March 12, 2008

A Second Chance at Life

2008 1507 page28 capHIS IS MY MIRACLE GIRL!” EXCLAIMED Dr. Fischer as he lifted me from his lap in front of the Rotary Club members to whom he was speaking that noon hour. I was only 5 years old. And it was true, it was a miracle that I was alive and with him that day.
I can still remember that cigar smoke-filled room, with all those club members’ eyes focused on me. Even today the smell of cigar smoke brings back memories of Dr. Fischer, the doctor who had taken such good care of me during the year I was in Deaconess Hospital in Spokane. It took that long for me to recover from the intensive third- and fourth-degree burns I had incurred over half my body.
A Moment’s Carelessness
When my family moved from Ellensburg to Spokane, Washington, I was only 4 years old. We moved into a rented home where my brothers found an old kerosene stove in the woodshed. Just for the fun of it, with the help of some neighbor boys, they decided to cook some food on this stove. One of the boys went to find some kerosene, but not knowing the difference he got gasoline and poured it into the small tank. My sister and I joined the boys just as they lit the fire.
There was a big explosion. The wind was blowing and my thin dress caught on fire as I stood next to the stove. Soon I was engulfed in flames.
2008 1507 page28When my mother heard the commotion—the screaming, yelling, and the dog barking—she came running from the kitchen. Seeing me in flames, without a moment’s hesitation nor a thought for her own safety, she rushed to me.
“Oh, God, save my child!” she prayed as she desperately struggled to quench the flames. With her bare hands she somehow smothered the fire, suffering several burns herself in the process.
I still remember seeing the ambulance attendants in their dark uniforms working over me, and my ride in the ambulance with my mother beside me. I was not afraid, for I knew my godly mother was with me.
When the doctors saw me they held out little hope I would survive. Those were the days before antibiotics. The only treatment I remember getting was some kind of solution poured on gauze and applied to my whole body.
When my mother returned from the hospital, she called my brothers and sisters together, and what a prayer meeting they had! They asked God to spare my life. Mother refused to believe the doctors when they said that I couldn’t live. She knew God could do anything, for He had answered her prayer as she put out the fire. My mother promised God that she would dedicate me anew to Him if He would not let me die. He heard her prayers. God worked a miracle; He gave me a second chance at life.
The many months during my stay in the hospital seem blurred to me, but I remember how painful it was to have the bandages changed from time to time. When I could eventually use a wheelchair, I tried to hide from the doctors who changed those bandages. Dr. Fischer, feeling that pain with me, always brought me a gift of candy, gum, or something special.
After a year in the hospital I was released. Dr. Fischer arranged for me to return later to have surgery on the scars under my arm so I could raise it normally. Then when plastic surgery was first introduced in Spokane, Dr. Fischer arranged with a doctor friend to operate on some of my other scars. All my expenses were cared for, thanks to Dr. Fischer.
A Lifetime of Gratitude
Years later, when I was in nurses’ training, I visited Dr. Fischer, who, although quite old, continued to practice medicine. At that time, he gave me some black and white pictures of me and my scars he had kept all those years. After all, I was his “miracle girl.” He would never forget me, and I never would forget him.
In the years following my accident, when I looked at the scars on my mother’s hands, I realized how much she loved me; she would have given her own life to save me. How could I not love her and be grateful to her?
Jesus, too, carries scars on His hands. And because of those nail-pierced hands we all have a second chance at life—eternal life. How can we not love and trust Him?
When we get to heaven and see the many miracles God has worked in our lives—miracles we aren’t even aware of—we will bow before Him and sing with the heavenly choirs: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12, KJV).
Lillian R. Guild writes from Newbury Park, California.