As Bob came to in the darkness, he wondered where he was. There were unfamiliar sounds going on around him, and a distinct disinfectant smell. He realised he was in a bed, but he was sure it wasn’t his own one. He tried to turn over and nothing seemed to be working. Whatever had happened to him? Ah, he remembered now. He had left the local pub at closing time and found his way to his car. He remembered driving towards home and over the bridge that spanned quite a sizeable river on the way, but nothing more after that. Bob had indeed driven over the bridge, but he had failed to see the corner immediately after it, and continued straight ahead up the bank where the car had flipped over. Bob had not been wearing his seat belt and he was thrown out. As a result his spinal cord was badly damaged leaving him a paraplegic. He was in hospital for a long time, and it took him several months before he admitted that his situation was actually his own fault.
First of all he railed against the fact that his seat belt wasn’t on, but he was the one who hadn’t buckled up. It never occurred to him that if he hadn’t been drinking until closing time, he would have been capable of driving safely, so that was another nail in his coffin of blame, as it were. No-one knew when it finally dawned on him that perhaps God was speaking to him through this accident. It wasn‘t that he was a stranger to the things of God. There had been a time when he had made his decision to follow the Lord, and was enthusiastic in his attendance at his small local church. But the older men tended to curb his youthful enthusiasm and he became discouraged. There came a day when he heard some more criticism, and that was it as far as he was concerned. He had had enough, he said. If that was how they felt, then he was finished.
Bob never attended a church service on a regular basis again, and in time, no-one would have recognized him as being a Christian. Years passed by, and his family arrived and grew up. In his time of reflection now in his hospital bed, he remembered different times when he felt that God was perhaps speaking to him. There was that time that he had been feeding hay out to his cattle and carelessly thrown the loose bailing twine into the cab of his ute. As he drove onto the road, he got out to shut the gate behind him, and his feet became tangled in the twine he had thrown in. He fell onto the road and a car came around the corner, nearly catching him before he got up. Bob wondered at the time if the Lord was speaking to him, but he mentally shrugged it off as coincidence, and let the opportunity go by. Then there was another time not long before this, when a visiting evangelist had come to the district. Bob attended one of the meetings, and was strongly moved to respond to the appeal when it was given at the end, but he thought of his drinking mates and what they would say to him. Just the same, he had to hold tightly to his seat with both hands to keep from making the move along the aisle when others were going down to the front. “There’s still plenty of time”, he told himself.
Now he wondered if things would have been different if he had made that move back then. It began to dawn on him that perhaps all this WAS his own fault, and all because he kept shutting the thought of God out of his mind. “Perhaps God IS speaking me” he said to himself, “If I had taken the step when that preacher was asking people to come forward, perhaps none of this would have happened!” How right he was! He wouldn’t have been at the pub this particular night if he had done that! By the time Bob was discharged from the hospital and able to go home, he had confessed his willfulness and disobedience to the Lord and received full forgiveness for it all. Bob was full of joy in his mind and heart now….not for the position he found himself in, but in the fact that now he had made his peace with God once more. He was able to pray again, picking up where he had left off when a young man. But in spite of that, nothing could give back the years he had wasted, and this was a constant regret to him.
He enjoyed the visits he had from other Christians who knew him, and to talk about the things of God was one of his greatest joys. He now spent his days in his wheelchair looking out of the large windows of his living room across the town to the harbour in the distance. He had once served on the local harbour board, and was particularly interested in watching the container ships and tankers moving in and out of the harbour. He lived for a few more years, and told one of his visitors not long before he passed into the Lord’s presence, “You know, I would sooner be like I am now, and able to enjoy these times with the Lord, than to be what I was once, able to walk but still running away from God. It doesn’t pay!”
The Apostle Paul wrote….. In case I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” . Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)