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Journeying From Tragedy to Triumph

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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March 3, 2021 5:00 am

Journeying From Tragedy to Triumph

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 3, 2021 5:00 am

Offering hope to those discouraged by life's struggles, Bryan Koch describes how his faith in God helped him work through the devastating loss of his wife, and his own left leg, in a motorcycle accident, and enabled him to forgive the drunk driver who caused it.

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Just visit focus planned was my last day or so on to lose their mom and under no same-day numbers are days. This is Focus on the Family and today, you'll hear how that man Brian Cochran survived a terrible accident that the life of his wife, John Fuller and your hostess focus Pres. and author Jim Daly John, I always find it encouraging to hear how the Lord can redeem any situation if we're walking with him and today will hear how a pastor and father of three was able to survive a terrible accident and also forgive the person who caused it, even though as you said, his wife, Lynn tragically died that day. Pastor Brian has been in ministry for over 25 years and is the lead pastor of GT church in Reading Pennsylvania. He was a minor league baseball player. In his younger days, and in this presentation, you'll hear refer to a Louisville slugger baseball bat which is using to illustrate some of his points here now is pastor Brian Cook speaking at the Washington County prayer breakfast in Pennsylvania on today's episode of Focus on the Family to share my story with you today from Saul 37 read a couple verses and it really kind of speaks to the life of my story. Psalm 37 versus 23 and 24 years was the Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Just think about that every detail, not 75%, not three quarters every detail of our life. Though they stumble, they will never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand really good so it's a little bit my story. I'm all right you know that sometimes in life.

It's okay. Just be okay. Sometimes in the Christian world is like.

Praise God hallelujah you know miracle llama always wonderful. No were not always wonderful. How many have a bad day. Sometimes some of you have hair, have a bad hair day.

I never have a bad hair day ever.

It's amazing now have a bad leg day right my leg little sore. Whatever's you know, ladies. We wear those shoes all day long.

They're beautiful like oh I can't wait to get the shoes off. I sometimes say just I can't wait to get my leg off you give that some thought, but it's okay. It's all right to be okay. We have God in your life no matter what you're going through your to be all right.

There's a better life coming there something more coming in our life. And so when I read that verse.

Psalm 37 verse 23 the Lord directs his steps of the godly I can be all right today because God directs every step I take right now I wait to see this Louisville slugger when I play ball. You get a couple cases of these to start the season. I will using this Louisville slugger is about. That's part of my story.

In fact, for so much my life.

This was all my story.

I wasn't a good student, I really spend a lot of time studying all that was amazing with the high school for years never had the homework amazing. I'm sorry to the teachers my table. I had no work. I just didn't do it right, but I love to play baseball and so I went to Milner high school on Berks County and Windsor school did just enough to stay.

You know legal to play baseball but again I unfortunately and I I did drugs. I drank alcohol. I chewed tobacco I dip snuff. I did a lot of the things that were affecting my body in a negative way. And it wasn't just social drinking. I drank to get drunk.

I was kind of a binge drinker is a high school student so III was far from God and so 1981 I walked to the library, which I didn't do often in our school. There is a cute girl there.

I thought maybe I'll study a little bit today I sat there with this young girl only was she attractive, but she was a Christian she started talking to me about God or dad make a long story short, her dad said, look, you can go anywhere.

Their daughter eats they were teachers at my school and they knew me okay they knew Brian Kuck.

They knew what I did and they saw my skull ring in my back pocket. They knew I did things I should do.

He said Brian the only place you can never go with our daughter is the church hello she's really cute. I guess I'll go to church I went to church. I was in a Tuesday night, long story, but I had not been met. Like a set I very seldom went to church, but man like I was preaching the gospel that day. He was an older gentleman and he does talk about the fact I thought, hey, I thought American. I'm going to heaven. American everybody goes to heaven and ask him or her to write using baseball loaded people with this limited to heaven if you don't know God you're not going to have as a matter of your church member this or that. You know he's all the good person know none of us are really good. The Bible says there is none righteous, no not one.

