Saturday, August 28, 2010

Head on Collision with an Oncoming Car

I still remember the first time my friend, Mike Durand (pictured below), told me about his head-on car accident that happened during his morning commute in Idaho. He was still in the early stages of recovery, so it was all still fresh for him. I marveled at the way God protected him through this terrible accident, and I still do today, three years later.

Here's the story as he tells it:

"On December 17, 2007, I was driving my car to work at UPS, just like every other weekday morning. At that time of year I still had at a few hours to wait for the sunrise. A few light snowflakes were falling but the road was clear and the patches of fog weren’t a problem. I was maintaining a good following distance from the car in front of me and traveling around 40 mph, a good 30 mph slower than normal. But I leave early, so the weather was factored in. My 45-minute commute becomes an hour and fifteen minutes in the winter time, and today would be no exception. Usually I fill this time with a few great bible study programs, or when times are tough, like that day I have an open dialogue with God. Oncoming traffic is light, because everyone is traveling to work, so I was surprised to see a very fast moving car sideswipe the car in front of me. It over corrected and nearly went off of the hill, and I thought, ‘I’m going to have to help that person back up the hill’. The car then rebounded off of the snow bank, and without slowing down, swerved directly into my lane again. My last thought was ‘Mike you’re not getting out of this one’.

I woke up twenty to thirty minutes later with my hands still gripping the now bent steering wheel. I saw the deflated airbag with my blood on it and could taste the non-stick agent that they cover it with at the factory. I couldn’t move because the seat that I was still buckled into was slammed against the steering wheel and dash at the moment of impact. My driver side window was out and I notice that it was cold. I could only remember at this time waving at a friend of mine who was manually taking his hubs out of 4-wheel drive about ten minutes drive down the road. I called my still sleeping wife on the phone and left her a message that I was ok and then passed out again.

Sometime later I woke up again for good this time. I had briefly stirred as the 79-year-old lady who hit me was staring at me, and a nurse had come by to inform me that the ambulance was on its way. The friend of mine that I had passed earlier was unsuccessfully trying to get the car door opened and the EMT’s had arrived on the scene and cut me out of the car. The sun was up now and I had been exposed to temps below freezing for 2 ½ hours. That warm blanket from the ambulance really felt good.

I was hospitalized three times in the next 5 ½ months due to internal injuries that eventually led to removing a portion of my small intestine. My left leg was fractured in two places and four ribs were broken. For several months I had some small difficulties with my speech due to the concussion.

While all of this may sound awful it has been an extremely positive experience. Was the thundering voice of God heard, or did I see a guardian angel jump out and absorb the impact of the crash? The answer is no. But God worked on me and my family through this in such a personal way that we have seen His hand everywhere in the details. This accident could have created an extreme hardship for us. We have six children, a mortgage and a car payment and suddenly no income. Since daycare for six children is prohibitive and because UPS provides a decent enough living, my wife, Aimee is able to stay home. And while we are happy, it is generally a payday-to-payday life. No savings and no slush fund for a rainy day. Thanks to God’s work in our lives, we never missed a meal, or a payment throughout the accident recovery period. If it weren’t for a few occasional aches and pains, I would question that the crash happened at all. So complete was my recovery both physically and financially.

In Psalm 139 David declares that God knows his sitting down and standing up, is both behind and in front of him, and if David ascended to heaven or descended to hell, God is there. Truly the presence of God is everywhere and He is that interested and concerned with every detail in your life. Luke 12:27-34 lays out nicely just how concerned for our well being He is. ‘…Seek ye not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be of doubtful mind.’

Thoughtful reviews of the facts have proven the accuracy of these words. Literally every detail was taken care of by His hand. Consider the following: The 79 year old woman who hit me admitted to the police that she had taken pain medication for her back prior to leaving the house to see her doctor 70 miles away. She had been having difficulty keeping on the road and several people had called to report her. The police had been alerted to a speeding car and were traveling toward the scene of the accident before the accident even happened. The first officer on the scene was a family friend and the person behind me was also a family friend. The crash scene was in a low spot without reliable cell phone service, yet I and the people around me had no trouble calling out that morning. I spent nearly three hours in an open car in sub freezing temperatures and have no frostbite or cold weather injuries of any kind.

