I’m not sure how well you know me, but I am a relatively normal guy. Well, normal isn’t the best word for me, but if we all agreed that I’m a down to earth dude, we’d at least be in the right ballpark. It is after 1AM as I am typing this and we get up at the butt crack of dawn in the King House so I have to cut to the chase. I tell you that as circumstantial evidence that what I am about to tell you is important and I am pretty confident that someone out there needs to hear this.
On November 28th, 2003 I experienced a miracle. Not a cool coincidence. Not a freak occurrence. I experienced a miracle.
I am completely sure of it. Several very normal members of my family witnessed it and doctors at the University of Kentucky were baffled by it for days.
On the evening of November 28th, 2003, my wife and I were in a very serious automobile accident in which I was sent through the windshield face first in a head-on car collision going full speed on an icy interstate. I have talked about it several times on this blog in terms of what I had to overcome, but have been reluctant to share my entire story with the world – in part because I did not want to become known as the Miracle Guy.
Tonight I realized that not sharing this story is a disservice to God. Not only that, I feel in my spirit that someone out there needs to read this story right now.
Visiting our family in Kentucky for the Thanksgiving holidays, my wife and I, after a long day of Christmas shopping, got a bite to eat at Moe’s and were preparing to meet my brother and his wife to go see the movie Mystic River. The roads were covered with black ice that day and Rai and I had actually witnessed a few minor accidents earlier in the afternoon. Being the safe driver that I am, I knew that I would have to be extra careful during the 7 or so mile drive to the movie theater.
Rai and I were SOOOO happy that day. We were scheduled to close on our first home the day we returned to Atlanta and had purchased a bunch of cool items for our new home super early that morning in those crazy, day after Thanksgiving sales. On the way to the movies Rai and I were JAMMING! I mean music cranked all the way up, heads bobbing, full blast JAMMING to the new Byron Cage CD. It had only been out for a little while and we loved it! We were there in Atlanta for the live recording a few months before then and we were Jamming with a capital J to the main song on the disc – “The Presence of the Lord is Here”. In some ways, we were singing it in celebration because we were both keenly aware of how good the Lord had been to us and we had even mentioned our blessings earlier that day.
The instant the song was over, I reached down to hit the button to start the track from the beginning so we could re-do our jam session. As soon as the track began again, I hit a patch of black ice on the interstate and completely lost control of the car.
After doing a complete donut in our lane of the interstate at about 40 MPH, I tried as hard as I could to straighten the car out, but couldn’t do it. Separating one side of the interstate from the other was not a rail, but a very steep ditch. Our car, a black 2002 Mitsubishi Galant, my first new car, sped toward the ditch, and, according to eye witnesses in the police report, our car went deep down into the ditch and then went airborne into oncoming traffic on the other side of the highway. Seeing the headlights of a truck coming toward us, I very clearly remember my wife screaming out,
“I’m going to die!”
Desperately, with what little faculties I had left, I tried to move the car out of the way of the truck that was coming right for us and BOOOOOOM! Some type of bomb went off in the car. The explosion was so violent that I could smell it, taste it, hear it, feel it, but not see it. Something weird had happened to my face in the explosion.
I could catch only a small glimpse of my wife who was moaning in pain and appeared to be about to pass out or die. Within seconds I started to realize that the bomb that went off must have gone off in my face. I started screaming in pain. I could not see and it felt like my face may have been on fire. My mouth was full of glass and I could tell from the way I sounded in my own ears that something terrible had happened to my lips and teeth. Afraid that my wife was dying and pretty confident that I was about to die myself, I screamed as loud as I could for help and did not understand why my wife was not trying to help me. I noticed that the song, “The Presence of the Lord is Here” was still blasting and felt just a slight comfort by its message. The mind is strange, because I remember thinking that having it playing will probably let people know that I wasn’t a drunk driver. That was important to me.
A bomb had not gone off in our car at all, but, instead, our car collided head-on with a truck going full speed on the interstate. Instead of the truck hitting my wife on the passenger side, which we were told would have likely killed her in an instant, we hit the truck head-on and the impact threw me forward and I crashed, face first (not head first or arms first, but nose first) through my windshield and was thrown back into the car after hitting a side railing on the road.
Unable to free myself, I felt like my face had been broken into pieces. I felt skin falling off of my face and both of my legs felt broken. I could not move. Smelling the smoke, I was panicking and screaming in agony like a raving mad man, but did not sound like myself. Something bad had happened. I could not see and I felt and tasted blood everywhere. A man, who unknowingly broke my heart, came next to the car, looked at me, said nothing, and left. He could have gone for help for all I know, but when he left I felt like I had been totally abandoned and was moving much closer to death.
What may have been just a minute, but felt like about an hour passed when a very sweet woman, like an angel without fear, came to the car. I moaned to the woman that I was a young pastor and that the woman with me was my wife. She grabbed my hand and told me very gently that she was a nurse and a Christian and that she was praying that I would live and for me to hold on. Her words were nice, but I began to feel an unspeakably deep sense of depression fall over me. (I never stopped screaming in pain throughout this ordeal.)
