Trusting God Through the Trial
What a near-fatal accident taught me about faith and ministry
March 14, 2018, seemed like just another day. I was scheduled to preach at a youth service near my hometown. My sister, Haley, and I made it just two miles down the road before our car was broadsided by a distracted driver.
When I regained consciousness, I could see myself in the rearview mirror, my face covered in blood. The car was facing the opposite way from the direction we had been traveling. Every window was shattered, and the door was pinned against my legs.
I looked over at my sister, who wasn’t moving. I tried to scream her name, but I couldn’t take in enough air to make a sound. After many attempts, I finally managed to shout — loud enough, I thought, to wake her or confirm my fears. To my relief, her eyes fluttered open, and she grabbed my hand.
With the air I had left in my lungs, I began to pray out loud. When I opened my eyes, I was hoping it would all be over, that we would be standing outside the car like nothing ever happened.
The life flight from Bellingham, Washington, to Seattle was 41 minutes of indescribable pain and parallelizing fear. I was aware of lights shining in my face, my clothes being cut off, and the voices of medical personnel. I was able to make sense of a few words. I heard “broken pelvis in three places,” “not internally bleeding yet,” “broken ribs,” and “a puncture in her left lung.”
I was 24 years old. This was not the way I had envisioned my life turning out. I turned my head toward the blank wall, closed my eyes and said, “I don’t think I can do this. I think It would be easier to meet you tonight, Jesus.”
In my moment of greatest need, Jesus whispered to my heart, “I am right here, Erica, where I have always been and will always be.”
Taken in for surgery, I woke up with an external fixator drilled into the front of my pelvis. This device kept me from putting weight on the left side of my body for three months.
Sick and weak, my weight dropped to 97 pounds. I couldn’t dress myself, lift my legs in bed, or use the bathroom myself. My doctor called me “the miracle girl.” I was told that, considering the severity of my injuries, I shouldn’t have lived past the initial impact of the accident.
When life throws unexpected and unwanted things our way, we don’t have to navigate them alone.
Before I left the hospital, the doctor said, “You are going to walk, Erica. But it’s going to be a hard road, and you will have to teach your body to do it again.”
In the months leading up the accident, I had felt like I was finally seeing the open doors for which I had prayed. I was about to graduate from the online ministry program at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. On the verge of becoming a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, I had lined up an exciting job interview. Now I was learning to put one foot in front of another.
“This was not the time, God,” I kept saying — as if there is ever a good time to have your life turned upside down.
I had to be wheeled across the graduation stage instead of walking it. I attended the new ministers’ meeting with the eternal fixator still attached, being pushed up to the table instead of walking in. Naturally, I was grateful to be alive. Yet my life felt like a constant string of setbacks.
Five months after the accident, I was able to gather enough strength to stand with crutches for just a brief moment. This moment gave me hope. It reminded me that God is always faithful to keep His promises. When He said he would be there with me, He meant it.
In the midst of a trial, it’s easy to look at the challenging circumstances. But as I began to look to God, I learned more about trust than I ever thought possible.
Though I had trusted God since my childhood, I had also struggled with finding my purpose. I knew I was called to ministry, but I didn’t know what that looked like. I had thought I needed to figure out my next steps. Going through this experience showed me I can’t rely on my own strength or strategies. I need God’s strength and guidance!
When life throws unexpected and unwanted things our way, we don’t have to navigate them alone. God is faithful; He just needs us to be faithful, too. Now I know faithfulness and trust were all He wanted from me all along. Because of that, I can step out in faith with zero hesitation.
God has saved my life twice — first when He forgave my sins and came into my heart, and again on March 14, 2018. I am now in the process of becoming ordained, moving forward with strength and courage that can only come from God. I know this setback was a setup for the life, ministry and purpose God has planned for me.
Whatever setbacks you may be facing as you head into the new year, know that God is faithful to finish what He started in you. He will direct your steps; your job is to walk with Him.