SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE
5th, 1999, will be a day that I will always remember as a turning point
in my life. That was the day that God gave me a second chance. This time
He didn't save me from sin, or sorrow. This time He physically saved my
You see, that was the day
that I broke my neck...
“GOD, WHO HAS
CALLED YOU INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, IS FAITHFUL.”
God doesn't make bad things
happen to good people, but he does bring blessings from bad situations.
More often than not, change starts with a challenge. Whether the challenge
is physical, emotional, or spiritual, unless you are challenged in some
way, you are most likely going to stay the same.
Some people ask:
‘Why does God allow people
to get Cancer?’,
‘Why does God allow people
to get hurt, even permanently injured?’,
‘Where is God when I
feel so alone?’
The answer is God's right
by your side, helping you every step of the way whether you know it or
not. God doesn't stop bad things from happening because then he would be
taking away from our freedom to choose. He still allows us to make our
own choices, and suffer our own consequences, but stays with us through
it all. Whether it be cancer, paralysis, emotional strain, or something
else totally unexpected, these situations that we are forced to deal with
at certain times in our life cause us to slow down. They cause us to take
a good, long, hard look at where we are headed, and reevaluate our direction
After just recently going
through a very difficult time in my life after breaking my neck, I now
realize that it is so much of a blessing not only to me, but the people
around me. Whether it was the emergency personnel rescuing me from the
backcountry after I tumbled off a 30 foot cliff on my mountain bike, or
the doctors in the hospital after I arrived, they all noticed something
I had that other patients didn't… peace.
"And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus."
Christ is not only love and
truth, but also peace. I was at peace with the whole situation, even after
I saw the x-ray of C2 in my neck broken in half. I was at peace when they
said that surgery would need to be done to correct my neck. I was even
at peace just after the injury took place, knowing full well that I could
be a quadriplegic for life, if I didn't die first.
Praise the Lord I'm still
alive, let alone able to walk! It looks like he still has some work left
to do with me yet. The doctors in emergency said that they don't often
see people alive after getting a “hangman's fracture”, let alone walking
out of the hospital 9 days after it happens.
This story doesn't start
on Powderface Trail in Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada however, it starts
two weeks earlier in a dream.
Now you have to understand…
I wasn't really ever one to believe that I could have “visions”, or see
into the future, so what I'm about to tell you still sounds strange even
to me. The night of August 18, 1999, I had one of the most vivid dreams
that I actually remembered after waking up.
The dream started off with
me in the forest lying on my back. I got the impression that something
really awful had just happened and I had to stay very still. There were
people gathered around me and I asked them to pray with me. We asked the
Lord's blessing on the whole situation.
A flash occurred.
The next thing I remember
was me looking up seeing the bottom of a helicopter, being suspended from
it with a 50 foot rope. I remember thinking in the dream, ‘Gosh, this is
my first helicopter ride and I don't even get to enjoy it!’ I also remember
there being a photographer around that was taking pictures of everything.
Another flash occurred.
The next thing I know I'm
riding in an ambulance.
Now I'm in the emergency
ward of a hospital.
I'm being slowly backed into
a creamy white tube with a red light whizzing circularly around my head.
The final sequence showed
me an x-ray with C3 and C5 in my neck being the focus. I was very adamant
in the dream that the doctors check C5 to make sure that it wasn't damaged.
The next thing I know, a
voice, which I know to be the voice of the Lord, spoke to me with a few
key statements. He said,
“All these things
must come to pass, but I will be with you through it all. There will be
the right people in the right place at the right time.” The final underlying
statement was, “You will fully recover.”
The following morning I awoke
rather disturbed by the dream, but passed it off as just that, a dream.
Two weeks came and went,
and I was once again reminded of the dream. My thought at the time was,
“Well, it hasn't happened yet, so I guess it's not going to happen.”
Little did I know what God
was preparing me for!
was the long weekend on Sunday, September 5, 1999. Me and two other friends
decided to go mountain biking on Powderface Trail in the foothills 60kms
west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I consider myself a moderate rider with
quite a bit of experience in the type of terrain that we were to tackle
that day. We decided to only take the small loop (6.8kms), and started
off at about 1:30pm that afternoon.
