He heard his neck snap just as he made the tackle. When the players unstacked, he was unable to move; and Van Johnson, 15, found himself permanently paralyzed. Van embraced Christ as Savior while flat on his back, and he began growing as a Christian. His spiritual progress was marked by several critical junctures. One of them occurred one day while Van, lying in bed, was struck by a hell-launched missile of depression and self-pity.
Anger raged within me in mighty waves. I felt I was drowning. I wanted to kick, to flail my arms, to scream. Tears of anger and pity began to pour from my eyes. “You can’t even wipe your tears away,” I told myself. I beat my head against the mattress. “Maybe this will cause me to fall out of bed,” I reasoned. “Then I’ll be on the floor where I want to be.”
Mom heard the commotion and came into my room to comfort me. “Van, what’s wrong?” I refused to look at her, listen or answer her. Completely exhausted, I just lay there.
Van’s rage faded into anguished guilt as he realized his pent-up anger and violent tantrum had been unwise, unhealthy, and dishonoring to God. The words of 1 John 1:9 came to my mind: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. … ” My prayer was this: “God, please forgive me for my stupidity. I have sinned against You through my anger and self-pity. I confess my sins to You.”
His sweet presence came to me, and I felt a renewed sense of peace. I felt clean, because I knew as far as Jesus was concerned, it was all over—He would remember the episode no more.
That experience taught me so much about life. I realized that the Christian never needs to stay discouraged or depressed, no matter the circumstances. From that day on, I determined within my heart that I would look away from my problems to see Jesus. This would be my choice.