Sister to Sister: Who Hit Whom?

Maybe I shouldn’t have taken that random man on the side of the road to the hospital to see his son who, he languished, “was lying there on his death bed.” Yes, that same man who had just crashed into the back of my husband’s car—the car I was driving—from behind—while I was sitting dead still at a red light. 

That paragraph is pretty mixed up. Mixed up and disoriented is something of how I felt, too,  yesterday, after that red car just plowed into the car I was driving.  I was just sitting there at a red light in Attalla, Alabama, when the screeching of tires directed my glance over to the side rearview mirror just as my body lunged forward and then quickly back again…with force! I got out of that car and realized I had a huge metal hair clip in the back of my head that had been abruptly sandwiched behind my cranium. It was a headache of mammoth proportions. 

I couldn’t see the man in the other car. His airbag was inflated and covering his face. But I soon heard him yell “Someone please take me to the hospital. My son is dying. I have to get to the hospital, now. He’s lying on his deathbed.” He nervously pulled out his cigarettes and paced back and forth up and down the sidewalk, making one call after the other and intermittently begging for a ride to the hospital. But the police had arrived and they informed him that, as the driver of the vehicle, he could, under no circumstances, leave the scene. “Please let me go. My son is dying. Won’t someone please give me a ride?” 

In the meantime, someone WAS trying to give me a ride. It was an ambulance the size of a large fire truck. I’m not sure it wasn’t a fire truck! It was definitely paramedic overkill and I thanked them and signed all the papers refusing the ride to the hospital. All insurance info was put on the reports the officers collected. The wrecker came for the red car.  My sturdier car, though it was a pitiful mess, was still drivable. The incident was over. 

But the man who hit me was still begging for a ride. No one was coming to his aid. All the witnesses had left.  I looked at the police officer and said “You think I should give him a ride?” 

“Well,” she said, “I cannot really tell you what to do about that. Of course you’re free to do that if you want, but you do not have to.” 

“Well, but…” I began. “…you are an officer and you know this area. Do you think this is too risky to do? …I mean…well, If my son was in the hospital dying, I’d want to be there.”

“Well, I would not do it,” the officer replied. “I don’t know this man and your only contact with him is that he hit your car. But again, if your heart is telling you to…”

My heart was telling me to, I guess. But mostly “…whatsoever ye would that men should do to you…” was telling me to. So I said to the man…the big man… “Let me give you a ride to the hospital.”

It wasn’t long before I began to think a little more clearly and realized I might have made a mistake. As we got in the car, he began to speak with family members on speakerphone—loud speakerphone— about the wreck. Family members were using crude language and shouting about his wrecking the car belonging to “Justin, who was dying.” The conversations were unpleasant and I wanted to ask him to hang up, so I could call my husband and tell him about my morning and about my back muscles that were getting tauter and about my neck that was hurting when I turned it.

But then he said it…the sentence I thought I must surely be mishearing. But it was plain as day. He said it to his wife: “This woman who hit me is taking me to the hospital.” 

Seriously??!! I was the woman who “hit HIM”? I know I must have looked at him as if he had three heads, but …SERIOUSLY? 

Since I’d heard this man tell some pretty funny versions, at the site, about how the accident happened, I’d taken precautions to be sure the police knew I was stopped at the light, seatbelt on, and car sitting dead still, when the collision occurred. The police said they had witnesses and they were clear on that. “Whatever he is saying will not fly. We can see what happened here.” 

But still…seriously? He is going to sit right here in my car as I carry him to the hospital and tell his wife that I hit HIM?

To say the least,  it was a long ten miles to the hospital. I was informed about how that his son was in the hospital because he’d been poisoned…daily, for two years. When I asked how that happened, I learned that it was one teaspoon at the time. See, the government of Alabama had refused to allow its children to use the natural medicine, marijuana. They (the government) had supplied the children with bug spray mixed with oregano, instead. The Haitians were bringing it in as part of an ISIS mission and the local government was inviting them (the Haitians) in to work at the Goodyear plant, so they could annihilate the teen population. Emma Sansom and George Washington Carver were the good guys and they were under the ground because the respectable people get no honor in Alabama.  All of this man’s ancestors were decorated military intelligence officers and so was he…only he was now retired. He made me understand that I needed to do some research about the Jade Helm maneuvers and I’d be able to share the information with some other people. In fact, that’s why God had let him hit me today…so that I could learn this important information from him and share it and more people could escape from Alabama, understanding that even the police were welcoming ISIS. Four people on Sand Mountain had already died in the last two months from the poison and his son was probably next. It’s simply an ISIS induced community addiction. But his son would be okay, in the end, because his name had already been written in the family Bible. “I already wrote his name in the book and that’s all that matters.”

