Is this about God? Ah, yes, but this is not a comparison or renunciation of other faiths or non-believers. This is my faith story, one that recounts a Christmas story that I’ve told and retold and always remember this time of year.
I belief in God who is and always shall be. I believe God is absolute (meaning perfect) and divine (meaning not human) and omnipotent (meaning all powerful). I can’t produce God by scientific or logical means. But His presence can be felt. His love can shine through the eyes of others. His power can be known when miracles occur, as they still do today. (An event for which there is no scientific or logical explanation is, by definition, a miracle.)
In the simplest explanation, when I have believed, God’s presence happened to me. As a child, tiring of a morning-long service, I leaned on Grandma and watched her index finger following the words of the hymns. Hearing that God’s love was like her love, I easily accepted because I was always sure that Grandma loved me a lot.
Yet, in my adult life there were times when I didn’t pray, didn’t accept an opportunity to learn about Him, and I wondered how God could really know me and understand my problems.
An author, now deceased, Karleen Koen, wrote an extraordinary novel, Through a Glass Darkly, and an international best-selling sequel, Now Face to Face (Random House, 1995). In both novels, a couple of pages past the copyright and acknowledgements, these scripture verses were written:
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child. I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.”
I Corinthians 13:11-13
Karleen Koen likened the above scripture to her heroine’s moving from the past and facing the present. The understanding of “charity” is love, not romantic love but the love of God, oneself, and benevolence for all mankind.
To me, those verses reminded me that God does know me, now, and He will know me when I die. Perhaps, my challenge is to believe and accept God so that I might know Him.
On December 23, 1965, my husband and I began the drive from Nashville, Tennessee, to Springfield, Illinois, to be back with our families for our first Christmas together. We left after 11:00 p.m. because he attended school at night. We had traveled about two hours when I asked him to roll up the car window. His smoking bothered me, so the car window had been down, off and on.
Some of this story has been repeated many times to me by others because rolling up the window was the last thing I remembered, until I gained consciousness in the emergency room of a hospital in West Frankfort, Illinois.
On that newly finished, dark, empty stretch of highway, we were overcome by exhaust fumes in our old automobile. Asleep at the wheel, my husband’s foot depressed the accelerator as we left the curved road at an underpass. The car became airborne, flipping end over end about nine times. The pressure was so great inside the car that it pushed the rear window out and sent it sliding, all in one piece, down the highway.
A lone semi driver found us. My husband had landed in the back seat. His collapsed lung made his condition deadly. The driver thought he might have run over my leg. Reportedly, he was told that the leg would be smashed if he had. Fortunately, I had been thrown from the car on the first roll and had a compound fracture of one leg.
Under the heat of the emergency room lights, I became aware of the situation to some extent. I couldn’t see. I felt the light. And my voice was praying The Lord’s Prayer. I felt my clothes being separated from my body. A voice cried, “My God! This girl is pregnant!”
In and out of sleep, I wasn’t sure why I had to wait for my broken leg to be set; and I was uncertain of the ache in my low back. Trying to make me comfortable with pillows, my nurse asked that I lay as quietly as I could. I received an injection. And then, we waited.
Today, over 50 years and four children, 10 grandchildren, and one Angel grandson who could only stay seven months, my spouse and I don’t give our old injuries much thought. All our children were born healthy and strong and smart. Our first child, a boy, was more of a risk taker, but he has children of his own, now.
The point of sharing my story is to let you know that if you are lying flat on your back, on the highway, in the middle of the night, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are always in the palm of God’s hand.