EDITOR'S NOTE: The Times Free Press is continuing a series of stories from readers about life experiences they attribute to divine intervention. We'll publish another each week as your stories continue to arrive. If you have a God Thing to share, email Life@timesfreepress.com, or mail to Life Department, Chattanooga Times Free Press, 400 E. 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403.
This week, Jan Deems describes how God brought peace to her life after a heartbreaking accident.
The worst day of my life started out to be just another ordinary day. As a single mom, I worked part-time so I could be home more with my children, Terrie and Ricky. It worked out perfectly except in the summer. But now they were teenagers, 15 and 13, who could look after themselves, and I trusted them. Plus, I worked only two miles away from home.
I was sitting at my desk going over some reports when I received a phone call that forever changed my life. It was Terrie, hysterically telling me that Ricky had been hit by a car. I knew he was going to his friend's house so they could go to the community pool together. His friend's mother had called our house explaining to Terrie what had happened. An ambulance had been called and was now on its way to the hospital.
I immediately was frightened by her panic. With great anxiety, I had grabbed my purse and started running for the door while yelling, "Ricky's been hit by a car! I've got to go!" I ran to my car and started driving but had become so unglued I could not remember which way to go to the hospital. I had lived in this community all my life, and I knew where the hospital was located. It was close. But I could not recall exactly where. I had to stop the car and pray, "God, help me — show me — how to get to the hospital; I can't remember!"
Thankfully, with God's assistance, I managed to find my way there. I don't even remember parking the car, let alone turning it off. I recall running into the hospital yelling, "I need to see my son! He was hit by a car! Someone, help me!"
I had been thinking, "Hopefully, it's only a broken leg or an arm; nothing really bad." When the nurses wouldn't let me into the emergency room to see him, I started shouting, "I am his mother! He is frightened, and he needs me." A fireman I knew was standing at the closed doors into the emergency room. He came to me saying, "You don't want to go in there just yet. Let me " I cut him off, saying, "You are not going to stop me from seeing my son!"
One of the nurses, cautiously, said, "Let her go in." I am so grateful the fireman walked right behind me into the room. I looked around, and all I saw was a gurney with a sheet over a body. I started to exclaim, "What in the world are you doing putting a sheet over his " when I realized it was my child under that sheet.
For a few seconds, I was unable to move. All I could think of was I needed to put my arms around Ricky — around that sheet — to let him know I was there. I quickly moved to the gurney so I could hold him. But I was unable to touch him, as I was afraid if I tried to hug him, I would further hurt him. I knew what I was seeing was real, but I was having a difficult time processing it. I just stood there screaming, "No, no, no!"
The fireman had stayed right behind me as I rushed to the gurney. He gently placed his arms around me, quietly saying, "Come, you don't need to see him like this." He did not let go of me, but the next thing I remember was being in the hallway outside the emergency room. I had become so hysterical that I was trying to pull the hair out of my head. He had softly put his hands over mine trying to calm me. Thank God for this fireman, who stayed with me until I was able to quiet down and get a little bit of composure back. However, it seemed like within seconds, my pastor and family were there.
The next few days were a whirlwind of emotional upheaval. I had become frantic, as I did not want to let Terrie out of my sight. I kept thinking something might happen to her too. My friend, Sandy, assured me, "I am watching over her for you; I won't let anything happen to her." My best friend, Sue, basically held my hand through those first few days. I was surrounded by family, neighbors and members of my church; it was almost like being wrapped in a huge heavenly security blanket.
I was barely able to function; however, the Rev. Rhodes, my pastor, took over and did everything possible, which included planning the funeral. Due to the many petitions lifted to heaven from those praying for Terrie and me, I was able to find enough strength to endure the grieving turmoil that had encircled us.
Then came the day of the funeral.
As I entered my church for the service, I thought I was doing OK. I kept thinking, "I have to keep calm for my daughter's sake." It was hard, but because I was surrounded my friends and family, I felt somewhat calm. There was an open casket at the back of the sanctuary. After I said my goodbye to Ricky, until I would see him again in heaven, I went into the sanctuary to sit with Terrie, Sue and Sandy. I once again thought I was handling everything fairly well.
Then the closed casket was brought up to the front of the church for the service to begin.
Upon watching them place the casket right in front of the altar, my first thought was, "Oh no, my son is in that thing." I knew that was just his body and that he was safe in the arms of Jesus. But, at the same time, I became unnerved by just the thought of it all. I remember thinking if this was what a panic attack was like, then I was about to have one.
I started turning this way and that way in the pew, trying to find a way to get out. I felt Sue put her hand on my arm to try to calm me. At the same time, I could feel the screams deep inside of me coming to the surface, and I knew I had to get out of there before I completely lost it.
Just as I thought I wouldn't be able to take it a second longer, Dottie, a lady from my church, had gone to the front of the church and began singing the song "It Is Well With My Soul." She came to the words, "When peace like a river attended my way," but what I heard was God whispering to my heart, "When you are hurting, my peace will come flooding through your soul."
And at that very mo- ment, it was as if someone was standing above me pouring a large pitcher of warm water over me. I could actually feel this warm water as it started at the top of my head and continued to flow all through my body. And with it came this most amazing peace.
The Bible tells us there is a peace that passes understanding that can only come from God. I can't even begin to describe how it felt as his peace rushed through me; it was a miraculous gift from heaven. This incredible peace stayed with me throughout that entire day. Even today, his peace in knowing Ricky is with him and that he is watching over Terrie and me has never left.
Afterward, at the cemetery, several people come up to me and exclaimed, "I can't believe how calm you are." All I could say was, "Believe me, it is not me. This peace is all from God." God's peace had actually flooded my soul, and it was the most wondrous feeling that you can imagine.
John 14:27 says, "I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be afraid or troubled" (emphasis mine).
These words from God are true; he tells us we can have real peace in the midst of any storm that enters our life. His peace is very real. I know this because I have experienced this supernatural peace flowing through me.
— Jan Deems