Wilson thought word and deed on everyone. We need the grace of God commanding the service went on on on things while she's cute but I don't know maybe I should've done this and you know they're singing a song and I'm starting to sweat little bit I'm convicted.

I didn't know what conviction was Singing that song he gave the altar call a long story short, I came to the altar and that night I gave my heart life to Jesus Christ Tuesday night.

I didn't first Corinthians. I do know what that was all that was first Carnation Malachi was Mallozzi. I know Mark Matthew Mark Luke and John. We had a big Bible in our house like a piece of furniture. My mom would just usually was like bicep work out this open the Bible, I came home that night Tuesday night but 11 o'clock on a school night concrete in the house as I did that before go to flip the light and don't know why you are a construction rifle.

Tell me why they put that little switch there the sink.

You think it's a light and is the garbage disposal. My mom gets up she says Brian Cox, where were you said mom I was at church she signed and ask you one more time you will feature data said mom I was at church and I said tonight. I don't understand.

I said, but I gave my life to God tonight. Never forget my mom grew up in North Carolina. She went to Baptist Church as a kid walked away from God. Married my dad who knew nothing about God. She dropped to her knees that night in our kitchen floor and hug me around my knees that I try to give you everything is a mother.

She loved cooking bacon. She was a loving mother but she said I didn't give you what was most important.

I haven't given you God that night my mom recommitted her life to God in the kitchen floor at 11 o'clock at night. I would say something God guides every step of our life, even when we don't even know is involved in her life so years go by, you think about life again. I was born May 23, 1964. If you think about life just like this line. There's things that happened above the line below the line right that night Tuesday night that was above Alina came to know God.

Next year I was going try to graduate high school 1982 I got I did. I was above the line.

I do know if I would. I was all set to go to Arizona State to play baseball. I graduated on a Thursday night.

Friday was the MLB draft so I was sitting by the phone a couple teams. The Cardinals Toronto Blue Jays couple teams to talk to me about maybe playing with good high school teams with the state final every year and phone didn't ring didn't ring at 11 o'clock.

The phone rings Chicago White Sox called my house said Brian you know you were drafted today.

Congratulations if you want to be Chicago White Sox. We can flying tomorrow and we can sign your contract so graduate on Thursday drafted on Friday. On Saturday I signed my contract.

My dad was my agent.

I wouldn't recommend that necessarily I signed the dotted line. Monday I was in spring training. I played 3 1/2 years and to show you how God directs every step I was a catcher right so plan one night up in New York in the minor leagues and kid hit a home run off of us. In the fourth inning and you know many times is called the Dean ball you do that coming out of the mullahs so I'm managers in the dugout.

He's looking over doing the signs, no years, you know, whatever.

And all the stuff and I look over and he's just going like this is wiggling us up. I was assigned for the beam but will now I two seconds to make a decision.

I'm a Christian I'm trying to live for God. I'm trying to make it to the major league some young kid. I decide my go to give. I was in that same signal to the picture we were going to hit this could intentionally lie decided not to do, like a fastball inside so we can hit him manager runs of the got you how they come out.

They have the meeting on the mound and put the glove over the mouthpiece you shut the glove in his mouth.

He was cursing and carrying on. I told you to do that, we went next pitch kid is hitting and we had a broken finger of his ring finger in his glove hand that ended the season for the year were near the end of the year so I came up three innings later I was a lefty so I'm not hitting and another to retaliate. This young kid through a 90 mound are fastball behind my head. None of my hip. None of my back through it here and I know you're not used to like leaning forward, I leaned back the ball ran up on my helmet and hit me in the face just about knocked my left eye out of my head. So, I'm 95% blind in my left eye and I really thought I was going be the end of my know I took two steps my head hit home plate. I laid there took me to the hospital. They flew me to Chicago.