The sun poked through the
clouds on occasion, but for the most part it was a perfect day to be mountain
biking. The brisk, mountain air rushed past as we started out on the trail,
enjoying what was probably going to be the last mountain bike ride of the
season before the snow hit.
Two other friends and myself
were making good time, and were on the way back to the car with only 1.5kms
remaining on the trail. It had been uphill most of the way there, so we
had started to take on some of the downhill.
single track was fairly wide, with rapidly rising terrain to the left,
and a drop off to the right. I was being cautious as we descended around
a slight curve to the left. There was a rock sticking up in the middle
of the path, so I decided to go around it to the right. My tire must have
hit another rock or something, because before I knew it, I was skidding
off the pathway and over the hill. Attempting with all my might to correct
only made matters worse as I tumbled down the 45 degree incline.
After that I blacked out.
One of my friends riding
just behind me related the rest of the story 2 weeks after the event. When
I tried to ditch the bike and not go down the hill, the bike hit something
in the woods, and I was sent catapulting back first over a 30 foot cliff.
happened in slow motion,” my friend grimaced, recalling in agony what happened
after that. “I didn't see how you landed after you went over the cliff,
but I did manage to rush down and find you at the bottom of the gully.
It must have been 50 feet before you rolled to a stop.”
My scraped up glasses had
snapped in half, protecting my eyes from damage, but the rest of me wasn't
vaguely remember sitting on a rock holding my neck with excruciating pain
resonating throughout my body. Since I still had color in my face and was
coherent at the time, my friend and I walked back out to the pathway. I
vaguely remember holding my neck with both hands and keeping it straight
as we walked, because I knew that something was terribly wrong.
Once we made it back out
to the path, a registered nurse just happened to be hiking in the opposite
direction. She instructed me to lie down and kept my neck as still as possible.
Within a period of about 5 minutes, God brought along a doctor and two
other nurses (4 medical personnel in total). As I later found out, the
husband of one of the nurses was the doctor that later treated me in emergency.
I don't remember doing this,
but when everybody was gathered around me, in amongst the chaos and repeating
myself several times from the concussion on the back of my head, I told
everybody that I had seen this in a dream before. I said that in the dream,
Some of the people laughed,
but my friends knew that I meant what I said, so we prayed. Nine people
came by with cell phones, but none of them worked from the remote area
where we were. It wasn't until somebody with an Emergency Medical Phone
came along were we able to call for help. The Park Ranger came in soon
after that with an immobilization board. Since another ATV accident had
just occurred nearby, I was second in line to be air lifted out.
took 4 hours before the helicopter arrived, but it only seemed like a couple
of minutes to me. I was delirious, repeating myself every couple of minutes.
All that I remember from that entire time I was laying on the path was
looking up and seeing a worried look on one of my friends’ faces.
The next thing that I can
remember is looking up and seeing a helicopter in motion, dangling below
it from a 100 foot rope. My head was strapped down tight to the immobilization
board with a collar protecting my neck. I tried to look side to side using
just my eyes, but all I could see was air. "It's happening," I thought,
"The dream is happening!" After that, I blacked out again.
From what I heard later,
I kept repeating something over and over to the rescue worker. He couldn't
hear what I was saying until after they landed since the helicopter was
making so much noise. What he finally heard me say was,
“It's OK. I’ll
managed to airlift me to a nearby parking lot, and an Ambulance took me
into Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada from there. I remember
part of the ride, but my memory is still rather vague. From what the EMT
person later told me, I was reassuring him that everything would be all
Isn't that backwards?
Isn't he supposed to be
God already had reassured
me, so I knew that I would be all right… without a doubt. He didn't leave
any doubts in my mind as to the events that were taking place, and what
was to come.
After making it to the hospital,
the doctors immediately ordered a CAT scan, MRIs and x-rays to be done
for analysis. I opened my eyes for about 2 seconds as I was going into
the CAT scan machine with a red light rotating around my head. I didn't
realize what the machine was in my dream, but I knew what it was in real
I fully regained consciousness
at about 9pm that evening, in the emergency ward of the hospital. A barrage
of doctors and nurses came by doing test after test, and taking samples
as well as sticking an IV into my left arm. They kept asking, “Can you
move your feet?” and “Do you feel this?”
