Eight years ago, on a warm and sunny afternoon in upstate New York, my life was dramatically altered. Riding a road bike on a smooth country road seemed safe – even healthy. I was enjoying the day and making great time over the course when I heard a car approaching from behind. Suddenly, the screeching of brakes startled me. Swerving to avoid the anticipated contact, the front wheel of my bicycle veered off the asphalt on to the soft shoulder of the road.
So, the front wheel slowed dramatically, but the rest of the bicycle, including me, did not. What happened next probably looked like an old cartoon, when one rowdy character shoves a stick into the front wheel of a speeding bicycle, sending the rider head over heels. This is exactly what happened to me. Landing on my head in a ditch about 5 feet deep, I severely damaged my third and fourth vertebrae together with my spinal cord. Unaware that I was seriously injured, I instinctively attempted to bounce back up. Nothing doing – I could not move. I was paralyzed from my shoulders down.
Often, I summarize what happened next by saying that on May 25, 2010, I set out on a bicycle ride and returned thirteen and one-half months later riding a motorized wheelchair. My life had radically changed in an instant. I had been strong, energetic and active; I am now disabled and sedentary. (Still stubborn though!)
By God’s grace, I praise the Lord for the activity I now enjoy! Unknown to me, the Lord had made careful preparations to provide for me in these circumstances.
Forty years earlier he had given me a beautiful and loving bride, who would faithfully maintain her wedding vows which included, “… For better or for worse.” Her help to me often approaches the “for worse” category. She is living a different life than we could have ever imagined. What a wonderful gift and amazing person! I thank God for her and regularly, but inadequately attempt to express my appreciation and admiration.
In addition, I have loving children, including their spouses and my grandchildren, who constantly encourage and assist us as they can. We also have extended family and many friends who encourage us through prayer and the support of various kinds. Our church has been a tremendous blessing. God has used them in many ways to provide for our needs. God has provided me a tremendous support group!
On my website and in previous blogs I have written most of the above. I write now to not only highlight God’s provision but to also demonstrate the way in which God works both in the background and in advance for the benefit of his people, especially me.
For instance, in early May 2010, President George W. Bush signed into action a bill which greatly expanded benefits for veterans of the Vietnam era. The legislation included additional and far-ranging benefits for veterans who were catastrophically injured, even if not on active duty. For me, this has meant comprehensive healthcare (except dental), adaptive technology, such as a motorized wheelchair, electric Hoyer lift, etc. I cannot even begin to express how huge a benefit this is. I am certain that there are many others who have benefited from this legislation. From my perspective, however, I am convinced that God had planned this from long ago for my personal benefit. Then, three weeks prior to my injury, he put this part of his plan into action – for my benefit!
Going back to the day of my injury as I lay flat on my back and wondering about the future, God, my heavenly Father, granted me a peace which goes beyond my understanding. I knew he was my refuge and strength, but I did not realize specifically how he was going to meet my needs. Praise God for his committed love, wisdom, and power.
I have two reasons for blogging about this today. First, it is the anniversary of my injury. Notice I did not say accident, for it was not! God had planned this and was active in giving me just what I need. This brings up the second reason. When God works “in the background,” it is often unnoticed and thus, unappreciated. To my way of thinking, these unobserved blessings are also God’s answers to many prayers – long before, up to, during, and after the injury. I have often prayed, “give us this day our daily bread.”
In this series of blogs we have been considering the prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples, often called the Lord’s Prayer. After focusing on the Lord, our heavenly Father, his majestic being and his glorious reputation in the unfolding of his creative plan, we have come to the first personal petition,
Give us this day our daily bread…
Martin Luther, the great sixteenth-century reformer, suggests that we are instructed to ask our Father for his blessing in this physical and temporal life. This would include peace and protection from disorder, a wise ruler, good government, and God’s provision and protection for all his subjects. Luther also includes favorable weather, good harvests, healthy and prosperous families, together with the wisdom to manage and guide them. Finally, he proposes that we request protection from the Destroyer and his angels who would do us harm and mischief in this life.
Good advice. May the Lord encourage us as we petition our heavenly Father to fulfill our needs and wishes. Sometimes when we pray we do not immediately see the answers: we think that God has not heard. More often than we would like to admit, however, God answers, but we fail to recognize his answers. This might be why he encourages us to be thankful people.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7, ESV)