I had an amazing wife, two incredible children, and was a successful small-town family doctor. It was the proverbial American Dream. But on May 3rd, 2012, my life - and that dream - was forever changed!
I was driving home from the local hardware store when I was hit by a full-size work truck that failed to stop at a flashing red light. This first impact resulted in my truck being pushed and wrapped around a concrete utility pole, with my head powerfully striking the pole on the second impact.
I nearly died at the scene but was extremely fortunate to be treated by a highly skilled and quick thinking paramedic who just so happened to be working in my town that day. After being stabilized, I was able to be transported by helicopter to a hospital in Chicago where I was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).
As is the case with anyone who suffers a TBI, my prognosis was unknown at first. But based on the sheer amount of damage done to my brain, the doctors were not optimistic about my recovery. They told my wife that if I was lucky enough to get better, I’d need to find what they called a “new normal.” They were essentially trying to say that if someone with a brain injury as severe as mine actually does recover, they would most likely be a completely different person.
Much to my doctor’s surprise, as well as most everyone else’s, I would start to improve in ways they’d never anticipated. I would even go on to return to my medical practice in just five short months, something they said was going to be nearly impossible.
I was and still am beyond thankful for this unexpected and rather miraculous recovery but it led me to believe I’d be back to my old self and old normal in no time. I thought my doctors had been wrong in their initial predictions.
But I soon figured out that despite my best efforts at getting back to who I used to be, it simply wasn’t going to happen. I realized what my doctors had been telling me was true. I would need to find this thing they’d been calling my “new normal!”
When I finally started to grasp the tremendous weight of this new reality, I became overwhelmed. I’d always been so sure of what lied ahead, but now everything was so unknown. I really had no idea what my future or what my “new normal” was going to look like.
All this uncertainty and confusion resulted in me becoming quite angry with God and I started asking him all kinds of questions:
”Why is all this happening to me?”
“What had I done to deserve this?”
“Hadn’t I been doing everything a Christian’s supposed to?”
“What are you even trying to teach me and couldn’t there have been an easier way?
During the same time I was starting to question God and His plans for my life, I begrudgingly agreed to join my wife at a “church” conference in Dallas, TX. I can remember when I was preparing to go and asking myself:
“Why do I need to go to a “church” conference?
“Don’t I already know everything there is to know about being a Christian?”
“How much more could there possibly be for me to learn about my Christian faith?”
Despite my negative attitude and lack of enthusiasm when I left, I heard something while I was at this conference that I’m now certain was the reason I’d went! It was where I was able to start seeing what God now had in store for my new life and what would become my new normal!
It happened one day when one of the speakers was discussing a verse from the book of Revelation.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16.
This wasn't an unfamiliar verse to me. It was one I'd heard plenty of times before. But this time something was different. I heard it in a brand new way.
You see, in the past, I'd just feel bad for all the lukewarm Christians who were getting “spit out” by God. I always thought of them as good people who really had no idea God felt that way about their behavior. I saw them as people who sincerely believed they were in good standing with God.
But when I heard the verse that day, instead of just feeling sorry for these lukewarm Christians, it was like God was speaking directly to me. He was making me aware and convicting me of my own "lukewarmness.”
It was a spiritual awakening that I never asked for and didn’t even know I needed. I started to see all the ways I’d been living as a lukewarm Christian and realized how I now had a second chance to live out my faith differently.
I felt like God had given me a second chance, another amazing and undeserved opportunity to let go of the pen and to start letting Him rewrite my story. And it’s a story I plan on telling for as long as I’m able and one I hope points people right back to Him!
*** You can learn much more about Jeff’s miraculous story in his new book, Finding Normal: An Uninvited Change, An Unexpected Outcome, now available to purchase at www.findingnormalbook.com.