Of course, along about this time, I was agreeing with just about everything he said and praying I could put him safely out at the hospital. I’ve rarely been so excited to get to the door of an emergency room. Somehow I felt like this could be more of an emergency, by the time I got there, than my kidney stones had been last time I went the ER! (…And why couldn’t  just a regular, normal person plow into the back of my car?) Sometimes I’d like to be part of events that you could make up, if you were creative. But not this stuff.

I finally did get to call my husband who was in another state preaching yesterday. I got his voicemail and just asked him to call when he had a moment. A moment. That must have been exactly what he had when my phone rang. I could hear congregational singing in the background.

“Hello dear, you ok? I just have a second before I have to get back up to preach.” (Not even a moment…just a second is all I get?)

“Yes. I’m fine. But it’s your car. I got rear-ended.”

“Oh no! But you’re ok? You’re sure?”

“Yes. I’m sore, but ok.”

“And the other driver?”

“He’s okay, too.” 

“I’m so sorry. I love you. Gotta go. Bye!”

Apparently that was the “song-before-the-lesson” that I was hearing. 

Sometimes reality is hard to believe. I do not know if this man’s son was actually inside that ER or not. I do not know, if he was there, whether or not the substance being abused was really bug spray and oregano. I have a pretty good idea that ISIS, although having a presence in our country today, does not have one through Haitians at Goodyear in Attalla, Alabama who are part of Jade Helm maneuvers. I’m pretty sure the part about being a retired military criminal investigator wasn’t spot-on either. And I’m positive the part about the security-of-salvation- because-the-name-is-in-the-Bible isn’t. 

But it got me thinking about the way we view the ones who are our helpers. There I was providing the much-needed transportation for that man who had given me the biggest hit I’d ever taken. I was taking him where he needed to go. I was being quiet so that he could talk to his family. I was praying for him. I was trying to make a way for him to go on with his day rather than standing there alone on that busy street corner. My back was bruised and hurting because of the hit while I was listening to him argue with his family.  And then he said, “This woman, who hit me….” That, at least for a few secconds, made my blood boil. It did not feel good. At all.

Later on in the day, I was talking to someone with whom I’ve been trying to work through some problems that she’s been facing; problems she’s encountered largely because she walked away from God. She was disappointed in how one of her requests was answered. She said this: “OK. God has let me down…again.” She, at least momentarily, forgot. She forgot God was the One Who had picked her up. She forgot He was the One who had been quiet on the cross, so she could walk and talk and live in Him. She forgot that He was the One who was transporting her to heaven for eternity. She forgot he was bruised for her iniquities. She just forgot that she had been found in a place with no hope and that He had given her a chance to go on with her life, rejoicing here and through eternity. She forgot that while she was yet a sinner, Christ died for her (Heb. 5:8). 

Now, in no real or substantial way would I ever compare that little incident in Attalla with the mercy of God and our plight without Him. When she said that, I simply answered. “God did not do this. People are the ones who mess up.” I did, though, think about how I felt when that man said that I had hit him and I wondered how God must feel when we blame Him when things go wrong. We say “He hit me.” The One who brought us from hopelessness, submitting himself to unbelievable suffering and bruising for our iniquities (Is. 53:5). Why, we must seem to God as spiritually crazy and distorted as that poor man in the car with me, when/if we ever begin to blame Him when things go wrong. He’s taking us where we need to go in a far bigger sense than we can even perceive, and all of that, after we bruised Him in a bigger way than we can fathom! And He, unlike me in the imperfect analogy, chose to take the eternal hit!

May we remember the very real and eternal wreck and ruin from which we are able to walk away—from which we are transported— when we may ever think of assigning the blame for pain and sorrow to God. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation (Heb. 2:3)?!

Sister to Sister: You Can See 44 Quadrillion Miles!

(Note: Some have asked about details for the Digging Deep Israel tour.  We’ve hit a glitch in scheduling, but hopefully we will have those details in a couple of days. We’re thankful for patient friends.)

Sometimes the well is just about dry. I can’t  write a blog post because sleep deprivation has stolen what little mental capacity I had in the first place. Putting together a thought is challenging, much less transferring to the written word.  I know there are many of you who have had challenging seasons of life  and you are there with me. Well, maybe not as mentally depleted, but YOU started with a greater mental capacity BEFORE the drain. (Don’t get me wrong…I love the drain because it means I get to spend time with my father, who is 94 years old. The challenge is a privilege in the lives of my dad’s children. It’s a blessing, albeit a very depleting one.)

Allen Webster, at the Jacksonville church of Christ in Jacksonville, Alabama, yesterday, reminded us that we can see further in the darkness than we can in the daylight hours. (You can watch those lessons here and I’d recommend them: http://jvillecoc.com/sermons.) We can see the sun in the daytime, of course, and that sun is about 93 million miles away. It’s pretty impressive how far we can see when we’re looking for light. But, oh, at night!…When we are in the darkness and looking for light, we can see stars that are 7500 light years away. The star Eta Carinae is over 44,000,000,000,000,000 miles away and we can see it with the naked eye! Can you marvel with me at how much farther we can see in the darkness than we can in the daylight? 

