Tomorrow May Not Be Mine

Note from Eric: As a wife and mother of two children, the unthinkable happened when Joy was in a car accident that broke her neck.  As she lay in the hospital, she had to face whether or not she was ready for what’s to come beyond this life.

by Joy Schroeder

Stories of tragedy often begin by stating “that fateful day began like any other.”  That should warn us to be suspicious of days like that. Of course, I was not suspicious on March 14, 1987 and went to the grocery store instead.

As I left the parking area with my car full of chicken etc., I was hit by a speeding car driven by a young man having a very good time. The impact knocked me unconscious and broke my neck. The firemen spent an hour using the Jaws of Life to get me out of the car.

I woke up on the ground with many worried faces looking down on me. I couldn’t move and I struggled for breath. Something was very wrong. At the same time, great peace came over me like a comforting blanket. I wondered how those two feelings could  happen simultaneously: peace, when something was wrong. It was the first of many  miraculous interventions by God during the next few months and years.

During the first few hours in the hospital, the doctors and nurses worked soberly. I knew it was bad; I had lost a friend to a broken neck shortly before. Dick, my husband, leaned over me and, tight-lipped and pale, said, “The doctor gives you a 50-50 chance of living.”

I didn’t want to die. I had two small children to raise and a marriage to accomplish. I began to look back over how I had invested the time given me so far. It was as if I were standing in my house, hand on the door knob of my front door, looking back to see if all was in order before I locked the door and left for a very long trip.

I was pleased and comforted with some investments I had made in my life. I had been grateful to my mother and told her I loved her. Dick and I had done what was necessary to get our marriage on stable ground again. I had made career changes in order to spend time with the children. I knew that parents only have a little time to invest in them while they are children. No one knows how little time some may have. There was no one I had not forgiven and no one to whom I still needed to make things right. The relief was enormous.

Then, there were the regrets — wrongs against God and people. I was facing the eternal, and for all practical purposes, unknown. I was pressing against that thin membrane between this life and what would happen to me beyond. I knew better than to carry in a bundle of good deeds hoping they would outweigh the bad. What a futile concept.

Long before this day I had asked Jesus to forgive each act I regretted; he said his death paid for them. But I still felt a little vulnerable. I was afraid I may soon be entering his presence with only that as my ticket to the Good Place. Was it enough? Was it true? I leaned back on the homework I had done. The people that lived with Jesus wrote down his words when he said that his death was enough payment and that he forgave me when I asked. I believed what he said was true. So, I let it rest.

I lived on, however, with hands and legs paralyzed. I’m accomplishing my marriage and raising our children. I understand how swiftly life can be taken or dramatically changed. So, I keep my accounts short with God and other people. I ask forgiveness, and I forgive. And I tell those that mean something to me that they do. Tomorrow may not be mine.

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