When the EMT’s arrived and finally got me out of the car they completed an in depth triage. All of my first aid training from the military snapped back into my foggy mind and I am able to accurately articulate my many injuries in spite of a concussion. Normally I am a guy who always forgets to mention something at my checkups.

I prayed before going into surgery that the surgeon’s hands would be God’s hands, and sure enough, once the damage had been repaired, he acts on a feeling and discovers an extra stomach that will likely turn cancerous and removes it. Later at a follow up visit while he was answering my questions about how intestines heal, he stood up and stated, ‘I don’t care what you believe, this (pointing to the picture of my insides) didn’t evolve’. Out of the blue and to my delight I was treated to a lecture on the wonderful design of the human body by a man who is in love with the Designer, thrilled to be doing what God put him here to do!

Anyone who deals with a tort claim is at the mercy of the insurance companies. No one wants to pay until fault has been established, and hospitals don’t want to treat you until they know who is paying. No one wants to pay until all treatment has been completed. Call it a Catch -22, a vicious circle or whatever. It is a grueling experience for the patient. I had to hire an attorney to help me in the fifteen-month fight. In the end, I was able to recoup my lost wages and pay the hospital bills. God did a work in my neighbors and the local community in the mean time and I was able to live through their kindness. As things happened, God provided. Just because I couldn’t make a living did not mean that living stopped. Appliances die, doorknobs still fall off and driveways still need the snow shoveled out of them, regardless of your ability or capability. In every instance, every need was met with a perfect timing that only God can pull off.

Could all of these things be coincidence, some possible harmonic convergence of the ‘Universe’ in my favor? Perhaps I received some special blessing from delivering packages to the house that the Dalai Lama stayed at on his recent visit to Sun Valley. Some might say that my Karma from a past life provided supernaturally. Some might also say that because my belief in a higher power has been conditioned by years of faith that I manifested my own personal power in a time of crisis and without my conscious awareness, creating a set of conditions favorable to me. Certainly all these explanations would fit within the parameters that many of today’s belief systems. But I know better. I was the one trapped in the car and despite my considerable physical strength was helpless to free myself. Even with the aid of my friend (a strong carpenter) I was stuck in that car until the EMT’s cut me out.

Some would ask how I know that it was really God that helped me through all of this. To them I say that you know without a doubt when the hand of God is moving in your life. My earthly father pulled me out of a very tight situation when I was a teenager. My Jeep had slid off of a bridge on muddy road. No matter what I did it only made the Jeep more stuck. When I finally admitted defeat and had my father pull me out, the feeling was very similar. When Dad pulled me out, I felt relief and embarrassment. When my Heavenly Father pulled me out I actually felt joy that only comes though the proximity of His Spirit. Even though I was in pain and cold I knew that I was in His presence, and He is big enough to get you through. So, in both cases I was in a very familiar presence. Just as you know your own Dad, you also know your Heavenly Father.

So why was I involved in a car wreck at all? After all here I am spouting off about God, so I am obviously a Christian right? How come some old woman who liked drinking (in her obituary a year later) and driving fast while stoned on pain meds hit me, a Christian? How in the world did she avoid all of those other cars just to hit mine? Jesus promises that the rain and the wind will come on believer and non-believer alike in Matthew 7:24-27. So, true to His word, a storm came upon my house. My house stood, because it was built upon Him.

I am not special. I am a sinner, and I make mistakes daily. I do, however, have a great relationship with my Creator and trust in His Son for my salvation. While that is what is special about me, it is by no means exclusive. My prayer is that anyone who reads this will act upon what God is offering to everyone through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the price for our sin, and belief on Him is the price of admission to Heaven. If you reach out to Him, the circumstances won’t matter."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

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