Sixteen years ago today, I sustained 2 gunshot wounds that left me with broken bones and shattered nerves. It was the price I have to pay to get out of a vicious relationship that drained my spirit. It was a near-death experience but God spared my life.
In celebration of my 16th AnniBIRTHsary (a term coined by my dear friend Cheryl Marie Cristobal-Cipriano), I declare the selected verses from Psalm 18 with overflowing gratitude to God:
1 I love you, LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
6 In my distress I called to the LORD;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
28 You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
29 With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall
30 As for God, his way is perfect:
The LORD’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
It was on November 1, 1995 when a six-inch steel and five screws were installed by Dr. Mario Dideles in my left leg to reconnect the damaged fibula and tibula. Had I not survived the ordeal, I would have been in the grave 16 years ago.
A lot of things have happened since my near-death experience. God has intricately woven my life into the lives of interesting people who became my friends and mentors, enriching my life in awe-inspiring ways. With them, I have discovered fresh perspectives and seized countless opportunities. My loved ones challenged me to embark into an exciting journey of learning, relearning and unlearning. My accountability partners challenged me to take bold steps of faith. I cultivated my relationship with God as I surrendered to Him my life. I eventually got married to a loving man who brings out the best in me. In the process, I realized that “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you.”
The traces of the operation are still evident to this day even with tubes of Contractubex ointment. However, I do not refer to them as scars – they are my Marks of Grace. They serve as reminders of how God’s Amazing Grace has beautifully saved me and how His Unfailing Love has healed me.
Dear readers, take this moment with me to look back and recognize how God has engineered our circumstances. His plans for us are to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a future and a hope. The good news is: God is not yet done with us. We are His wondrous works in progress. Keep believing that greater things are yet to come in and through our lives.
As you look at your own marks of grace, remember this: God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways. The Creator of heaven and earth is able to do exceedingly, abundantly – far above we can ever ask or imagine!