Happy Anniversary to Me!!
This photo was taken on May 2, 1952, one hour before I was struck and critically injured by a car. Coma. Paralyzed. Blind. Yet God's mercy and grace were greater still. He used the crippling of my body and mind and my sense of hopelessness years later to draw me to himself and give me eternal life in Jesus Christ. Today I say, "Hallelujah, praise God from whom all blessings flow!" – David Apple. Here is the rest of the story:
My life, as I remember it, began at age 5 when, playing ball, I ran into the road. I was told that my mother screamed as the car, brakes screeching, struck me; that my grandfather cried out and my brother, who witnessed the impact, suffered from shock. I know that there was nothing the driver of the car could do to avoid hitting me. I lay in the street motionless, blood oozing from mouth, nose and ears with a skull fracture. One hospital refused to admit me; there were no available beds. They said I would not survive anyway. Another hospital admitted and treated me. The doctors bore holes in my skull to relieve the pressure. Whether I would live was questionable.
My mother, an atheist, prayed to a God she did not know. Professing no faith in God, she prayed and prayed that I would live. She didn't make any deals to bargain for my life, she just wanted me to be spared. As long as I was in the coma, she prayed. She didn't want to lose me, I was told, no matter what condition I would be in.
Her prayers to the unknown God were heard as several days later I regained consciousness. The doctors told her that I was completely paralyzed on my left side and my right eye was blind. They said that I would never walk and at best my life would be a very, very difficult one.
Although my parents heard the doctors’ words, they had every confidence that I would walk and after three months of hospitalization, they brought me home intent upon that goal. Family and friends mobilized and gave me whatever physical therapy was necessary. They manipulated and exercised my left arm, hand and leg. They were determined and that determination paid off, for within a year after the accident I had movement on my left side. Later I had enough strength to stand, my wheel chair was taken away, and I walked with heavy, ugly braces. But I walked. And I struggled to live as normal a life as I possibly could. My family did all that could be done for me, and more. Everything, that is, except give me hope.
The injuries sustained in the accident and my inability to be "like other people" handicapped me more emotionally than physically. I had deep emotional scars. I felt crippled. I considered myself crippled for life. Self-conscious about how I walked and haunted by how crippled I looked to myself in the mirror, I became a very embittered person. Appearing happy on the outside, I was filled with self-pity and rage on the inside. I was unloving and cynical and sarcastic. I felt that my insides were scarred with no possibility of healing. My parents had taught me well: I, too, didn't believe that there was a God and I had no hope: no hope of being healed, no hope of positive self-growth, no hope for a successful future.
When I was nineteen I experienced a spiritual transformation through the witness of an African-American friend. For several years prior to this he spoke to me about Jesus. Jesus this, Jesus that. I couldn’t stand it! All the time telling me who his savior was and what Jesus had done in his life, how he had “lifted him out of the ash heap and dung pile and clothed him in robes of splendor.” During these times I’d say “I have no hope. There is no God. Leave me alone with this Jesus.” That is, until he introduced me some friends from his inner-city church.
What were they like? They were blind, crippled and poor. There were former addicts and ex-prostitutes. To me they appeared broken. Yet there was something special about them. For instance, the blind man said he could see, the crippled man said he was whole, the addict said he was cured. Among those I met was an 86 year old man. He was crippled and confined to a wheelchair. He was blind and poor. As far as I could tell, he had absolutely nothing going for him. And yet, he taught me so much. Superficially he had nothing; but inwardly he said he had everything. His face shone with a love and joy I'd never seen before. “It’s because of Jesus,” he said. Here was someone who, in this lifetime, had suffered more than I had. And here was someone who had become victorious over his painful human condition. I saw the possibility of a similar victory and after being "witnessed" to for four years I wanted what he had. God’s redemption had begun. This and one other incident would transform my life forever.
A month before my scheduled baptism I was on my way to church. Driving down a narrow one-way street, a small child suddenly ran out in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes and the tires screeched. I sat there in shock with my face in my hands. Seeing the child's body lying motionless in front of my car, I visualized my own auto accident years before. I heard a woman screaming which must have sounded like my own mother’s screams 13 years earlier. All I could do was pray. The police came and, following the ambulance, escorted me to the hospital.
Two hours later I found out the boy was badly bruised but would be okay. His name was Edwin. God used him to shatter any doubts I had in Jesus' ability to save my life and truly be my Savior and Lord. At the same time that Edwin was saved from death, I knew that I, too, was saved from death, physically as a child and spiritually as an adult. Through that experience the Holy Spirit revealed to me the wonderful saving grace of Jesus. From that point on I knew that I was not my own but belonged body and soul to my faithful Savior. I believed without a doubt that I was bought with the price of Christ's atoning blood and it was then and there that I dedicated my life and work to him. I wanted to help people transform their lives as Christ had transformed mine.
The Lord healed me and made me whole--my physical handicaps, if anything, became a mere inconvenience. Now when I look in the mirror I no longer cringe at the sight of an unworthy, hopeless soul. I see what God sees: someone saved by the blood of the lamb and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.