When we look for the light that is Jesus Christ, we can often see Him better in the dark times of life. When we are looking for heaven’s hope, we see it perfunctorily in sickness, sorrow, loneliness or death. When things are going our way…when living the Christian life seems pretty easy…when we’ve “got this”, sometimes we stop looking so hard for His Will and for heaven. We pray more in the darkness. We praise more in the darkness. We study more in the darkness and we see the needs of those around us more when we experience need ourselves. 

One more thing about challenging times: This week I received some very vitriolic messages from a friend who just can’t stand this blog or the things I write and teach. I mean she really hates them. Perhaps she is right in some of her judgments. But the point I want to make is not about who is right. The exchange just got me thinking…this: 

We should all be careful about the tone with which we approach each other with criticism or confrontation. I, Cindy Colley, should be always careful about HOW I say the things I say, especially when they are things with which many will vehemently disagree. You never know exactly what kind of day or week your adversary may have had. You may be unaware of personal challenges she may be encountering. She could be in the darkness, looking for light at the end of her tunnel. While we may be forced to express oppositional views, let’s give each other grace. Let’s put words and actions on the parts of those with whom we disagree in the best possible light, even assuming their paths may be difficult at the moment. I may be able to  help someone to heaven without blurting out that she is headed for hell at the get-go. I can help someone have a cool head, but not if I’m biting off said head. I can help someone know truth, but not if I know-it-ALL. There’s righteous judgment to be made, of course, and I must be discerning. But putting myself in the shoes, for a moment, of the one I’m addressing, will help me speak with the tone that will be most likely to truly help toward heaven. In short, I must WANT to sit down beside her around the throne and every communication must be toward that eternal end. 

A Much Needed Recovery Operation

I could add little to the many reports and testimonials you’ve heard about the devastation brought by last week’s storms in and around my home state of Alabama. Suffice it to say, that, after praising and thanking my God for my family’s safety, I looked around and learned a lot of needed lessons about priorities, power, and peace. It’s in the calm after the storm that introspective contemplation results in spiritual resolve.

The very best of healing for the hearts of my family in Christ at West Huntsville happened last Sunday morning. After praying for this family for 3 days of very limited contact with each other, we came together, as we always do, on Sunday morning. It wasn’t just like all the other Sundays. We didn’t get hot showers before we came and whatever we had eaten for the past three days had been cooked over an open fire. Some of us smelled like charcoal smoke and, for the first time ever, the preacher wasn’t wearing a dress coat. It was hot and there was no air conditioning. We met in the foyer instead of the auditorium where we could see one another’s faces clearly as we worshipped in the light that streamed in through the glass entry wall. Chairs were packed in the large foyer and the two huge stairways and an upper walkway were packed with people, too. Though over half of us were missing, because many had evacuated or gone to places with electrical power, it was still a big family.

And family was just the feeling we had in that room as we sang praises to our father and remembered out older Brother around that makeshift communion table. Before and after the service we hugged each other and shared our thankfulness for mutual safety. Those hugs were extra tight and there was great comfort in them. I realized as I sat there on a high stair beside four of my favorite five and six-year olds, who were all about flashlights and generators and creeks that had turned into rivers, that this fellowship and worship was really what I had needed most. The tension of the chaos and real-life drama of the past few days just seemed to lift with the echoing praises and then ascend to the throne on the wings of prayers led by faithful men. We sang about being true and faithful and trusting Him. We sang about going to a bright and blessed place on a day of rejoicing. We sang about how, in spite of the wreckage all around in our temporal worlds, that all is still well with our souls.  I have never seen a body of people more prostrate in spirit before His throne as we reckoned in our souls with His power and faithfulness to provide for us, His children. I knew that at the table with my family, I would find the first real calm after the storm…and I was right.  It was a time of reassurance and renewal.

We’ve been so blessed. It is our West Huntsville family that gets to carry the food and gift cards and chain saws and assistance to others whose lives have been damaged beyond full repair this side of heaven. It’s members of our family who’ve attended funerals of neighbors and friends, rather than those whose funerals have been conducted. We can praise Him with the prophet:

For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat (Isaiah 25:4).

 

All Pain…No Gain: Lessons from the Kidney Stone

Just how personal is too personal for a blog? I don’t know. It seems to me a blog is a little more informal than, say…my chapter in a lectureship book or even my column in the bulletin for the ladies of the church. And this space is designed for women, so I think we can touch on some things that might not be discussed in a Bible class. So, if this is TMI, perhaps I could beg license just this once.

