I have always loved a good adventure. As a kid I was good for every crazy idea; I would try any jump; climb any tree and visit every ER. I love to kayak, hike and enjoy each moment of life. As a young man I taught rock-climbing, worked as a river guide (I meet my wife Kim on the river) I traveled to many different states to hike, climb, ski and white water raft. I worked in the Grand Canyon on a mission trip. As well, I have traveled to Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina to serve the Lord.
However, the greatest adventure that I have every experienced was chosen for me. It was an adventure into the darkest reaches of pain. The painful journey began on a beautiful Saturday morning, I had just completed an outdoor wedding rehearsal at Crystal Mountain Ski Hill. I had ridden my big old motorcycle to the sunny rehearsal. I wanted to enjoy the pure trill of riding my Gold-wing home across beautiful Northern Michigan after the wedding rehearsal.
I never made it a mile, when a young gal ran a stop sign in front of me. I T-boned the small car at full speed on my motorcycle. I flew off my bike and onto the car. Suddenly I was near death and pain became my life long companion. I was rushed to ER and then into emergency surgery. I had many broken bones; three and half months in a hospital bed; a whole year of P.T. and O.T. and a whole lot of endless supply of pain.
Pain has a way of speaking a negative message into every thing that is happening in life. I fought the many demons of pain in the battlefield of my suffering mind. The warfare of pain is another story. Today I want to declare that I am thankful for all my pain and that suffering is a gift from the hand of God.
There are many lessons that pain has given me, a spirit of dependence on God; a thankfulness for life; a enjoyment of the moment; priority; a spirit of living forgiveness in the moment; a desire to never delay a prayer request; I will never delay enjoying my family; I will laugh now; I will always count my blessings; I will always be ready to tell someone “I Love You; I must kiss my wife often; live out my gifts and never worry about my weaknesses; enjoy every little blessing; and many other gifts.
Two big gifts; first the girl who caused my accident is a gift! She was raised in foster care from age eight and was 19 at the time of the accident. She was having a rough day and was driving home to talk with her foster mom about her troubles when she blew that stop sign. Suddenly her awful day became much worst. She received no injuries from the accident but the emotional pain was over-whelming. I was the next sorrow and grief that she had to carry.
A miracle happened when she began attending a church in Traverse City and starting going to a home study led by one of my friends. He had no idea about the connection between the broken girl in his small group and his broken pastor friend. She accepted Christ and my friend and his wife began helping her grow in her new faith. I continued to work through many painful hours of recovery, totally unaware that the girl that accidentally caused this pain was my sister in the Lord. My friend was asked by my new sister a surprise question, she said, “that she had caused an accident and wanted to talk with Pastor Tim Manzer, did he know Tim?”
I received a phone call from my friend asking for a private meeting with me. I could not imagine “Why?” I was shocked to hear his amazing story of salvation and his request for a meeting between the two of us. Now the burden of reconciliation and forgiveness rested upon my soul. We met about a year and a ½ after the accident. My wife and I felt a deep love and passion for her. We still talk from time to time. Her story of foster care, childhood rejection and salvation is a gem of grace. One delightful January day I was honored to be the pastor at her wedding. I rejoice over every card or call I get from my friend.
The second gift was one of my orthopedic doctors. I needed many surgeries and a total of four orthopedic surgeons worked on me. One of them was a struggling Christian doctor. He was addicted and his marriage was in trouble. He prayed during the first five hours of my emergency surgery that as he helped this young pastor be put back together that someday that the pastor would help him be put back together. Later, my doctor was kicked out of his home and felt the dark pain of his addiction and angry behavior. The surgeon humbled himself and reached out for help to one of his broken patients. A reversal of care giving accrued. The patient became the tool for healing. He began attending Christ-centered recovery groups, seeking Christian counsel, praying for both reconciliation in his marriage and recovery in his life. I meet weekly with my doctor for prayer and counsel. It is a joy to know that he has over a year of recovery and he is reconciled to his beautiful wife and living a godly life as a father before his young boys.
Pain has visited my life but it has been loaded with rewards. Suffering has been a pathway to joy in my life.
A wonderful, encouraging story revealing the truth about pain: God does miraculous things with it. I've only just read this, but I don't think I'll ever forget your story. Definitely memorable. Thanks for sharing.