Until the ninth grade, I remained a pretty good kid. But that’s when my dad died. At first, I grew closer to God and prayed a lot. But slowly, my prayers turned to anger and hatred for God. I felt like He had taken something from me for no reason.
As my anger grew, I decided that if God could hurt me like this, I would do everything I could to hurt Him. So, I began basing my decisions on what would do just that. I still believed everything in the Bible; I still believed that Jesus is the only Way to the Father. But in my anger and foolishness, I told my friends that I didn’t want to spend an eternity with a God who would do that to me.
When I graduated high school, I became a full-time firefighter. That job and my other full-time job allowed me to move out of my parents’ house. That meant I no longer had to go to church and had money to live out my desires. My roommate was the only voice of reason in my life that I paid attention to — he was my best friend and a Christian. He didn’t preach at me, but he made it obvious that He lived for Jesus. I couldn’t help but notice his life seemed better. As my drinking and partying grew worse, our relationship grew strained.
The whole time I had an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t stand to be alone at night. When I had people around, I could avoid that feeling — or I took sleeping medicine so that I could just pass out and not have to face myself. I’m convinced this was God speaking to me, convicting me by giving me that sense of emptiness that I hated so much. That’s exactly what so many people were praying for me.
One night, while lying in bed, I realized that I had lost control. I had tried to stop smoking but couldn’t shake the pack-a-day habit. I had tried to stop drinking but couldn’t give it up. I no longer controlled my own life; my addictions controlled me.
As I lay in bed that night, I prayed for the first time in a long time. It started out as a normal prayer, “God I know its been a while. I'm sorry.” I knew what I wanted to pray, but something inside of me hesitated. I lay there for two or three minutes trying to decide if I really meant it or not. I decided that I did. The prayer went like this: “Lord, I know that I have built a life apart from You. It’s made of sin. I'm no longer controlling it. I can't stop doing these things alone, and I need your help. God, I pray that you would break me apart and put me back together the way You want me.” I didn’t really have a clue what I had asked for, but I remember being a little tense.
God, I pray that you would break me apart and put me back together the way You want me.
Less than a week after that prayer, I was riding my motorcycle one night with a group of about forty people. I was in the front of the group in the far lefthand lane behind an 18-wheeler when an SUV came over on me. To avoid being hit, I swerved into the emergency lane, but I couldn't see around the 18-wheeler. When I got to the emergency lane, there was an abandoned car there waiting on me. Witnesses say that I hit the car going between 70 and 80 mph. I went through the back window of the car, broke the front seats in half and landed on top of them.
I spent two weeks in a coma with multiple injuries. God had truly “broken me apart.” I had severe brain injuries, two breaks in my neck, one in my back, my entire face was shattered (after facial reconstructive surgery its now mostly made of metal); both of my lungs had collapsed; I had five broken ribs; my right hand was badly broken (now held together by titanium plates and screws); my left femur is now cement; my left knee has been reconstructed; everything under my left knee is now titanium; and the left side of my upper body was completely paralyzed.
The first four days of the coma, the doctors told my family that there was no way I would live. After that they told my family that I would live but that I would be blind in my left eye, paralyzed on my left side and have minimal brain activity. But God had other plans, very big plans. He was going to answer my whole prayer — not just to “break me apart,” but to “put me back together the way You want me” as well.
This whole time my family and friends prayed for me constantly. My mom had the elders of her church come to the ICU; they anointed me with oil and prayed over me. My mom said she knew that if I died I was going to hell, that the whole time I lay there she never prayed for my body, only my soul. She played worship music for me the whole time. I remember lying in bed one night, listening to that music and being comforted. I had noticed that when she played that music I felt more at peace. I prayed a silent prayer thanking Jesus for saving my life and not sending me to hell, what I knew I deserved, and asking for forgiveness for all of the sins that I had committed. I told Him that I would live in thanks to Him for the rest of my life.
My recovery was amazing, and everything happened faster than what anyone anticipated.
My recovery was amazing, and everything happened faster than what anyone anticipated. My wreck happened on March 13, 2008, and I went home from the hospital April 26, 2008, less than two months later! I was still in a wheelchair, and my left side was still paralyzed. But I was home. I soon began to walk, and a little over two months later, my left side began functioning again, more than doctors said would ever come back. On July 16, I went back to full-time duty at the fire department.
Since then, God has continually used men at Pinelake to disciple me and help me become more mature in my faith. I was constantly challenged to “say yes” to whatever opportunities God provided me, and I have seen God use those opportunities to change my life and the way that I view the world. Although I did not always feel adequately prepared, I began serving and leading in small capacities within our church, all while pastors guided and invested into me to help me grow in my ability to lead and invest into others. I want to stay around men who challenge me in my walk with Jesus, as well as seek other men who are looking for someone like me to help lead and challenge them in their own lives.
I would encourage all believers to find and learn from men or women who are spiritually more mature than you. And be the man or woman who leads others who are not as far along in their walk with Jesus as you.
— Aaron La Rue, Pinelake Reservoir