I really didn’t feel great on this particular day, even when I left the house. My husband, Glenn, was somewhere in South America and, as I am prone to do, I had let the pantry get very empty and going to the store was becoming less optional. So there I was in Wal-mart around noon that Tuesday when it really hit me with a compelling vigor. It was a sharp pain that was both abdominal and muscular. It felt so much like labor–that hard kind of back labor– that I had experienced once in my life, when Hannah was born. Well, this time there would be no baby. That’s for sure. “Well, maybe,” I thought, “this is just the kind of pain I am going to have now that I am pre-menopausal. Whatever this is, I do not like it.” But I had made the dreaded trip to the store and I was determined to get every item on the list since this was not actual labor and there would be no embarrassing water breaking or ambulance trip. I could do this.

Thirty minutes or so passed and I had changed my mind. I could not do this. I wasn’t sure I could complete the check-out process, much less drive home. Somehow I did, though. I remember telling myself, if I could make it to the bed, take some Tylenol, and maybe even sleep a while, I would wake up and maybe this Gargantuan pain would be gone. I remember praying that the pain would stop. I went to bed for five hours. Bad proceeded to worse. I began to feel sick at my stomach and lost everything that was in my digestive system. Dehydration soon resulted. I took Tylenol and lost that, too. I took turns between writhing in my bed and walking to the bathroom for further dehydration. As I walked back and forth, I could no longer straighten my body.

Thankfully, my son, Caleb, was home from USC on spring break. I am just so thankful for this blessing of Providence. I called to him and, after a short discussion, he decided he would take me to the ER. There was no thought of even getting dressed. I went in my pajamas. As I went to the car, I thought, “This feels a little worse than when I went to the ER and brought home this baby who is now driving me there.” Well, this time, though, there would be no baby…just the pain. And the trip…well, let’s suffice it to say that there was a red light or two when we didn’t get to go when it turned green. I would be leaning out the open door, further dehydrating and turning green right along with the light. I remember the orderly who met us at the drop-off point at the ER. She said, “Honey, I think I’m going to get you a wheel chair.” She got me a little pan, too, and I did not even realize until much later that I was likely the object of pity to the 2456378 (it was a lot) people who were in line in front of me. They mostly had sore throats or sprained ankles and were laughing and talking, reading the newspaper and playing games on their cell phones. I protested in my brain that these social ER visitors were being called to the back, where the IVs with pain meds were located. But my body could not protest.

It was approximately 1:00 am when the verdict finally came in. I had signed the paperwork and given them my credit card. I was paying through the nose for this ordeal (just like when my kids were born). I’d had blood work and x rays and an IV (just like when my kids were born). But there would be no baby. At last, the pain subsided (just like when my kids were born). But it had been 16 hours of pain and travail (two to three times longer than either childbirth labor I’d endured). This time, I had no baby to show for all those hours of pain. All I had to show for them was a kidney stone. To cap the stack, the ordeal wasn’t over. Four weeks later I would return to the hospital to have surgery for its removal.

Later, I thought a lot about what my Lord said about the pain of childbirth:

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you (Jn. 16:21,22).

When the product of pain is something so wonderful as new life, the pain is quickly forgotten. Have you ever thought about the fact that, as Christians, our sorrows and pain have new life at the end? There will come a time, at the end of all the trials we face in this life, when we will see Him and rejoice.

I love the book of First Peter, the epistle of suffering. It details for the people of God all of the rewards and benefits of suffering. Notice some of these blessings at the end of trials suffered because of our faith. But remember the blessings are only for His children.

Suffering:
1. produces praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Christ (1:7).
2. makes us acceptable to God (2:20).
3. makes us happy (3:14).
4. makes us more like Christ (3:17,18).
5. signifies that we have stopped living in sin (4:1, 2).
6. allows us to be partakers with Christ (4:13).
7. shows that the spirit of glory and of God rests on us (4:14).
8. gives us opportunity to glorify God (4:16).
9. solidifies our commitment (4:19).

See, people who are without the Lord have pain, too. They get sick. They lose loved ones. They lose jobs and are involved in accidents. But, in the midst of their pain, there is no longing for heaven that grows in the trial. There is no deepening dependence on God and prayer. There is no growth of faith or intensifying sense of urgency about evangelism. There is no positive spiritual effect on those about them who are witnessing their attitudes about suffering. But for the suffering child of God, there’s all this, now, and then a new life at the end. I think it will be easy, just as Christ said, to forget about the pain when I am enjoying a new life in heaven with him.

But what of those who don’t get the new life in heaven? It’s kind of like they are at the hospital. They are having all the pain of childbirth. They are paying through the nose. They are suffering through the process. But, in the end, there is no new life. All they get is a kidney stone.

I’ll take John 16:22. Hear it again:

And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.