I'm in a terrible mood. It's been the kind of week that has me debating between breathing fire and curling up somewhere by myself to have a good cry. Or maybe both. When the big and small things of life, work, stuff start to pile up, it's easy for me to forget what God's done in my life.
I'm one of several authors contributing to a compilation of essays and devotionals that will be released by Vox Dei Publishing in 2016. One of the stories I wrote for that keeps coming to mind. I'm sharing it today because I need the reminder. Some of you know the story, some of my newer readers may not. Either way, I hope it serves as a reminder that God still moves mountains. He's still around and He cares, whatever you're facing, big or small.
Most moments in life melt quietly into the next. Some change everything—you can clearly see the line between life before and life after.
At 6:45 p.m. on March 31, 2011, I was happily showing my husband how responsive my mare, Sassy, had become. Questions about next steps in life had been set aside and the entire family was looking forward to dinner at the new Culvers in town.
At 7 p.m. I was kneeling over the lifeless body of my middle son, begging, “Lord Jesus, bring him back to me.”
The moments in between replayed through my mind every time I closed my eyes for months after. My middle son, who was just seven years old at the time, asked if he could cool Sassy down for me. More like he begged. He’d been bullied that day at school and told me that a horseback ride was the only thing that would make it better. Sassy was in a great mood and had just given me the best ride of her life, so I agreed. Blake had ridden her a hundred times before, so he knew the ropes. The smile on his face as he shimmied through the gate will be forever etched into my memory.
For reasons I will never know, our beloved horse was placid and responsive until, without warning, she spun to the right and bolted. Being bred a working cow horse, she pivoted so quickly and with such a large stride, it knocked Blake loose in the saddle. He held on for a stride before tumbling backwards down the side of the horse.
It happened so quickly he didn’t have time to react or push himself away. He landed in the sand with a thud. About the time I breathed a sigh of relief that he was okay, her rear hoof grazed his forehead. He wasn’t breathing when I fell beside him in the sand. I rolled him over and cleaned the sand out of his mouth. He had no pulse, he was completely lifeless, and CPR got me no response.
I stopped what I was doing, placed a hand on him, and wailed, “Jesus bring my baby back to me.” He sucked in a sharp breath, but his eyes didn’t open. My husband was already on the phone with 9-1-1. My other two sons snapped out of their shock and asked what they could do. I told the oldest to put the horse in her stall and take her tack off so she’d be out of the paramedics’ way when they arrived. I told the youngest to pray.
God bless those boys, they’d just seen the most horrific thing of their lives, but they sprang into action. Sassy had stopped dead in her tracks the instant she’d felt her hoof connect with Blake. She watched from the corner, head hung. Dylan retrieved her and made sure she was okay and out of the way while Christopher fell to his brother’s side, taking his limp hand into his own and praying with all of his six-year-old might.
As I knelt over my son, praying harder than I ever had before, I distinctly remember the moment where I acknowledged, He’s yours God. I’m asking you to give him back to me, but I trust that he’s yours.
The paramedics came and took him to a nearby hospital, and still Blake slept. At the hospital, they told us he would have to be airlifted to the children’s hospital in the city. They gave my youngest son a stuffed puppy to “take care of for them,” and then they let us in to say our goodbyes. Blake’s little jeans and flannel shirt had been cut away. His face was horribly disfigured. And still he slept.
Once Blake was loaded into the helicopter, we followed in our car, praying and crying the entire way. Blake’s smile was seared into my brain and I grieved I’d seen it for the last time. When we arrived, they ushered us past the waiting lines and back to a waiting room. There, the in-flight paramedics sought me out with tears in their eyes to tell me they were sorry; they’d done all they could. Blake was still breathing, but initial scans showed no brain activity. The doctors gave us no hope. Again, we were let in to say goodbye.
But everything in me railed, NO! God did not give him breath again to take it away now. He will be healed. Our pastor was there, our parents were there, my sisters were there, and my best friend showed up to take my other two boys to eat before going home with her. The next few days were, to say the least, surreal.
Once I got it in my head that God was going to heal Blake, I began to fast and pray. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t eat until Blake was awake again. Each time the medical profession told me there was no hope, God gave me a glimmer of hope. Each dire pronouncement was met with improvement on Blake’s part. His brain “woke up” on pictures. He moved a finger on command. He squeezed my hand. All spread out over days and nights of prayer. If I slept, it was sitting straight up beside him, his hand in mine.
And then came the day when they said they were worried about swelling on the brain, that they’d have to operate if he didn’t wake up by the next morning. Unbeknownst to me, one of my sisters called the local Christian radio station to ask for prayer. I found out when the first stranger popped their head in to say they were praying for us. As it turns out, the whole city was praying for us. And that evening, a pair of blue eyes made their appearance.
I can’t imagine how scary that must have been, waking up in the ICU, in pain, with a giant tube down your throat and needles in your arms. By the next morning, though, the tube was taken out and Blake was even able to ask me for vegetables. It was my mother’s birthday, April 5. I remember my mama and I both weeping for joy at the sound of his voice.
Time and again, Blake and God defied all logic. We were told he’d be in the hospital indefinitely. He was released in 10 days. We were told he’d need in-patient rehab, he wound up qualifying for day treatment, so he could come home with us each night. They said it would take years before he healed. Six months later, the doctors admitted he’d been healed for over a month, they’d just had a hard time believing it.
Don’t get me wrong—it was a hard road. Blake worked hard each and every day, fighting and clawing his way back to the child he’d once been. The entire family made sacrifices as things shifted and rearranged to accommodate our new normal. I left my cozy corporate job to be with Blake through rehab, which meant we had to leave our expensive home in the suburbs. We went from middle class to poor with a mountain of medical debt overnight, but none of that really mattered in the face of the miracle God was working right before our eyes.
And, in a way that only God could orchestrate, all of those changes put us on a path we were always meant to be on, one we’d been stumbling around trying to find before the accident. The obvious miracle came the moment God put breath back in my son’s body, but it was followed by countless subtle miracles that will forever shape my life and faith.
Since then, Blake has gone back to being the life of the party. He lives to make others smile, and he’s really good at it. We’ve since moved, and people in his new world don’t know about the accident unless we tell them; there are no outward signs it ever happened. Sure, Blake has challenges to face he didn’t have before, but I think those aren’t so much about an incomplete miracle as reminders lest we forget, as we humans are prone to do.
About a year after the accident, a woman I didn’t know approached me to tell me that she’ds been one of the countless people praying for Blake. She’d just come back from a trip to Jerusalem, where she’d given a Sunday devotional at the tomb of Jesus Christ. The story she told was Blake’s.
Sometimes, we act like God stopped working miracles after the book of Acts. But Jesus told us that if we had even a bit of faith when we asked a mountain to move into the sea, it would be given to us.
What mountains do you need moved today?
If you want to be notified when the compilation is available, sign up for Vox Dei Publishing's monthly newsletter to be notified of new releases.
Rolling hills that had been vibrant green just weeks ago were now muted in tone, as if they were taking a deep breath before bursting into the song of fall.