'After the accident, I began to seek God more seriously'
Rosemary’s story | Unexpected seizures and a deepening prayer life
“I’ve always been skittish, ruled by my emotions. I tend to burn the candle at both ends, jumping into things, saying yes to everything, without thinking. There’s no doubt I believed in Jesus as a young person. But early on, I wasn’t fully committed. I did things in my own strength. I had one foot in the world. I didn’t understand what it meant to keep close to God, to surrender.
In my first year out of university, I was teaching physical education in an industrial town north of Adelaide, in the middle of nowhere. One weekend, I drove a student to hockey trials back in Adelaide and I had a massive head-on collision. The other driver was on the wrong side of the road, drunk.
I had lots of injuries. I was taken to the local hospital, unconscious. I remember at the time I was admitted, I had an event – a strong sense that I was falling down a well, tumbling and I couldn’t return. It was really dark. When I came to consciousness, I was in the hospital bed … and I remember making a bargain with God. If he saved me, I would commit to him fully.
Often we say those things to God, but we don’t get there straight away. My hand developed gangrene. My jaw was broken and my eye was caught in fractured bone in the eye socket. My entire face was lacerated and swollen, covered in blood and glass. My parents didn’t recognise me. I was taken to Royal Adelaide Hospital, which saved my life. There were two top surgeons available, including a well-known facial reconstructive surgeon. I had the best attention. I stayed in hospital for two months and then I kept having hand operations for two years – plastic knuckles put in and my hands wired straight. I lost 60 per cent usage of one hand.
It changed me. I began to seek God more seriously. But then later, I began having seizures all of the time. They said I’d also had a brain injury in the accident. From then on, if I stayed up late at night, burning the candle at both ends, I would have a seizure. For the first time in my life, I really had to change my habits. I had to become self-disciplined, which I’d never been before. It took a long time. It was a process. But the key thing that happened was in my late 40s. I was asked to take on a serious role of Bible teaching and training women. It required 18 hours a week of studying and teaching the Bible, as well as numerous trips overseas for training. I had to really trust God. For the first time, I had to become regular with my Bible study and prayer during the day, rather than all over the place, late at night. It deepened my prayer times. I’m so thankful. I think it was God’s way of keeping me close to him, listening to him. I didn’t have much choice. For the first time, the boundary lines were changing for me. Where would I be without them?
The scripture that God used for me was when Paul spoke about his thorn, although I don’t equate myself with Paul! Paul said to keep him from becoming conceited, he was given a thorn in his flesh. For me, it was to keep me walking closely with the Lord. I know that God kept me close to him because of the seizures. On a few occasions, I did ask the Lord to take them away, and sometimes I’ve fought against them. But the Lord has said to me, ‘Rosemary, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness … and it will keep you close to me.’
It’s now been 30 years since I took on that ministry role and I’m still involved in it. Those prayer times have set the pattern for my whole life, to this day. In God’s faithfulness and mercy, he has kept the fire burning in me.”
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
Rosemary’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.