I can't brag about the things that have happened to me. No one can claim credit or shame for the cards God deals. I'm going to tell you simply to illustrate why I say all things are possible.
Why should I tell you? Many already know all things are possible. This is seen in daily miracles of our lives. To you I'm simply reminding you of and hopefully refreshing that eternal optimism which is the legacy of my own life's adventures.
And for those of you who doubt all things are possible? Read on.
At the age of 2, mom found me on top of the refrigerator, happily eating her prescription diet pills, which in those days were meth. I still remember my stomach getting pumped at the emergency room. Yuck!
At 3, I drowned in a neighbor's pool. Dad saw me first, floating face down in the deep end. I woke up on concrete, choking, surrounded by frightened children and adults as dad forced water from my lungs.
At 4, I tried showing dad a pretty bug. I don't blame him for slapping it out of my hand and yelling at me about black widows.
At 5, I jumped through three rings of lightning in the midst of a thunderstorm.
At 8, I was told I was going to go blind.
At 18, a thorough hippie, I stood on the football field of Beverly Hills High School, staring up at a huge skyscraper under construction, swearing I would never end up in a place like that. Ten years later, I was in my office in that same skyscraper, three-piece suit, well-groomed, gazing sightlessly back down at the spot where I had once stood looking up.
At 19, legally blind and soon to go totally blind, I bought a backpack, stuck out my thumb, and began hitchhiking around the U.S., Europe and Scandinavia for two years. On my 20th birthday, I was wintering in a cave in a remote mountain valley on an island off the coast of Africa, finally accepting the fact I was totally blind. Later that year I climbed a couple of mountains and some cliffs as part of my need to know whether blindness might actually get in my way.
Other notable events: graduating well from a top-10 U.S. law school; forming and successfully leading a political coalition to get two bills passed in Sacramento to benefit education for handicapped children; going gliding; sailing my own Hobi; being a YMCA Summer Camp counselor for 10 sighted 10-year-old boys; writing four novels; practicing law; judging in Small Claims Court; playing poker with my buddies; traveling all over; making music with others; getting embezzled; helping people in need; finally finding the woman of my dreams; and, far too many other things to remember now, but all in all, living, loving, hurting, seeking, learning and growing.
I am deeply grateful for my life, the good and the bad, and I live with eternal hope. Why? Why, because all things are possible, and because God never makes mistakes.
Believing in God helps tons. It's not faith. God didn't give me a choice.
Within three days of starting my hitchhiking, I was alone, lost and freezing to death in a foot of snow on a mountain in the Sierra Nevadas. There, I prayed for the second time in my life.
My first prayer was when I was 8 and had just found out I was going to go blind. I asked God not to make me blind. God answered with silence.
My second prayer? I asked Jesus Christ to be my lord and savior and to get me off the mountain.
Here's the important part — God never makes mistakes. God can't. To me, this truth is incredibly comforting.
What happened when I prayed the second time? A presence came. I couldn't see It, but I knew where it was, and it led me down the mountain. When I finally walked down out of the snow hours later, I realized two things — the presence was gone, and I was walking on the path.
Bruce Harrell is a writer, a semiretired lawyer and a judge pro tem in the Jackson County Circuit Court, Small Claims Division. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.