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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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"...Choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices...Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable."
For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 28 November 2009 - 2:04pm. | | | |

My Peace I Give Unto You
Steven G. O'Dell © 2009

"...not as the world giveth...”
What you need may be far better than what you want.


It's the strangest feeling. One minute you are bracing for impact and knowing there is nothing you can do to avoid it and the next..., you are apparently unscathed and looking at the wreckage before you, spread across several lanes of highway. That's what happened to me.

The day was like any other, or so I thought. The routine was the same, anyway. I got up, showered, made and ate breakfast and then grabbed my bags to head to the airport. This was a flight I was looking forward to, unlike the others I made for the company -- all business and no pleasure. This time I was to spend two extra days enjoying myself at company expense in a fine hotel in Naples, Italy. Business is business, but pleasure...that's another thing altogether.

So there I was, making good time on the express and even singing to the radio for once, my mood unflappable in light of the treat that lay in wait at the other end of my flight. Italy, here I come!

That's when it happened. That's when it always happens -- when you least expect it, when you least want it, when it's least convenient or when it seems impossible. All I saw was this wall of tanker truck, jack-knifing in the road ahead of me. It all seemed to happen so fast. I checked the mirror to see what was behind me and wouldn't you know, it was another tanker truck, close on my bumper and waiting to pass when an opening allowed. Well, there was no opening now and I knew I was going to be part of some horrendous mechanical sandwich in the next few seconds. I braced and then led by some mysterious force, I relaxed and surrendered to fate, somehow at peace with myself and the world...and whatever fate lay in store for me. I remember thinking, 'I wonder if you can travel and still see the world when you are dead?' And then the skyline and everything but metal, fore and aft, was blocked out.

The sound was unlike anything I had ever heard in my life. You see and hear the car crashes portrayed on television or in movies, but the reality of it is so much different. Maybe it was the perspective of being right in the middle of it. It was horrendously loud, and not unlike some giant eating machine that you knew was going to chew you up and, if you were lucky, spit out some small piece of you for the coroner to examine and identify.

And then I was standing at the side of my crushed car and watching the wreckage of all the other vehicles that had piled up in the collision. There must have been dozens of them, all victims of poor judgment, bad timing, being in the wrong place at the wrong time or lack of attention. What I remember, too, is the strange lack of sound for a moment. If you've ever heard the phrase, 'the silence was deafening', this was one of those times that illustrated the principle. There was nothing for a long moment and then the crying, moaning and screaming began. It came from seemingly everywhere at once.

I ran to the nearest car and looked into the driver's compartment. A woman was screaming in a state of full hysteria. I tried to open the car door, but it would not budge, so I began to pound on the window and she paid no notice to me -- just kept screaming and crying. I then checked the drivers of other cars and tried to free them from their vehicles, also, but with the same result, being unable to pry the doors open or break any window sufficiently to remove it. Something didn't feel right about the whole thing. That's when the real shocker came.

A man had been able to step from his vehicle and walked in a daze toward me. I spoke to him, asking him if he was alright and suggesting he sit down and rest, as it appeared he might be bleeding from a few wounds to his head, face and chest. He hugged one arm and cradles it as if it were a baby in his care. I knew it must be broken. The man just ignored me and walked right through me. Through me! I didn't believe it at first, thinking I must be delirious and that this was some effect of the tremendous trauma I had just experienced. I staggered away and stood beside the road's edge, in stunned silence for a moment. And then a man spoke to me, calling me by name.

"Chris, I want you to sit down. Can you do that for me, please?"

I stared at him blankly for a moment and then, gathering my wits, asked him how he knew my name. He again asked me to sit, so I complied and fell back unceremoniously into the grass along the highway's edge.

"You've been hurt terribly and I am going to give you a priesthood blessing. I want you to sit here for a moment while I do."

'He is a member of the Church', I recall thinking. Then he stood, walked a few paces to the nearest vehicle and began to tear open the rumpled door with his bare hands. Even in my stunned state, I knew this was not something an ordinary man could do. I was no wimp, but I could never have done such a thing myself. Who was this man?

I suddenly recognized the car as my own. It was now a significantly shorter version, from front to back, but it was definitely the one I had been driving. What was he doing? He was reaching into the car and placing his hands on someones' head. But, who? No one had been in the car with me.

And then I could hear his voice, as if it were in my ears directly.

"Christopher James Paxton, in the name of Jesus Christ and by authority of His holy Priesthood, I command you to live and remain at peace until medical help can arrive. You will have the best of medical attention and your healing will be in the hands of the Lord. Trust and be at peace in God."

Suddenly and without warning, I was in my car, looking across the crumpled dashboard, through the shattered windshield and at the wall of metal that lay before me. I could feel warmth running down my face and my chest was a bit numb. My legs would not move. And yet, somehow I felt peaceful. Trying to turn my head, I caught a glimpse of the same man, now apparently giving a blessing to another person lieing nearby on the pavement. Who was he? How did he know my name?


A full five years later, I look back and have to thank God for the blessing that man gave me. I am still stunned, but not by the events of that day. I am stunned by the subsequent events that came about as a result of that day. Things would have been so different if none of those terrible things had taken place.

As a result of my accident, in which I lost my legs and had major facial and cranial reconstruction, I was later flown to, of all places, Italy, to enter a special study and treatment program to accelerate healing without scarring. Not to Naples, but better. Naples can come later. I was flown directly to the place that I would never have gone to on my own or on the company dime. I was led directly to the woman I would marry and take to the temple. She was part of the staff who treated me for the scarring from my injuries. In fact, she was the lead individual and the initial discoverer of the new treatment method, which would soon become standard procedure around the world. I got to teach her about my faith and she took to it like a duck to water, asking questions incessantly.

As an added bonus, several others on the staff said they would also arrange to be taught by the missionaries at the first possible opportunity. I guess there was something in the peace they could read in my soul that made them see something they wanted for themselves.

Today, I walk with no apparent difficulty, just as you would. Today there is no visible scarring to any but the most trained eye. And today I have the love of my life beside me and our second child on the way. More importantly, I have the peace of the Lord; a peace that only God can grant in a world such as ours. And I have faith that cannot be shaken, that God provides for us in the time of our crisis,...according to our needs, if not according to our wants.

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