The team doctor worked on me and he said Brian out of the hotel you this, we said you're never going to play again. It's hard enough to the baseball to eyes. You're never going to have your my macula was destroyed in my retina just I have totally like black vision just about my left eye. God doesn't always fix things in her life even fix it for Jeremiah or Isaiah you can fix it for Joseph or John the Baptist coming of Jesus Christ died on the cross.

Persons, God is always fix stuffer like he's miraculous. He can do it and I talk to people.

Now the time and they're saying, you know, I don't get this. You know your preacher. You talk about God doing miracles or whatever.

Where's the miracle is that the miracle is I'm talking to you miracles. I still know what my name is I should be alive. But God did fix my calling. The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. He delights in every detail of think of all the details of our life. We think of.

Just think of all the people in here all the details of the Bible says that God delights in every detail of her life so my hobby Esther from climate was a kid I go to North Carolina. My mom, my dad, I learned to ride motorcycles. I rode motorcycles in the time I was like 11 years old so that's what my wife and I love to do. We love to ride motorcycle. We talk on the bike and go, and she had her license woodlot timesheet hop in the back and we take a ride.

I get my Harley-Davidson we go this week. We didn't probably 10,000 miles a year. We just really enjoyed it.

And again I felt like the wind blowing through my hair you want to be a distance is the really cool thing is, this is nice so June 7 there was a detail my life it was going to be below the line it was that day. We had first responder Sunday. So in our church we were honoring all the policeman fire EMTs 911 operators we just were same at think what our community would be like if we didn't have first responders. We need to pray for them that serve that way they they do the toughest things in society and they very seldom get credit.

They often just get whatever is it we really need to pray for those who respond or committees that way. So we did that. That day, and later that afternoon, I had no idea we had probably 3540 first responders in our church that day detectives. Whatever. Little did I know that many of them would show up in my accident that night my wife and I after the day which is hey want to take a ride. We went up to Lancaster only. No Amish country. We passed some horse and buggies and we decided it was a beautiful day work. Have a great time.

We were going to be empty-nesters and empty-nesters.

There's one word for empty-nesters you notice. Yes, my wife wasn't that excited. She was sad you know just a guy thing. I guess whatever, but we had a great day were driving home on the motorcycle. Beautiful day. Less than a mile from our house in a really bad turn I take it that turned 10,000 times like this interested if you're the double yellow or whatever someone's mess with her phone or even the radio or whatever you and so I would.

I was tight on the white line. We took it down where get ready to go home and that's a the very spot we passed a drunk driver. Talk about addiction addictions affected my life.

The young men started drinking at 11 o'clock that day was addicted to prescription drugs as well.

He came up over that turned what was a blind turn a really bad turn state has been sued several times for the road he hit us head on with that SUB my dear wife, you know that's the saddest thing ever lost my left my leg my eyes but I lost the wedding ring off my left hand is that they my wife was instantly killed.

Her neck snap. She was dead. The mill, the police only said Brian.

One thing she did suffer one second she was instantly in the presence of Jesus Christ.

My leg was nearly amputated at the site they thought was gonna fall off and they put me on the stretcher crushed both my hips, my pelvis. They had to cut me open almost right there at the scene Taconic to save my life. I died twice and came back they finally put me under.

I was in a medicated coma for 51 days I had 19 surgeries.

My leg was so messed up they never thought I'd even wear a prosthetic leg date so my boys. If he does live which we don't know that he will probably be in a wheelchair.

The rest of his life.

That was a tough day that was a tough detail in my life. I never forget waking up 51 days later as a pastor. I've done hundreds of funerals hundreds of funerals. Little did I know that I would miss my own wife's funeral.

