day or two (until I fall back into my bad habits again) I am going to try to be aware of this miracle I walk around in, the one that was Hand-formed in my mother's womb.
And I leave you with two simple questions:
How many times did your heart beat today?
How many breaths did you take?
Jesus knows the precise number. And He knows how many remain of those allotted to you.
He holds each one in His hands.