Focus: Embracing the consequences of failure
John 10:27 (KJV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
I added up how many times I was in church before I left home at the age of seventeen. At a conservative estimate, I know it was more than 5,000 times. There wasn’t a particular day I said in my mind, “I’m going to backslide”—but it happened. Over a nine year period I continued to take a step here and a step there ‘off the track’ until I was far from following in the Master’s footprints. So many times, He tried to get my attention and draw me back.
One of the heavy consequences of choosing to go my own way occurred when I was 21. I had been separated from my first husband for eight months. My morals were sketchy, at best. My career in fashion jewelry was going well. Three months earlier I had bought a Dodge Charger Special Edition—my first new car. The high performance 400 cubic inch engine was built for speed and gave me a feeling of power. I was almost over the walking pneumonia I’d had for a few weeks and was eager to go on a company ‘pay off’ trip a couple hundred miles away for a few days. Naturally, I was glad to get out on the road with my ‘new wheels’.
When the meeting was over, I checked out of the hotel and headed home. I was cruising along the interstate doing the speed limit—which was 70 miles per hour. There was a fair amount of traffic and I was irritated that I wasn’t able to drive any faster. I was making the best of the situation with my car stereo on full blast. One of my favorite songs, ‘Born to be Wild’, was playing on the radio.
All of a sudden, cars were going in all directions. When the car in front of mine suddenly shot out of the lane and disappeared, I was left with no warning at all. Instantly, I was facing the tail lights of a brand new royal blue Mustang. I started to say,“What’s going on?” but I never got to say the word “on.” I left skid marks for only 20 feet. It was estimated that I was going 65 mph when I slammed into the Mustang and the car in front of them. Both had stopped illegally in the passing lane. Four passengers bailed out of the three week old Mustang just before it exploded sending flames high in the sky. The car was totally burned.
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I was wearing a seat belt, but shoulder straps weren’t required at that time, so mine was neatly stowed in its clips over the door on the driver’s side. I never lost consciousness and I didn’t feel the impact of my head hitting the steering wheel. But, in an instant, blood was gushing out of my nose and mouth. It wasn’t until I was out of the car–struggling to stand–that I instinctively put my hands up to my face. In my horror, I began sobbing and shouting, “My nose is broken—it’s gone.” And it was. The place where it had been was completely flat.
A nurse who stopped at the scene helped me over to the median where I laid for close to an hour before an ambulance came. I remember hearing her say that she never stopped at the scene of accidents, but she knew she couldn’t just keep driving when she saw this one. I wondered if I was dying as people stood over me with their hands over their mouths and said, “Oh my God.”
After plastic surgery the next day, the top of my head and face was bandaged. The part of my face still showing—was dark purple and grossly swollen. Ten days later, the bandages were removed and I saw my replacement nose. It was a shocking experience for me. People tried to tell me it looked “fine”, but it wasn’t “me”. My face wouldn’t ever look the same again. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I had never been confident about my ‘looks’ and this experience threw me into an extreme identity crisis. It was easy to get tranquilizers and sleep meds. I took all I could get. I smoked and drank more than before. I was always searching for pictures of how I used to look and obsessed with trying to make ‘this face’ look like ‘that one’. What should have been enough to get me back to God, just drove me further away. It took five more years—and many more hard lessons–before I stopped running.
There is a story told of a shepherd who has a flock of sheep. There is a frisky little lamb who likes to run and play on the outer edge of the flock. She thinks it is fun to venture off away from the rest—even though the shepherd has coaxed her back repeatedly. Because she continues to run away, the shepherd is forced to take steps to help her learn. As a last resort, the shepherd kindly and lovingly breaks one of her legs. Unable to walk until the leg has mended, the shepherd must carry her in his arms where she is reassured by the constant beating of his heart. When she is able to stand again—she will never leave the shepherd’s side.
Declaration: I will find new strength by not taking even one step off the right path. I will learn from the failures of my past and embrace what it took to bring me to where I am.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.