It was March 4, 1999 and I was living in Jacksonville, Florida going to Trinity Baptist College. I left my dorm one afternoon and sought out a car wash to clean my Chevy Blazer, better known as “The Blaze of Glory!” I came upon the Sonshine Car Wash and thought it was as good as any! Now, when I clean my car, I do it right. I washed and dried the outside and made the tires all shiny then drove forward to the vacuums to clean out the inside, all the while not noticing that the sun had gone down and it was dark. I was on the driver’s side of the car vacuuming out the floorboard and had just put the quarters into the vacuum when all of a sudden someone grabbed my arm and turned me around. I was pinned up against the open car door & I dropped the vacuum. This man who grabbed my arm demanded that I give him the keys to my car. Now, I know that I should have just given him the keys, but my Texas stubbornness kicked in and I told him “No”. I actually whispered it because I couldn’t seem to make the words make noise. At that moment the vacuum shut off; this was either a cheap car wash or God shut off that vacuum, I believe the later. The man then asked me again and was more forceful this time, I saw another car pulling up to see what was going on so I started to scream and yelled as loud as I could, “No, I’m not giving you the keys to my car!” He saw the other car and he took off running into a field that was behind the car wash but before he did he took a box cutter and cut a 6”-7” cut on my right arm.
I grabbed my sweet, purple, Nokia and called my best friend, Kristi who was close by at a friend’s apartment and they came and picked me up and took me to the hospital. While we were there, I spoke with a police officer and the doctor stitched & bandaged my arm. My sweet khaki cargo shorts & my blue Old Navy fleece were covered in blood. The doctor gave me a scrub shirt to put on. Confession: I also wanted the doctor to give me some different pants to put on because when I was first grabbed at the car wash, I peed my pants. Ok, moving on.
I have been asked several times about the scar on the inside of my right arm. It’s a pretty easy story for me to tell, now. After it first happened, I was terrified for a very long time. I never went anywhere alone, I had a lot of nightmares and I hated the fact that it happened. However, now I can see how God worked through that terrible situation.
We’ve all had terrible things happen in our lives and we all have scars from them. Some of the scars are visible and some remain unseen, however God can and wants to work through those scars. A few years ago at Youth Alive (the youth camp that I’m the coordinator of) I was talking with a girl who was 17 years old and she had been through a similar situation like I had been through at the car wash. When we started talking, I had no idea about her situation and she did not know about mine, but God knew and he put the two of us together for that very reason. He knew that I could relate to what she was going through and that I would be able to give her some of the same advice that other people had given me!
Some advice that I was given:
-“We can get a new car, we can’t get a new you.” – my Mom
– “That man took just a few minutes of your life, it’s up to you to decide how much more time he gets.” – Patti Appleby
I’ve thought about those two pieces of advice a lot! First, No one can ever get a new me. I am one of a kind and so are you! God made you to be you and not anyone else!
Second, it was up to me decide if I was going to allow this situation to make me bitter or better. It was up to me to decide if I was going to give it to God and let him work through it. It was up to me to decide how much power this continued to have over me.
What happened at the car wash came out of nowhere, which is often the case with difficult things in life. However, we must remember that nothing surprises God and hard aches do not change who God is. He is sovereign, holy and good!
The cut on my right arm went deeper than skin level and it took more time to fully heal than was evident on my arm. This is what happens with our “life scars”. They take time and attention to heal. We cannot simply just forget about them. If I would have forgotten about my arm and never gone to the hospital or any follow up doctors visits, my arm would have gotten infected or worse. When we try and just cover up our hurts and our wounds instead of learning from them and allowing God to heal them, we end up spiritually infected.
What scars do you have? Are you allowing God to work on them so that they can heal, or are you trying to sweep them under the rug as if God doesn’t know that they’re there?
The day after the car wash incident, I was at school and I had people coming up to me saying things like, “We heard that he stabbed you seven times in the stomach.” I was like “Yeah, that happened and I’m hear in chapel today with my arm bandaged.” HA
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.