A reminder of how a family is impacted for generations when chance, tragedy, fear, faith, and prayer come together, as it did that fateful morning now 24 years ago. ◊
That’s a recent picture of my daughter with her husband and three children. This next week marks a time, 24 years ago when she was about the age of her own daughter, that our own little family endured a pivotal experience that is forever etched in our heart, mind and soul.
While enjoying our annual family ski trip to Lake Tahoe, my then 9-year old daughter was struck by a speeding adult skier. Catching up to her after she tumbled 20 yards down the slope, I found Lisa moaning and bleeding from her ear and nose. She was conscious but incoherent.
My wife and I were numb in shock and fear.
While my wife took our younger 6-year old son and followed the ski-patrol taking Lisa down the mountain in a stretcher and then by ambulance to the Truckee Emergency Center, I had to take two ski lifts to find and pick up my older 12-year old son and his friend who were meeting us all for lunch at the lodge.
When I arrived at the Truckee hospital, my daughter was being given a CT scan. The doctor had told my wife that Lisa just suffered a concussion. He offered to conduct a CT scan just to be sure. My wife wisely did not hesitate. Within moments the doctors and nurses rushed about and mobilized to arrange an emergency transport to the larger Reno Hospital Trauma Center. Lisa’s ski collision had resulted in an epidural hematoma (bleeding between the skull and brain) and now time was of the essence.
She needed immediate surgery to release the growing pressure on her brain.
I followed the ambulance for the 45-minute drive to Reno. The Hospital Emergency Room doors burst open upon arrival like an ER episode and my daughter was in surgery for 3 hours. We all waited in a side room and tried to stay calm in the midst of such a shocking occurrence.
Where’s God in This?
In fact, God was everywhere in this. God is not in the business of preventing tragedy, nor necessarily causing it either. Rather He is ever present in the midst of tragedy and events that are accidental, intentional, or by natural causes. He’s given us a saving way out of this fallen world, not a free pass from its consequences.
Yes, tragedy and God came headlong together that morning for our family. Incredible fear and helplessness combined with deep faith and prayer as I recall the emotions that fateful morning. We can look back now in deep gratitude, wonder and awe at all that transpired then and since for a family whose trajectory was forever changed.
I’ll never forget eyeing the brain surgeon walking slowly to our waiting room down that long corridor. Only I could see him coming toward us with the verdict of success or failure of the surgery. I tried unsuccessfully to read his body language and even his stride. Was our daughter even alive? The good news that doctor delivered to us moved me to a renewed commitment to life, family, marriage, God and purpose.
My Eyes Have Seen Much
I saw God respond to me and my anguished-father-prayer as I sat on a ski lift to pick up my son and his friend while praying that somehow word could be spread (pre-cell phones) for others to pray for us. I saw God provide an angel-friend of our family, a devout woman of prayer who just happened to be at that resort for the first time and in a position to spot my wife from afar as Lisa was being loaded into the ambulance at the base of the mountain. She mobilized an immediate prayer-chain involving many people praying for Lisa and our family.
I saw God bring a peace beyond description to me as that father while on that ski lift in prayer acknowledging and surrendering to God and His will as Sovereign while yet petitioning for my daughter’s life. I felt loving assurance undeserved.
I saw God touch my wife, as Lisa’s mother, and bring her to new depths of faith and love and reverence for Scripture and prayer as He led her to become from that point a woman of even further substance and wisdom and capacity for nurturing support and encouragement of others.
I saw God move a 9-year old girl, my daughter Lisa, to become a stalwart of faith and prayer who not only survived but thrived in life and love and wisdom and a deep and abiding faith in her God as Savior.
I saw God impact an average family in ways that were not obvious but nevertheless altered by a brush with tragedy and trauma that thrust us all closer to God. We each have grown significantly since then in ways that reveal God’s patient hand and tremendous blessings for His children.
Last week after a family trip to Lake Tahoe and staying in the vicinity where we stayed 24 years ago, we happened to drive from Truckee to Reno. I realized that I had not traveled that specific route in the 24 years since that harried trip in a car following that rushing ambulance carrying my daughter and wife from the Truckee hospital to the Reno Trauma Center. My mind went back to prayer in awestruck love and thankfulness – for life, for grace, for mercy, for blessings, for family, for children, for grandchildren.
And for a humbled heart, mind, and soul. And that over these 24 years I’m still learning that our lives are not our own but for purposes known to God.
Yes, long ago, in God’s unique and mysterious ways, this very young family of mine experienced an assurance that God is Sovereign and that He loves us and indeed has great plans for us. These plans are beyond our comprehension and are not necessarily aligned with our own planning. All we really know is God as revealed in the Scriptures is good, great, and worth betting an entire lifetime of devotion and submission.
Have you a trust and a faith in God in the midst of difficulties and even tragedy?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6