You'd think that I would
be in a state of shock, anxiety, and fear, but that was the furthest thing
from the truth.
had such a sense of overwhelming peace, that I don't know how to describe
it. As I lay on an immobilization board with a neck collar on, looking
at the x-ray of my hangman's fracture, not knowing if I would ever be able
to fully walk again (let alone play basketball or fly an airplane), Jesus
gave me His peace. I had complete reassurance from Jesus that He was looking
after me, and that He would bring me through this life challenging situation.
With my parents by my bedside,
I started to sing:
“Even youths grow tired
Young men stumble and fall (they
But those who wait on the Lord,
will renew their strength.
They will mount with wings, like
They will run and not, not grow
They will walk and not, not grow
Do you not know, have you not heard,
the Lord is the everlasting
The creator of, heaven and earth,
He will not grow tired or
And His understanding, no one can
He gives strength to the weary,
and increases the power of
I will run, and I will walk.
I will soar on wings like eagles!”
Tears streaming down my cheeks,
I sang this song again and again. Being a pilot, it has an added emotional
response since I too “soar on wings like eagles”.
Would I ever get to fly again?
God holds the answer to
One of the doctors in emergency
(who was the husband of the nurse on the trail), amidst the chaos offhandedly
remarked “We don't see many people alive after this type of injury, let
alone those who retain full motor control in both their arms and legs.”
This may have seemed brash
to those around me, but it was the truth. Here I was, a 21-year-old man,
in the midst of physical, emotional, and spiritual despair and God saved
me from it. Why he chose to spare me, I’ll only get to ask Him in
heaven. But I do know one thing, He spared me so that I could serve Him.
I remembered about C3 and
C5 from my dream, so I asked the doctors to take a close look at those
“There's nothing wrong with
them” stated the radiologist on duty.
Praise the Lord! That is
the only part of the dream that did not come true... but Jesus never lies,
so what did He mean? He answered a few days later.
Streams of friends and family
came to see me that night at the hospital. Their support and prayers were
definitely heard by God, and he answered them in a big way. After praying
with various people, and speaking with several different doctors, the decision
was made to put me in a “Halo”. No, they weren't going to pull the plug
and send me up to heaven so I could have one, rather attach a metal halo
to my head.
halo helps to keep the neck straight and fully extended, allowing for healing
to occur. The orthodic specialist was called in, who just so happened to
be a biomechanical engineer and a Christian! He drilled into my skull 4
separate screws to hold the halo in place.
“You're going to hear a loud
snap” he proclaimed using his screwdriver to fasten the bolts into my head.
amazing how loud things seem when they are directly attached to your skull.
“How do you feel?” he inquired,
knowing what the answer was going to be before he even asked the question.
“Like my head is in a vice!”
I announced in agony, still trying to regain my composure after having
my skull compressed by this monolithic torture device.
thereafter, they placed me in traction to try and let my neck heal on its
own. The thought was, if they could stretch my neck out enough, maybe it
would go back into place on its own. This was done over a period of 2 days,
with limited success. It started to move back on its own, but when they
got me walking again, it slipped out of position. Five days later, the
decision was made to go ahead and do surgery.
The surgeon was one of the
best in Canada. When he came into my hospital room to discuss the surgery,
God revealed why he showed me C3 and C5 in my dream. I heard him say, "I
usually specialize in C3 to C5, but I've done about thirty C2 surgeries."
God was actually telling me the person who was going to do the surgery,
not which vertebrae would be broken. Praise You Lord!
Leading up to this time,
there were many people praying for my recovery. A lot of people who I hadn't
seen in a long time visited me in the hospital, including some friends
from high school. Pastors from various churches, as well as my sister from
San Francisco came to see me. It is truly amazing to see God's family at
work when ‘tragedy’ strikes. It is also truly amazing to see Him work in
others, and help them to re-evaluate their lives because of what happened
to me. I saw the Lord at work in everybody that I had a chance to talk
with, and I know they saw Him at work in me.