My wife was dead. The barrier they tried to wait so I would wake up, but the gist was too long so they buried her and I'll never forget waking up and those of you that are chaplains you would understand this date was medicated all different kinds of things and they said if you don't want to be the one that tells Brian about his leg and about his wife and just change the subject and I woke up there was a guy would come in every day you talk about marketplace ministries. There were guys that ran businesses that every day before they go to work would come in my hospital room and pray for me so I woke up started waking up one day and was a guy from our staff that was there and I just recognize the greatness of what you doing here. He said what we love you so all of you to members who are here writing the world was. I said that were slid. He said you want a cup of coffee yeah I'd love a cup of coffee, but an hour later my sister-in-law came in and I said where is Linda. So what's going on somewhere in my she said Brian is dead. You are really bad accident you hit head on. She said you lost your left leg. I will never forget laying in that bed and putting my hand down along my left leg and there was no need Was just my thigh there night I guy was devastating.

That was a detail my life I wish would've never happened was hard to my boys, the church mean the church begin to pray. I know many around the world.

Pray for me that day and I I do thank God for that. She delights in every detail of their lives. The last part of the verse is this, though they stumble, they will never fall. The Lord holds them by my hand. So now I wait to think this Louisville slugger.

Not as a bat is a set of handlebars, but I want to think of it as a cane lacks.

Think of the heel can't you ever think about walking. I think now that every step I take.

We can be all right because God designs every detail of her life. He designs every detail of her life I will never forget. I do know my leg didn't know if I can get a prosthetic leg. They call me. I went down I got measure they didn't know she called me. She said will they did decide that I could wear my leg so this was, I was hit in June.

This is two weeks before Christmas and I'm get my leg affect them in rehab. Learning how to use it and she said all prying guy come down. She says your leg is and she goes your kneecap is beautiful. I always asked where I speak, they've ever been told your kneecap is beautiful. I don't know who would think that was a compliment but I guess when you pay 65 grand for your kneecap. It ought to be beautiful to send email to make coffee out of brush my teeth at night. Some learned to use this leg trying to take my steps to take God. God is faithful.

There was a time when I never thought I would be doing what I'm doing today. I thought to be stuck in a wheelchair when I heard the story, I thought know what I could've been having with my wife, but God wasn't finished with me yet God has a purpose for you is a purpose for your business, your career, your politician, the ministry whatever you're doing in this room. God has a plan for your life and I know you know that I'm in a close with this. I just got my leg I'd gone back to church. I was start to preach. I was using a walker and then I got my leg and we had our Christmas services. We have about six or seven Christmas Eve services the week before that the young man who hit me in Bucks County. It's called DUI Thursday and for about four or five hours, its lawyers, politicians, you name it, no matter what you do stay home mom get out.

They there arrested for DUI. In our case was gonna be the last case because the media got all involved and they wanted to know this and that, in fact, the media grabbed me and said Brian you know I had uncles, I've uncles a don't know God, and they were like how the world we could do and I sublimed and I I need to forgive. Forgive them I said we only forgiveness wasn't easy on the number that day. I'm in the courtroom sitting there the first time of ever seen this guy face-to-face, so the judge sits to my left here in this little chair and you look at him and the guy, the young kid that did this to us was sitting about 6 feet from me and I suggest talk about was his last day in the court. 30 some years, and the court was his last hearing ever sick and I look at him just let you listen rather than looking you let him listen.

He said yeah so I look this young man right in the eye and only by God's grace and help. I talked to him about the power choices we make our own choices, but someday our choices are to make us. I talked to him and I said I don't know how many years you're going to get you fell on the mercy of the court they were going after him is going to be one of the largest DUI case in Berks County.

They were going for this kid for 20 years. We were the second family getting Kelly by the first time he could got three years he got three days and I said I don't know how many years are going to get what I want to say this, I said, I've been given a life sentence, but you would live the rest of my life without my wife, my three boys are never going to have their mama grandkids are never going to have their grandma.

I said that's the power of choice and I said I want to say to you, young man.

I think that you also have a choice. I hope you do find God because my sons and my sister-in-law's.

