By: Tonya Stevenson
Families pass things down, good and bad. One of the genetic defects of our family was riding rough stock. Mom handed that off to all her children, including us four girls. Injuries come with the territory. One stands out to me, as most painful.
I was eighteen. It was the first rodeo of the season in Vian, OK. I rode my bareback horse and baled off on the pickup man. Unbeknownst to me, his paint horse was green. He blew up! I was caught between two bucking horses. When the dust cleared I was sitting on the arena floor with my left leg in front of me, my right leg cocked at an abnormal angle behind me. I looked down thinking, “Uno, this is not good.” It was totally numb until old Jane reached me. She grabs my right leg, attempting to drag it around to the front. So much for numb, the bones sickeningly ground against each other and I screamed.
We were raised from pip squeaks to, “Get up and get out of the arena, no grandstanding, plenty of time to die behind the chutes.” So I am begging, “Please, get me out of the arena.” They carry me out. I’m biting my lip, grinding my teeth, trying to silence screams escaping. It felt like my leg was tearing off with every move. The ambulance drove into the indoor arena and insisted they bring me back out to it.
My leg lay beside my head on the gurney. I’m thinking it can’t hurt any worse, then railroad tracks and In Salisaw they transfer me from one gurney to the next, switching sheets and pillow only for the doctor to walk in and say, “We can’t deal with this here, send her to Fort Smith.” So we switch again.
I lay in the emergency room in Fort Smith in silent agony with only one thought, “Hit me, anything just stop the pain!” Somewhere someone is screaming continually. I ask the nurse, “Someone must be hurt real bad?”
“No. Just on drugs.” She replied.
Finally a nurse comes to take me to surgery. She wrenched my knee toward my ear trying to get the side of the gurney up. Again my pride couldn’t silence the traitor scream. Finally they put me out.
Next morning, I wake up strapped in traction with my hip back in place. Sure, I was sore and I had some healing to do, but the excruciating pain was now just a memory.
Life is a rough ride in sin’s broken world, full of strife, turmoil, heartbreak, hatred, murder, and pain far worse than physical. Matt.24:12 warns, “Because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold.” If we truly love, we are more vulnerable and I am tempted to draw back, protect myself. God calls us to love fervently above all else. Further he tells us if we do everything… speak out, prophecy, have all knowledge, give all our wealth, or our bodies to be burned, it is worth nothing if we do not love. God is love. If we turn away from love we turn away from God, away from very life.
All that is good in our broken world is God pouring out Himself to us in grace. The bad originates from sin, but if we will trust God in it, he will work even the bad for our good. Everything should drive us to God. He is our living water, our breath and bread of life, our eternal life, light, liberty. He’s the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep and intercedes for us and leads us through this perilous world. He is God of all comfort, Father of Mercies, our Abba Father, to whom we must turn even in discipline.
As a Christian I have found no greater pain than to be out of joint with God. He is the only source of all good, our sole hope. In Him alone is there fullness of Joy. The only peace on this earth is Christ in us, the peace that passes understanding.
God never leaves nor forsakes us. So if we are not right with God, it was we ourselves who put us there.
To turn away from God is Hell. People ask, how could a loving God send an unbeliever to Hell? He didn’t. He provided the Way for all men to be reconciled to Him. If we reject Christ, we reject all He is. He gives us the choice, but His absence is Hell.
“Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your week knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but be healed.” (Hebrews 12:12-13)