The following Saturday I
went in for surgery. With my family and friends present, we had a prayer
session to ask the Lord's blessing on what was about to take place. I also
did something that is apparently uncommon before surgery.
Right after I was wheeled
into the surgery room, and before the anesthetist administered his sleeping
potion, I asked if we could all pray over the surgery.
“We don't usually do this…
but sure!” replied the doctor.
Holding hands around the
operating table, I lifted up my voice.
I pray that you guide the doctors and work through them for your glory.
I pray that your will be done, and that you are present throughout the
entire procedure. Please bless these people as they work to heal your craftsmanship.
In Jesus name, Amen.”
Immediately following the prayer,
the peace of the Lord calmed my anxious heart, and relaxed me beyond what
I was humanly capable of doing on my own.
I then had the distinct pleasure
of gargling Novocain to numb my throat and trachea before they inserted
a tube into my lungs for the tracheotomy. After ascertaining that I could
still move my feet and hands while on artificial breathing, they knocked
4 hours pass.
I awoke in the recovery room
with a wretched taste in my mouth. Welcome to the wonderful world of anesthetics.
Groggy and not able to talk because my mouth was still frozen, I tried
to ask the nurse “How dod everyfing go?”
doctor said that is was 99% perfect.” She informed me.
Praise you Lord! That was
music to my ears! I was later able to acquire a copy of the x-ray with
the newly reinforced titanium plate that now held together C2 and C3 in
my neck. The surgical team also took the disc out from in-between those
two vertebrae and replaced it with a bone graft from my hip. This allows
my neck to fuse together over time, and only decreases mobility by 5%.
(Click on the picture to see an MPEG
movie of the transformation from surgery.)
I was walking the day after
surgery, and was out of the hospital in 2 days. The following weekend I
visited 2 churches that I attend to thank them for their prayers and support
through this time. I also wanted to show them that God hears their prayers,
and answers. It was a little painful physically to go to those church services,
but it was well worth it.
I can't even begin to put
into words the emotion that I felt singing to the Lord that weekend. He
spared my soul, my mind, and my body. I didn't do anything to deserve it,
but accept Him as my Lord and Savior.
So many times I find myself
thinking that I have to earn His love. Then I remember there is nothing
I could ever do to win my way into the heart of a powerful and holy God.
All I have to do is Believe in His son, Jesus Christ. Believe that Jesus
died on the cross for my sins so that I could be forgiven as a sinner.
Believe that through Jesus, I could be seen as holy in the sight of God.
Never has God's Love been
clearer to me than during these challenging times. As I looked out of my
hospital room window one clear Fall night, I gazed across the pastel pink
sunset sky, foothills in the foreground, and snow capped glistening mountain
peaks as the backdrop.
For just a fleeting moment
I understood His plan not only for my life, but for all of humanity. I
understood how massive and awesome God truly is. I also realized how short
our time is on Earth, and how precious our time here really is.
I'm not completely sure why
it takes such a slap in the face for me to genuinely appreciate life, but
I do know that there has been so many blessings that have come from this
incident, I can't even begin to count them.
I also know that I will fully
recover in God's time, and that I will be made whole to serve Him and advance
His kingdom on earth. He usually just tells me the next step to take, and
which direction to head in, but never tells me the end destination… until
When God blessed me with
that dream, he was shining a floodlight on what was going to happen in
my life. He laid it all on the line, and then told me that I would fully
recover from what was about to happen. If the Lord didn't want me to have
this injury, He could have easily shown me a mountain bike in my dream.
That would have prevented me from going mountain biking in the first place.
But he decided not to do
that. Why? Because the decisions that we make, and choices we choose determine
how we live our life. Since He wasn't about to short-circuit my freedom
of choice, he allowed these events to run their course. But he also had
a plan and let me in on how he would bless this situation to impact not
only my life, but also the lives of those around me.
People around me grew in
their faith leaps and bounds when they saw how Jesus was working in me
and through me. I also grew in my understanding of the almighty as he carried
me through the injury, surgery, and recovery. But none of this growth would
have happened unless the accident first took place.
