Like most high-school seniors, I was anxious to be in the real world, making my own decisions. But what to do with so many options, possibilities, and pressures? I toured many university campuses, sat in classes, filled out scholarships before finally, nervous and uncertain, settling on the University of Washington in Seattle. I enrolled in their nursing program, dorming with a friend from high school. Then, a car accident changed everything.
Driving home in the wee hours of the morning, I fell asleep at the wheel. I crossed the center line into the oncoming lane of traffic, rolled my dad’s Toyota pick-up, and landed in a field. I hardly remember the ride to the police station in Deer Park, or the breathalizer test, or the charge of a DUI. Except it was the most terrifying 24-hours of my life. I knew life as I knew it was over. The funny thing is, coming from a small town, everyone in my hometown knew what had happened before I even arrived home again! News travels fast in a small town.
I could’ve killed my two friends in the backseat, or myself be injured or killed. That reality weighed me down deeper and deeper as the days dragged by. Soon my driver’s license was revoked and I realized I was at rock-bottom. I suddenly no longer cared about UW and knew something had to drastically change or my life would NOT turn out the way I wanted it to. There was no getting out of this one, my innocent demeanor couldn’t save me this time!
I was miserable, raging with rebellion, yet knowing God was the only way out of the mess I’d created. Reluctantly I turned to him. In sort of a pitiful and desperate cry for help, I choked out a plea for mercy.
He answered. ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.’ Psalm 119:67, 71.
Everyone’s testimony is somewhere in Psalms. That is mine.
As a stood before the judge, having attended my AA meetings and my lawyer working to reduce my charges, the judge asked me what I thought of what I’d done.
“I realize I could’ve caused serious injury and harm to my friends and I am truly sorry,” I whispered shakily. “I want to go to Alaska and do this Chrisitian discipleship school called Master’s Commission, and turn my life around.”
The judge studied me for a moment, then said stoically, “I will permit you to leave WA state solely to do this program. I believe you’re sincerity in wanting to make better decisions in the future.”
I was stunned! Not what I was expecting! I had an enormous fine, a suspended license, guilt and shame, heartbroken parents, but God was giving me a chance.
The flight to Alaska and subsequent drive to the tiny town of Talkeetna was the longest, most terror-filled trip ever (next to the squadcar ride!). I knew there was no turning back to my old life.
As only the Lord can arrange, his affliction, providence, and grace collided in my life. Getting caught is a good thing. He flung his doors wide open and the future opened up. I never returned to UW, God revealed his purpose for me instead. I had my mind set on the nations!
Maybe you know a recent graduate who is struggling to find their purpose in life. Who is dealing with the ragged, romantic, temptations and traps of the world. Take some time to speak words of faith into their life. Take them out for a walk, and be real. Share your own personal testimony, lessons learned the hard way, and see if maybe they relate. Young people need someone to believe in them, someone to call out the potential and destiny laying within.
I am now free of shame and guilt from my rebellious teenage years, but still humbled and trembling at the grace of God. What if he had not intervened?? Thank you Father for your mercy on our lives!
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