We made a choice. We forgive you easy know, but we do forgive you. When I drank as a young kid I could've easily done to somebody else.

What he did to make were no better than anybody else. I'm just one beggar helping other beggars were to find the bread for word for God, we'd all be lost. But I said I forgive you and I want to close with this this prayer breakfast coming of God can give you freedom like none other people and don't forgive and I'll never forget that person listened unluckily the rest of my life in pain and agony.

I'm to give this guy to God and saying you know what Lord I truly forgive him I'll say this, it's really amazing to understand forgiveness. I remember that night on a Tuesday night when the guys preach and I didn't think I was in the center. I didn't think I was. I thought I'm a nice guy thought what I thought was God's getaway. The good in my life and the bad, and I'm sure the goods can outweigh the bad knees and let me that's not the way it works about us is none of us are good role centers so I understand forgiveness. It's one thing it's a amazing thing to receive. Forgive that change my life. I went home that night. I didn't understand at all, but that night my life was changed. That's what God does would say sometimes it's really hard to give. It was hard to forgive that kid and we don't forgive and forget.

I wake up every day, put my leg on. I'll always remember what that young men did to my wife and me. I really am praying that someday this is young families that committed suicide.

His story is really tough if you come to our church two weeks before that I said to my love to meet you in our church rather meet you on that bed.

What I want to do right now. Discussed everyone about your close your eyes to close. Father, I thank you for today, I thank you that I'm still living. Another day I thank you for your grace protection and I need your grace and so I pray God that you would cleanse us in this room that you would wash away every sin and God that not only would you forgive arson but that you would help us to forgive others, those who sinned against us. Thank you for in Jesus name Amen Douglas, what a message from Pastor Brian Cook for sizing the need for true forgiveness on today's episode of Focus on the Family. While John, I can imagine forgiving the drunk driver who killed my wife.

But as Pastor Brian pointed out, it's the only way forward is a Christian.

Unforgiveness is a terrible burden to bear. As they say unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It doesn't hurt them.

It only hurt you. In fact Jesus said if you refuse to forgive others, your heavenly father will not forgive your sins. And that's in Matthew chapter 6 verse 15 and I don't know about you, John. But that scares me. I have plenty of sins that need forgiveness, big and small whether there are very few moments that I'm not aware of my own need for God's forgiveness every day. That's right, then let me remind you listening today. If you're struggling with unforgiveness in a please give us a call and asked for a call back from one of our caring Christian counselors. It's a free service that were able to provide. Thanks to donors like you and there's no obligation here. It all just call 880 family 800-232-6459 and asked to connect with one of her counselors. Here's the rest of the story. Pastor Brian told us that the young man who caused the accident was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison, but he has appealed that decision and as Brian said this man only serve three days in jail for his first drinking and driving accident which impacted another family so we can pray that justice will be served for Brian and his family and that this young man will never drink and drive. Again, it's really difficult to comprehend how hard it must've been for those three boys of Bryan's to lose their mother and almost lose their dad on the same day. How traumatic. That must've been yeah and that kind of major life event is just one example of why we offer counseling services free of charge.

There's a lot of hurting folks out there and our counseling team receives over 2000 requests per month from people who need help with the marriage, parenting or family issue and we couldn't provide that service without the help of our donors. So let me remind you, the Focus on the Family need your partnership were in this together. And when you make a donation of any amount. I'll send you the CD of today's message from Pastor Brian as our way of saying thank you. You can be a part of the many good things that God is doing through us here at Focus on the Family. Just call 800 the letter a in the word family or donate online and request your CD. The link is in the episode notes that CD would definitely make a great conversation starter for teens and young adults can listen along and then that'll really remind the serious consequences of drinking and driving, on behalf of Jim Daly in the entire team. Thanks for listening to this Focus on the Family podcast.

Please take a moment and give us a rating and sure about this episode with a friend. Thanks in advance for doing I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time. As we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ

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