Two weeks ago, I was on my way to the PCA Director of Women’s Ministry gathering in Atlanta. I was looking forward to a sweet time of fellowship and encouragement with other women who serve on church staffs around the country.
About thirty minutes into my journey, I suddenly lost control of the car. Most likely, something came apart in my front wheel, detaching it from the axel. On my right an 18-wheeler loomed, to my left, the guardrail. Thankfully, the car veered left, careening into the guardrail at somewhere around 70 mph. My car proceeded to spin a 360 with such force that the water bottle in my consul spun through the air, completely stripped of its plastic casing. I came to a stop in the middle of the fast lane, bracing for the impact of another car.
It never came.
As I sat stunned in the front seat, I tried to move my car forward. I had no idea that both my front wheels were detached and going in opposite directions. Slowly, I opened the crushed left door and squeezed out of the car. Two men greeted me asking, “Are you OK?”
Taking stock of my self, I only felt a bit of pain in my left knee (something must have hit it during the crash) and complete amazement that I was alive. A lady who stopped to help, looked at me and said, “I saw the whole thing happen and I didn’t think anyone was getting out of that car.” Tears of gratitude welled and I replied, “I thought the exact same thing.” In the midst of an accident that took only seconds, it’s amazing how many thoughts you can think. The main one I thought was, “This is it. I am going to die.”
My husband came, picking me up from the ambulance where they ran some tests. I felt OK and went home, a bit shaky, but amazed to be leaving that scene without a scratch.
For the next day and a half, I explained away my exhaustion and headaches as part of the shock from the crash. I felt sore, but that was to be expected. Thankful to be OK, I pushed through, getting back to work as normal.
Soon all my soreness dissipated, but the headaches and foggy brain remained. A visit to the doctor confirmed what I feared. The high-speed impact left me with a concussion. It took me days to even consider this possibility because I hadn’t hit my head. However, the brain can move at a different rate than the skull. Evidently, my concussion happened as my brain took a swirl, impacting against my skull.
Still I attempted to push through, trying my usual efforts of mind over matter. However, everyday duties leave me exhausted. Grocery store trips, chats with friends, attempts at writing, and even watching TV cause headaches. Bright lights hurt my eyes and it’s often difficult to focus.
The doctors have told me my brain needs rest. As I have processed this unwanted outcome (knowing that it is much better than it could have been), I have found myself vacillating between extreme thankfulness and tear-filled frustration. My mind is full of thoughts, and I struggle to express them. Writing this article is both a release and a painful fight, leaving my head aching.
I realize that I have, as Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “run aground.” She explained this concept so eloquently, that I thought I’d share her words.
Have you ever put heart and soul into something, prayed over it, worked at it with a good heart because you believed it to be what God wanted, and finally seen it “run aground”?
The story of Paul’s voyage as a prisoner across the Adriatic Sea tells how an angel stood beside him and told him not to be afraid (in spite of winds of hurricane force), for God would spare his life and the lives of all with him on board ship. Paul cheered his guards and fellow passengers with that word, but added, “Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island” (Acts 27:26, NIV).
It would seem that the God who promises to spare all hands might have “done the job right,” saved the ship as well, and spared them the ignominy of having to make it to land on the flotsam and jetsam that was left. The fact is He did not, nor does He always spare us.
Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.
“Running aground,” then, is not the end of the world. But it helps to make the world a bit less appealing. It may even be God’s answer to “Lead us not into temptation”–the temptation complacently to settle for visible things. – from Keep a Quiet Heart
I feel a bit like Paul, shipwrecked on an island of thoughts, with an inability to get anywhere with them. I feel the rescue, but also the brokenness of running aground. So, for the next few weeks, it may be a little more quiet here. I’ve got a few articles already written that I’ll eventually post. Primarily, my brain will be resting. I hope this fog will clear soon. I welcome your prayers for speedy healing, but also for a heart that rejoices in the midst of a muddled brain. I know the discipline of rest and recovery will be difficult for me.
In the meantime, I find myself living the paradox: thankful for the journey, but longing all the more for Home. I think that’s a good place to be.