I am freaked OUT by bone injuries.
I don’t know why this is, but I have always had, what I refer to, as a phobia of gruesome bone injuries. To this day, I have never seen the injury that Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins suffered on Monday Night Football—the result of a tackle made by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants. This injury was so serious that Taylor got up and immediately began pleading for medical staff to hurry onto the field.
I’ve never had the courage to watch it.
That being said, I have seen these types of injuries in sports and elsewhere, and they always leave me feeling squeamish. What’s more, I have a tendency to play these images over and over in my mind so that if I don’t quickly MAKE my mind think about different things, I’ll relive the trauma again and again to the point of getting the creeps…
Enter Friday, November 23, 2018. We had my wife’s family in for Thanksgiving weekend, and several of the guys were outside playing football. You need to understand that whenever I am around a football I am INSTANTLY 12 years old. Now, I’m 49 in people years, but when the pigskin is being tossed around I am a kid.
Earlier that week my wife had asked me to take a heavy plastic container down into the basement. As I was carrying the box down the stairs, I tripped over something and my right ankle instantly folded. I fell down the length of the staircase, cutting my chin and severely spraining my ankle.
So I wasn’t outside playing football, just watching longingly out of my bedroom window.
Suddenly, inspiration struck! I had been wearing an ankle brace since Tuesday and had not experienced any pain for the last day or so. I thought, I could be all-time quarterback! I wouldn’t have to run. I could just deliver the goods into the ol’ breadbasket with my laser-rocket arm, a la Peyton Manning!
I quickly hurried outside and told the guys my plan, and we even headed over to the neighbor’s yard across the street because they had a much bigger and flatter yard than mine.
Everything was going great, and I was delivering the ball to places that only the receiver could catch them. To this point, in my mind I was probably 13-16 passing for 300 yards and 4 TDs. Textbook legendary status.
A freak little thing happened along the way when I did have to scramble to the right just a bit, and as I ran I rolled my ankle again, falling and LITERALLY rolling all the way over landing on my head. It hurt a bit but the adrenaline was flowing, and kept playing. THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SIGN THAT I SHOULDN’T RUN.
Yet, the game went on, and I had just thrown a BEAUTIFUL touchdown pass to my brother-in-law. As the following kickoff ensued, one of my sons caught the ball and everyone began giving chase. He started running towards me, and so I began to run towards him. As I approached him, I planted my right foot into a divot in the ground, and again my ankle rolled.
The next step changed my life.
Trying to keep from falling, I stepped with my left leg, and instantly something popped. I actually felt my femur and my tibia clack together, and I had the immediate thought that my life was going to be different for a while.
I crumpled to the ground in searing pain. I could not move my leg at all, and my kneecap was about 3 inches high and over to the right about 2 inches.
I could barely move, but I finally got into a position where my leg was still. After assessing the situation, I realized I needed an ambulance, and most of the guys ran back to my house to tell my wife and to call 911.
My brother-in-law Rich stayed with me. As I lay on the ground, trying to remain motionless, the muscles in my knee began to seize up, and every time that happened, lightning would shoot into that area. I have never known such pain in my life. Fortunately, this wasn’t constant, but it was unpredictable, and wave after wave of insane agony shot through my knee as I waited for the ambulance to arrive.
In spite of all of this, I experienced an intense sense of peace—even in the pain. From the time of the injury, I instinctively began crying out to God for help. Without even trying, I must have prayed “Jesus, please help me!” a hundred times. I knew that I needed him, and yet, it was not as if someone was there coaxing me to call out to Him. It was just my instinct.
And the amazing thing was, I KNEW He was there with me. Though I was in miserable pain, I sensed Jesus holding my hand, comforting me, and giving me a sense of calm through the whole ordeal.
What I came to understand that day was that as intense as the pain was in my injury, so was the presence of God. His presence did not take away the pain, but His presence and comfort were there with me to support me through the pain.
I had come face-to-face with one of the great fears of my life that day. Yet, what I also became intimately aware of was the TRUTH of God’s word in Isaiah 43:2-3 which says:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Paul the apostle in Ephesians 3:19 prays that Christians will “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” There is a kind of knowledge that surpasses knowledge. This knowledge is not intellectual. It is experiential.
In fact, the Greek word “know” that Paul uses means “to know through first hand experience.” It is the kind of intimate knowledge that a husband and wife have for one another sexually. In Luke 1:34 when Mary is told by the angel that she will conceive and give birth to Jesus, Mary who is still a virgin says, “How will this be since I do not know a man?” She had never experienced sexual intimacy.
This is the kind of knowledge that Paul is praying for believers to have in experiencing the love of Jesus—to have an intimate, first hand, experiential knowledge of Jesus that is beyond the intellectual.
God does not want us just to have a bunch of “facts” about Him. God wants us to know Him personally—experientially. God does not merely want us to know theoretically that He can provide our needs. He wants us to experience His power of provision in our lives. And on Friday afternoon, November 23, 2018 I intimately experienced the immediate presence of God in the midst of one of my greatest fears.
I would never ask for that experience. Yet, I have come to discover that in God allowing that painful trial in my life, though I had come face to face with my fear, I was able to overcome that fear by the indwelling, loving presence of my God who has told me time and time again, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
I am still in recovery from that injury. I wound up having to have two surgeries to repair the patellar tendon that completely tore apart. (The first surgery failed). I still have about four months of physical therapy ahead of me. Nevertheless, the help that was with me on that dreadful day in November continues to aid me now, and I trust (more intimately than before) will ultimately lead me Home.
What are you afraid of?
You will NEVER regret placing your faith in Jesus who ALWAYS keeps His promises.