Her words confirmed for me that I must be dying and I began to get very sad. I am crying now as I type this because I remember the overwhelming sense of sadness and despair that started to swallow me as I considered all of the unfulfilled dreams and hopes with my wife and our young family. My daughter was not even two years old and I was about to leave her alone in the world. The woman told me that it was urgent that she find a cover to wrap my face up to keep it together. She grabbed a blanket from my back seat and began to gently wrap my face with it. She never left my window until the police and EMT’s got there a few minutes afterwards. The police asked me for emergency contact information and I seemed to have given them my mother’s contact information. Apparently my wife also gave them contact information for her mother and her aunt.
After a team of people yanked the door open to get me out, my grief and sadness began to grow because I could hear and sense the trepidation and fear on behalf of every person that saw me. I was being carted away on a stretcher away from my wife and I had no idea what her condition was. My sadness grew because I kept feeling like I was going to die. I began to imagine places that we wanted to vacation together and all of the things I wished I had told her about my love for her. I had convinced myself that if I could live until I got to the hospital, that everything would be OK.
I heard the EMT’s assess that my left leg was badly broken and that it appeared that every bone in my face had been broken when it went through the windshield. I started to drift in and out of consciousness and heard the EMT’s tell the driver that they “were losing him.” Real life is different than television because it was clear that the EMT’s were very nervous. The driver then started yelling at them that he couldn’t rush or that they’d all end up like “him” (me).
The EMT’s kept lying to me and telling me that we were almost there. It helped me a little. I heard them say that my blood pressure was dropping. Because something had happened to my eyes, I could not see anything, but could hear very well. I heard them charge the paddles and, I kid you not, got so afraid that they were going to use them on me that I think the last adrenaline I had left kicked in. They told me that my injuries were very severe, but to just hold on until we got to the hospital.
I held on and prayed and prayed and prayed that God would just spare my life.
By the time I got to the hospital, my mother, my mother-in-law and many of the members of her small Pentecostal church, my wife’s aunt, and my brother, who was a youth pastor in Indianapolis at the time, had all been notified by staff or called by one another. My mother was told that my legs were broken and that my face was broken into many pieces and that my injuries were life-threatening.
Every person above that I just named began praying for me and for my wife. My brother began praying for healing. My mother began praying that the Lord would save her son. The nurse that comforted me at the scene of the accident had prayed that I would live.
After they got me into the emergency room and began to assess my injuries, I began to feel the Spirit of God in a way that I had never felt before or have never felt since. With doctors and plastic surgeons waiting to perform surgery on my face, I heard them talk about assembling the right hardware and plates that were needed. Knowing that I would not be able to talk once they started operating on my face (while I was awake), I began to beg nurses to write a note on my chest that said,
“I still believe in the Goodness of the Lord”
After begging two nurses to write the note and trying to tell them that I wasn’t crazy, the third nurse wrote the note and placed it on my chest. I asked her to not let anyone remove the note and pointed to it every chance I got. It is on my chest with my blood on it in this photo.
After washing my face and picking out shards of glass from it, they rushed me to have a CATSCAN done on my face and on my legs. The results shocked them and shocked me.
In spite of the fact that my face went through a windshield during a full speed head on-collision with a truck, in spite of the EMT diagnosis that “every bone in my face was broken,” in spite of the phone call made to my mother, in spite of all of that…
NOT ONE SINGLE BONE IN MY FACE WAS BROKEN. NOT ONE. NOT EVEN MY NOSE. NOT ONE BONE IN MY LEGS WERE BROKEN. NOT EVEN A HAIRLINE FRACTURE IN MY FACE OR MY LEGS.
Doctor after doctor and nurse after nurse told me that nearly ever person that goes through a windshield in such a violent head-on car collision dies and every single one of them ends up with scores of broken bones.
In spite of the fact that it took over 300 stitches to put my face back together – including stitching a big part of my bottom lip back on and my left eyelid back on – NOT A SINGLE BONE WAS BROKEN IN MY BODY.
I have thought about this across the years and there is a chance that every nurse and EMT and doctor that examined me and felt on my face and legs and studied me before I had those CATSCAN’s and MRI’s was simply wrong. They all misdiagnosed my condition. That is possible.
But for me, it takes just as much faith to believe this as it does for me to believe that something unexplainable, something strange, something miraculous happened to me that put the bones in my face back together again.
For days while I was recovering in the hospital at the University of Kentucky, doctors would visit me and discuss the strange occurrence of what happened. Medical students came by to examine me because of the peculiar nature of it all. My eyes were swollen shut for several days, but I could hear how peculiar people found my condition. Because my face still looked so horrible, I think people had a hard time actually believing that no bones were broken beneath the wounds.
I am choosing to believe that a miracle happened on that day. I experienced it for myself. If you know much about me, you know that I’m not that religious and I’m certainly not a very spooky dude. Before this happened to me, I probably leaned more to the side of believing that miracles rarely, if ever, happen in the real world. I had prayed for miracles before this incident and saw my prayers go (seemingly) unanswered.
I can’t explain miracles. I can’t predict when they’ll happen. I’m not sure why they happen when they happen. I don’t know why they don’t happen when we often want them to.
But doggone it, they happen and I am convinced that God still wants us to hope and believe that they are possible in every circumstance. Will a miracle happen every time? No. Why? I don’t know. But miracles can happen and my face (scars and all) is living proof!
Now if you don’t mind, I have to jam out to the track, that while nearly killing me, gave me a new lease on life! Wanna join me?