“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
There are many things I love about the little country church that my family and I attend. One of these is the daily devotional booklet that sits quietly in our mailbox at the end of each month, waiting for me to take it home. It was through this devotional that I was introduced to Dr. Charles Stanley and the term “happy accidents.” He explained that when good things fall into place, many people are quick to give luck or fate the credit. But these “accidents” don’t really happen accidentally. They are perfect and precise plans that are made possible by God. Upon reading the explanation of this term, I realized how many times I had been the fortunate recipient of several incidents some would call happy accidents.
Soon after my son’s paralyzing car accident, we were preparing to make the move to a rehabilitation hospital a few hours away. A day before the transfer, we were made aware of another life-threatening issue. His lungs were filling with blood, so instead of packing his bags, my son was now being prepped for yet another surgery—his third in six days. The transfer would now be postponed, the bed at the rehab facility would be given to another patient, and my son’s frail body would once again be put to sleep, this time to insert tubes into his chest. It was more than I could take. I followed the doctor out of his room, not to ask him questions, but to find a deserted hallway where my tears could fall.
Minutes later I found myself almost lost in a tangle of hallways, doors and offices in another wing of the hospital. My tears had stopped just enough for me to notice an empty sitting area, across from a nurse’s station. I took some deeps breaths, reminded myself that God was still in control and grabbed a tissue from a box on the windowsill. When I felt like my eyes had lost their puffiness, I decided to try and make my way back to my son’s room. I stood up and walked toward the nurse’s station to ask for the easiest way back to the ICU. As I waited, I noticed a white sign on the cupboard. It read “Feeding Tubes.” These two simple words were enough to remind me that my son’s situation could be so much worse. Although he would need tubes to clear his lungs, he was still capable of talking, breathing, and eating on his own. I could have easily passed this sign off as a coincidence, but I decided that God had placed it there just for me, as a reminder that we were in His hands.
In February this past year, my son was back in the hospital because of a pressure wound that had become infected and required surgery. The surgeon explained that once he recovered from this surgery, it would be necessary for my son to have a standing wheelchair to allow him to relieve some of the pressure caused by sitting in a regular wheelchair. We had been told that these chairs sometimes cost tens of thousands of dollars, an amount we certainly did not have.
We decided to visit with a few mobility sales representatives, and eventually found a company that made a standing wheelchair that was more reasonably priced. Although it was several thousand dollars less, we knew we didn’t have that much available. Fortunately, our wonderful friends had organized a benefit for our son shortly after his accident. We had been using the money to pay medical bills and hadn’t needed to dip into this account for quite some time. In fact, I couldn’t remember the amount that was left, so I called the bank. When the amount was given to me over the phone, I knew that this was not a ‘happy accident,’ but a wonderful gift from God that was going to provide for our son’s needs. The amount left in the benefit account was just $83 short of covering the cost of the wheelchair!
This summer I realized that another one of these so-called “happy accidents” stretches from our driveway to our front door. Our wheelchair ramp consists of 50 boards and requires scraping and painting each year. As I was working on it recently, I started thinking about its amazing story, and the detailed plan that God had created to ensure that it ended up in front of our home right before my son was dismissed from the rehab hospital.
A friend of ours was a realtor in a neighboring community. She happened to sell a house that had belonged to an elderly couple. This couple had recently added a wheelchair ramp. When a younger couple decided to buy the house, they told the realtor that they didn’t have any need for the ramp. The realtor explained our situation, and asked the new owners if she and her husband could come and take the ramp. One of the pastors in the community heard about the project and offered to help take the ramp apart and then put it back together again in front of our house with help from a few members of his congregation. So with several willing volunteers from both communities, God’s plan for my son to have a ramp for his wheelchair came to pass.
Sometimes I think of my life as a giant puzzle, but it is God that is putting the pieces into place. If I had been choosing the pieces, I can assure you that I would have skipped the car accident, the need for mobility equipment, and the wheelchair ramp. But without these pieces, my puzzle would not have ended up as God intended. Each of these things, good or bad, has been part of His intricate plan for my puzzle. When the bad pieces are connected, I am thankful that God will never leave me. And when the good pieces are added, I know that they are not added accidentally, but are gifts from a loving God.