by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


An Abrupt Change of Plans

“Hey, wait a minute.  This happens to other people, not me!”  These thoughts were on Howie’s mind on a spring morning in 1981 following a cataclysmic event the night before.  Having just graduated from North Texas State University, he was making plans to move to southern California, close by his friend Ken, and get a job as a studio musician.  But a car got in his way!

Howie loved to jog and often ran at night.  On April 2nd, he started out about 8:30 p.m.  Crossing a street in front of the university, he didn’t notice an oncoming car until too late.  The car, traveling at 35 mph, hit him, hurled him across the hood and into the windshield and threw him 30 feet!
    He was rushed to the hospital with three fractures of his right leg and a contusion on the brain.  When he came to in the emergency room, he cried out, “I wish they would fix my leg.  It hurts!”  He stayed in the hospital for three weeks and had surgery on his broken leg.
    Even though Howie was suffering from the accident, good things started happening.  His mother flew in from New York a couple of days after the accident.  Friends from Denton Bible Church reached out to him.  Many visitors came to his hospital room, including 40 friends from church.  And after he was released and walking on crutches, his friend Larry offered to be his chauffeur.
    Howie still loved his trumpet, but decided to set aside his dreams of becoming a studio musician.  He knew it would take time to recover and wasn’t even sure he’d find work in California.  Pastor Tom had told him in the hospital, “I think it’s good you’re going to be in Denton longer so you can get more grounded in the Word.”  So Howie decided to embark on an in-depth study of Bible doctrine.  He also enrolled in computer classes while continuing to work at United Parcel Service.
    He was maturing in his faith, but Howie still frequently complained about his bad breaks and broken dreams.  His roommate Jeff got tired of hearing about it and challenged him by quoting Philippians 4:11—“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”  Feeling conviction, Howie decided to memorize and make this his life verse.  He accepted his accident and abrupt changes in plans.  He embarked on an intense Bible study which helped prepare him for various trials that would test his faith in the future.  And years later, he found more fulfillment in a unique trumpet ministry than he ever would have in a studio!

Trials often come into our lives unannounced, disrupting our plans and dreams.  We can view these hardships as stumbling blocks to fall over in bitterness and despair, or stepping stones to climb on to greater maturity.  The difference comes in believing God’s Word that promises, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Rather than complain, we should trust God to do what is best.  He can take the broken pieces of our lives and use them to mold something beautiful for His glory.

(song by William and Gloria Gaither)
© 1971 by William J. Gaither

Something beautiful, something good;
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife,
But He made something beautiful of my life.

For Those Who Hurt

You may be wondering why God allowed a particular trial to come into your life, causing pain and disrupting your dreams.  You may be tempted to complain and despair and let the trial drag you down.  But why destroy what you have with what you cannot control?  Choose to be content and let the Lord use this trial to bring you to greater maturity.  When you trust Him, He can take all your hurts and broken dreams and use them to build something beautiful out of your life.



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Chapter 1: Life-Changing Decisions Table of Contents Chapter 3: The Impact of Example