Sometimes the most precious
gifts God can ever give makes our bodies ache, and our hands bleed when
we open them.
If you get anything out of
me telling you this story, please listen to this: God is a God of love.
He is a God of second chances. If you put your trust in Jesus, he will
never let you down. No matter how scared you might be giving it all over
to Him, and trusting your life in His hands, you will never regret it if
you make that decision. I challenge you to make that life transforming
Let the walls down between
you and Jesus. Admit that you can't do it on your own and let Him take
full control over your life. Confess your sins to Him and repent. Become
a new creation in Christ and consecrate yourself to living for Him and
not for your own selfish desires. Get to know Jesus personally, intimately.
Make a decision for Christ,
not only for the short time that you are on this earth, but for eternity.
Plan for the future by planning with Christ. He is the ultimate life planner
and friend. Your relationship with Him is one that will never fail as long
as you humble yourself and obey His prompting. He is the King of Kings,
and the Lord of Lords! When you put your trust in Him, He will never let
you down. God is Faithful.
Tuesday, December 07, 1999
- The Halovest Comes Off.
I will never forget that
day that the Halovest came off. What a weight off my shoulders! One thing
that I won't miss is the strange looks, and also the questions:
Q. "How do you
A. "Like a baby - I sleep
for an hour, cry for an hour..."
Q. "How do you get your
This was definitely a spiritual
marker in my life, and as such, I sat down and wrote a letter to God. The
picture below is of my mother and I three days after I got the halo off.
You will notice that the pin holes on the front of my head healed up very
quickly - Praise the Lord! Both the pin holes and the scar on my neck will
take time to fully heal, but the Lord did promise me a FULL recovery, and
that is exactly what I am claiming. Here is the letter to God that I wrote:
I stand on the edge of tomorrow, and how sweet it is. Less than 4 hours
ago, I was in bondage to a halovest, but now I sit here, in your glory...
FREE. Free from all physical and spiritual hindrances that hold me back
from being all that you created me to be. Before September 5th, I felt
like there was a huge burden holding me back, but I couldn't put my finger
on it. Not only did you break me (physically, mentally, emotionally, and
spiritually), but you also set me free, only after you showed me your truth
So here I am, a man that
is devoted to you, and doing your will. A man that is so very grateful
for bringing me through the depths of despair to the mountain peaks. But
I've leaned that it is in the depths that I grow the most in you. I'm grateful
and blessed for my physical health to be restored by you, almighty Father.
It is amazing to simply be able to turn my head just a little, to hold
a phone up to my ear, to scratch my back, to give somebody a hug, to get
into a car without bumping my head, to stretch my neck, to eat without
a bib, to not be looked at like a freak, to be me again.
On the way home, after getting
the halo removed, tears of joy and gratitude simply started flowing down
my face. I started to sing:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
The Lord Reigns
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
The Lord Almighty Reigns
He has shown his awesome power,
He has triumphed mightily,
He’s the victor over darkness and
He has broken chains that bounds
He has set the prisoner Free,
By His own great mercy, we are Saved!
Praise you Lord God for restoring
my life, and blessing me with your promise of a full recovery. Praise you
Jesus for being a friend, closer than a brother. Thank you Holy Spirit
and the angels for keeping my soul and spirit uplifted during this time.
And thank you Lord that I can now bow my head when I pray, and give you
all the glory, honor and power that you so rightfully deserve. Even now
as I write this, tears of thanksgiving roll down my cheek.
Father, Thank you cannot
even start to describe the gratitude that I have right now. I pray that
you always help me to remember this as a starting point in my service to
you. Keep the blessings coming, and grant me the wisdom of how I can effectively
let the overflow of you in my life pour out into the lives of others.
Thank you for this time of
refining Lord. Now it is time to share you with the world. In Jesus powerful
name I pray. Amen, and Amen.
is now over 6 years later, and I have fully recovered just like God promised. I
finished Electrical Engineering at the University of Calgary, and I am now an airline pilot in the United States.
Praise God for blessing me, and you, so richly.
If this has impacted you
in any way, please let me know. I would love to hear from you! Write to
God loves you,