My hands gripped the steering wheel, as the initial shock of the impact subsided. I watched a small crowd of curious bystanders gather on the sidewalk and heard a faint hissing sound from somewhere underneath my car. I was in a foreign country and had just been T-boned.
I’d maneuvered down this narrow lane hundreds of times. In a city of over two million residents, I had routinely chosen this road — barely wide enough to accommodate my small car — as my daily route. This former rice paddy trail afforded direct access to the international school where my daughters attended. Because it was one-way, this street remained less congested than others, an important factor considering the myriads of cars tangled in knots at other intersections.
At least I wasn’t the one who had run the stop sign. I had the right of way and had been driving the speed limit. It wasn’t my fault.
Or so I assumed.
A week or so later, we got the news: although both drivers had insurance, I would be responsible for my own repairs. The reasoning? It was 50% my fault. Why? “If the foreigner had been in her home country where she belonged, this wouldn’t have happened.”
I confess I was incensed. In fact, I expended weeks of emotional energy demanding privileges that were not actually mine by law. After I reluctantly paid the damages and my anger finally subsided, I realized that mandates from my home country weren’t a given in this adopted country. Foreigners living abroad did not always have the same rights as local residents.
Over twenty years after this incident, I’ve discovered there is only one passport whose legalities transcend all nationalities. Regarding of locale, holders of this citizenship have standardized legal sanctions. (What a relief to this bullheaded Texan!) Although I am a “stranger and alien” of this world, God has given His children rights to a Kingdom from which we cannot be shaken (Hebrews 11:13; John 1:12; Hebrews 12:28).
When I lived abroad, I wanted to exercise privileges I did not possess. If my rights were so important to me then, why do I not take advantage of the heavenly benefits afforded to me now? Why do I spend so little time familiarizing myself with my Kingdom rights?
The feisty widow in Jesus’ prayer parable knew her rights. “Give me legal protection from my opponent,” she demanded (Luke 18:3). Do I know what mine are?
Explore with me just a few of our Kingdom rights as children of the Most High.
These and so many more rights are ours as we embrace our heavenly citizenship. In fact as we read through our Kingdom “constitution,” we find that “as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes!” (2 Corinthians 1:20) Why then do we squander so great a prerogative?
What rights will you claim today?
My husband, Mark, has agreed to finish up my short series regarding our daughter’s accident. Pull up a chair as he walks you through this crisis from a male perspective. You’ll be glad you did.
“After the initial shock of the accident subsided, a new wave of terror came slamming into my world. What steps do I take now to maximize Hilary’s opportunity to recover? Conflicting diagnosis and confusing reports must yield to clarity of action. And that clarity of action needed to understand all available information. It was there, in the center of the crisis, where the clarity came. It was possible to act intentionally and, as needed, aggressively, because Peace surpassed my ability to compile, collate, and understand information.
“I told God what I wanted (Phil 4:6). I want the best available treatment by the best available doctor in the quickest available time. And while I wait I want no mistakes to be made that will impede Hilary’s path to recovery.
“The first answer was to move Hilary from an understaffed and outdated rural clinic to a well-staffed and medically updated urban hospital. The crazy hi-speed drive in a crude emergency vehicle to the hospital in Taichung was a big “no mistake” concern. The scar caused by the “ambulance’s” loose tire tool cutting into Hilary’s right ankle is a permanent souvenir of her joy ride.
“The decision to shave her temples and put her head and neck in traction was tough. I wept as they prepared her for the process. But until a long term solution could be found, we had to stabilize Hilary’s damaged spine. The grinding of the screws into the side of her head was painful, and the pain was constant the entire twelve days of traction.
Lesson learned: in order to endure suffering the future must be better than the present.
“As Hilary slowly gained feeling and use of her arms and leg , the traction was replaced by a neck brace. She could sit up in bed, although she still was confined to a bed pan. We all knew that for Hilary to ever go home, she would have to be able to function beyond that. Her first attempt to stand resulted in increased pain, dizziness, and vomiting. Then, she collapsed back onto the bed. It would be awhile before she attempted that again. As I stood over her and encouraged her to try again she looked into my eyes and replied, “Dad, I don’t know that I can really ever do it.” I was aware she was afraid she might fail again. And she had to address that on her own.
Lesson learned, in order to succeed, the hope must be greater than the fear.
“Once I finally gained access to medical records, I overnighted Hilary’s records to professionals in the U.S. Quickly, a leading neurosurgeon responded quite clearly that Hilary needed to have stabilizing surgery as bone fragments were perilously close to life-altering damage in her neck. By this time, Hilary was well into her final semester of her senior year.
“I asked if we could wait until graduation and keep her in a neck brace for another two months. “Spinal integrity is more essential than high school graduation”, was the reply. He was pretty clear that a minor jolt or misstep could pierce her spine. We quickly prepared Hilary for a trip to the U.S., wondering if she would return to Taiwan.
Lesson learned: the reward must be greater than the risk.
“Hilary would return and graduate with her class. But that is another story of its own.
“How about you? Are you risking present pain for future reward? Hope is greater than fear.
Mark and his two daughters – China Medical Hospital 2004
Friends around Hilary’s traction bed: (L to R), Sarah Cox, Becky Courson (behind), Rachel Kuhn, Steph Craker, Rachel Courson Swensen, and Jamie Torgerson Willett (kneeling by bed)
Park picture courtesy of Sara Jeng Grewer.