I gave a testimony to the kids at youth camp of how God has helped us through this difficult experience. I hope it encourages you. Steve
On Saturday, September 30, 2006, I got the worst phone call of my life. Actually, it was a phone message and not a live person. The caller identified themselves as a social worker at UPMC Presbyterian and said, “Ian Scott Murphy was in a very serious car accident. He’s currently in surgery, and it would be good for relatives to be down here. Please call…”
For a brief period following that phone call fear took hold. But, remarkably, that was the only time I’ve really been able to identify fear in my heart over the last 8 months since the accident. I know myself; no one could convince me that the peace I’ve experienced is anything but the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s transforming grace and the work of His sustaining grace. Over the years as a believer, fear and anxiety have been regular visitors, frequently overstaying their welcome. Don’t misunderstand. They have certainly been a temptation, and grief and weariness have taken turns standing on my chest.
Two days after the accident things looked grim. His brain functions were dying; at one point Ian’s body had failed 3 of the 5 tests for brain death. The doctors had suggested he had hours or perhaps days to live, so we signed the organ donor papers and called a funeral home. But, we were at peace with him going home to be with Christ.
The next day, a doctor we had never met appeared in his scrubs in the waiting room where we were waiting for the news of Ian’s departure into heaven. Unbelievably, this doctor told us that Ian seemed to have gotten over the hump. I said, “I didn’t even know there was a hump for him to get over.” It was so unbelievable we even questioned his credentials – out loud – and he was the medical director for the ICU!
So began a journey down a long, difficult road filled with treacherous twists and turns in Ian’s condition, a fog of grim opinions by the medical staff, and the sounds of our own temptations to fear and unbelief. Scripture says that His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The lamps the writers had in mind were oil lamps that literally only lit the few feet in front of them. I found that I had to just focus on the next step in front of me, even the next moment. Every day, it seems, I’ve prayed at some point during the day, “Lord, what do you want me to do next?”
Throughout this journey, I’ve recalled with gratitude so many examples of Ian’s faith and character and of our growing friendship. We’d had so many conversations about sin in his life and in mine and about the kindness of God; I’ve been so grateful for the times of genuine, biblical fellowship. I’ll never forget how grateful I felt when Ian came to me to ask me if I thought he was ready to pursue a relationship with a girl. He had someone in mind, and he came to me before he had approached her about his interest. When I asked why he was interested in this girl (whom I didn’t know), I was grateful to hear woven through his answer how important spiritual conviction and character was to him. Since the accident, I’ve gotten to know even more about Ian’s commitment to Christ as I’ve heard Larissa recount remarks he’d made to her and as I’ve observed her faith and character.
My relationship with Ian wasn’t always so good. Years ago, he wasn’t in a good place spiritually, and there were areas in my parenting where I was negligent. As a result, our relationship wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. There were many times when there was tension between us. I remember the night here at youth camp, though, when Ian came to me after a meeting filled with guilt over his many sins, and I knew the Holy Spirit was at work in his heart. The months and years that followed weren’t smooth sailing, but it was clear that the Holy Spirit was wrestling with him. Eventually, his repentance was genuine and thorough and so was mine. Gradually, as we talked a lot, things improved between us, and following the accident I felt the impact of that progress. I’ve been so grateful.
The biggest surprise on this journey has been the impact of the blog on the lives of so many people. In the beginning, almost 1,000 people a day visited the site. For decades, we’ve prayed for the salvation of so many people or just for opportunities to share the gospel, and the blog has opened up doors. So many who are unsaved have heard the message of the gospel. My son, Ben, said Ian might even have volunteered for this assignment if he had known how it would impact people.
This has been without question the hardest thing we’ve ever experienced. But, I believe the Lord will be faithful again just as he has been so many times in our lives. I believe he will show himself strong and God will be glorified.
Pray for Ian.