When I was in Melbourne in February, Robert – an ultra-marathon runner as you might remember (ultra, I understand, is any race double and more an ordinary marathon – mad fools!) – asked if we could go and pray for a running friend of his, Michelle. Michelle is super-fit, like me, of course(!), and as well as being a long-distance runner, is an avid cyclist – a fast one, not the sort that make me want to drive at them! It would be impolite of me to hazard a guess at Michelle’s age – but I’d imagine, at least Robert’s age (37), so not a ‘teenager’ who might ‘mend’ quicker….if mending quickly from the astonishing list of injuries she had, was possible anyway.
Michelle had been in a really serious accident. On a major road in Melbourne, at a busy time, she was on her bike when a car pulled out of a side-street in front of her. She went over the bonnet (hood) and landed very badly, breaking her neck. Doctors had said her recovery would be extremely long, and gave all sorts of other prognoses that many people, Christians included, would have taken ‘on board’, and – when you take diagnoses and prognoses as ‘gospel truth’ (because they’re spoken by doctors), invariably they become self-fulfilling.
I don’t think I’d be doing Michelle a disservice to say that she wasn’t then a ‘believer’ in God, BUT was very open to have Robert (whom she knew of course) and the unknown fat bald Pom, go to the house she shares with her great partner, to pray for her. She was out of hospital much quicker than the docs expected (!), with a very strong collar, plus one of those ‘funnel-like’ collars…. much pain because of the neck, and also because of lots of cuts and bruises. The prognosis, if I remember, was the collar for some months, then a load of traction, physio: likely scenario, a very long time before ultra-marathons again…. but even when we went, she was walking around, albeit slowly….
I’d hoped I might get to see her and Graham (I think? is her partner…) when I was in Melbourne in September, but it didn’t work out (next March will have to do!).
BUT….on October 3, Robert & I got this amazing letter from Michelle, via Facebook:
- Conversation started Thursday
Hi Rob and Paul,
I’ve been meaning to write to you both for ages to let you know what your visit did for me. But I don’t think I realised until today the true impact on my life of the accident and your visit.
Things have been happening in the last 7 months since the accident.
I apologise if Im rambling but I’ve just been out for a run, had a major breakthrough and my thoughts are running all over the place.
Firstly let me say I’m so very sorry to have missed seeing you this time Paul. Things just didn’t align for me.
But let me go back to when I first went back to work after the accident. I don’t think I’d ever really dwelt on how close to dying I was, nor had I thought much about why I might have been saved. However, after being back at work for about 2 weeks and finding I had a renewed love and appreciation for my job, I had a beautiful experience where a man who I had been looking after for a couple of days was going home the next day. He spoke hardly any English at all but we had muddled through. I went in to say goodbye to him as I was leaving for the night and he grabbed my hand with both of his and said thank you…..it was at that point I felt this overwhelming thought like someone was telling me “this is what I was saved for, to help make my patient’s lives just that little bit easier.’ It was a truly amazing feeling and I have carried that with me ever since. Without bragging, I seem to have a gift for being able to develop a rapport with my patients.
As time as gone by I’ve found every day that I might ask God, the universe, I don’t know who, for small things……a shift change that I need, help to understand a problem, to find something lost…..whatever it is, I seem to be recieving divine help on a daily basis. Am I making sense? (Paul – too right you are, Michelle!!!). Probably not, but what I’m trying to say is that I think you both, with your prayers and touch, opened up a whole new spiritual world for me and for that I thank you.
I find myself thanking God/the universe every day and for every small request that is granted, I make an effort to thank and acknowledge that I am being blessed.
I have to tell you a funny story……last weekend I was running in Adelaide, (7 months after a broken neck!), an event that was my goal from the time of my accident. I was having a ball, I felt great, running well and loving being alive. As I was belting down a particularly rocky descent I realised how good I felt and I thought it was a great time to tell God about my thankfulness. So I’m belting down thanking God for keeping me alive, for making me feel so good and for allowing me to comeback and run as well as I was…..when bang….over I went on my ankle….so now I’m yelling at God saying WTF, I was being grateful!!! But my anger was short lived and I was back smiling in no time.
Anyway, this is quite long winded so I’ll just finish by telling you the latest in this saga that is my life.
Yesterday I was with a solicitor who has seen 100’s of injuries like mine, and he essentially told me that he had never seen anybody who had recovered like I had. I didn’t really think much of it until today when I was out running and thinking about what he said and I realised that I have been truly blessed and saved, it was a very emotional feeling, I can’t explain it but the feeling of peace that settled on me was beautiful.
I truly believe that you both set me on a spiritual path that is a daily inspiration to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect, moody, grumpy, depressed sometimes, but slowly learning how much good there is in my life.
Before my accident I had been through some pretty tough times and some really dark places…….I now see the accident and broken neck, as a break with my previous life…….and a new beginning.
I have you two to thank for this. So thank you.
Wonderful…. Michelle, thank you so much for letting me put your story here. It’ll be on the ‘testimony’ tab, too (it gets lost very quickly as the blog keeps getting added to!
This Sunday, (I think it’s Sunday), Michelle is doing the Great ocean walk 100km trail race. the road Robert drove me down when I was in Melbourne. We drove, she’s doing it the hard way…. she’s nervous but exciting, right Michelle(??) and wondering if she’s ‘still got it’. I wrote a message to her today to say that God – when He’s involved (and he so clearly is in Michelle’s brilliant story), renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31) AND our youth (Psalm 103:5) – so, go flat out Michelle, YOU CAN DO IT!
Actually, Robert’s reply was brilliant, too: I’ve put his – and mine – here:
Thanks so much for sharing that. it was wonderful to read.
The universe/god has a name, Jesus. Talk to him what you’re saying is not at all crazy. When I am out running I share everything with him. Thanks, anger, joy, disappointment and hope. Also the darkest places of my mind. What’s even more crazy is he talks back. Forget everything you ever learned about god and religion and keep developing your relationship with him. He is so wonderful, he can’t be manipulated or flattered but he just loves so deeply and bypasses all my iniquities. I know he longs for you to call him your lord and saviour, but he will never force it, never manipulate you or trick you. He will just keep loving you as much as you will let him and hopes you will trust him with your life.
I think you have a far closer relationship with Jesus than most Christians do.
So totally NOT crazy, Michelle – and not rambling, either! I’m sorry we didn’t get to hook up – all being well if the Hall’s will have me (!!) I will be back in March, so maybe then. And Rob’s right – whatever that ‘entity’ is that you feel to talk to, thank, shout at (God/Jesus don’t mind being shouted at either!), and which is taking you on a pretty fast track to recognising that your life was saved for a purpose – is Jesus… he’ll talk back to you, believe me (and if that sounds crazy, ask Robert – he hears from Jesus a lot!)… Also I agree with Rob that you’re in a much deeper relationship with Jesus already than most ‘striving’ churchians get to in 60 years of pew-sitting religion. KISS….keep it simple stupid – most christians DON’T – and what you’ve got is both simple, profound, and far far deeper than you know! Stuff religion! Stuff many forms of ‘liturgy’ that people try and use as a formula to ‘get to God’ – you’re there, Michelle, and it’s brilliant, and it is a priliege to be part of it! Thank you so, so much for writing! Love, Paul