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Julie Peyton wrote this story. We read it (along with works by Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, and others) as part of a "Spirituality in Short Fiction" class. This class met June 16, 2004.

A Short Story

I need to tell you about the miracle. Now, each of those words was chosen carefully and with deliberate and prayerful thought. You need to hear about my miracle. Ditto.

But first, I must explain a few things about myself. I'm not special! [Polite laughter] Honest. I was born into a good family, with faithful parents and 3 wonderful older brothers. Well, OK, they weren't THAT wonderful! [more laughter], but they were good brothers.

Oddly, given the times, I was the athlete among the siblings. My brothers were a musician, a mechanic, and a lifelong student, in that order. But I played basketball. I lived for basketball. I ate, slept, and breathed basketball, much to my mother's dismay. She wasn't sure that girls should do sports; she worried about my chances for becoming a contented wife and mother. All I worried about was beating my brothers at "horse" and nailing 3-pointers above the outstretched hands of the neighborhood boys. Well, that's all you need to know until my junior year of college.

So fast forward a few years. I'd received a basketball scholarship, a full ride at the state university. I was doing well. And I was still faithful: I got to church every Sunday that there wasn't an away game or tournament, even started a Bible study with some of the other players. Ever watched CHARIOTS OF FIRE? Remember when Eric Liddel explains to his sister why he is going to the Olympics rather than to China as a missionary: "When I run, I feel His pleasure." I understood that deeply.

The disaster struck at an away game, where I was expected to be a starting forward. During a routine warm-up drill, I landed on a teammate's foot, and fell. I fell hard. Even before I hit the floor, I heard and felt that terrible popping sound in my knee. I don't remember much of the next few hours, which were a blur of concerned faces, a car ride to the emergency room, and way too much pain. What I can still hear, even today when I close my eyes and remember, is the merciless voice of a weary emergency room doctor saying something to my coach about a torn ligament. I had never paid much attention in my biology class, and wasn't sure what an "anterior crush hate" ligament was except that it must be somewhere under those ice packs on my knee.

If the doc's words raised a question, the look on my coach's face provided my answer: I wasn't going to be playing any games any time soon, unless the game was Parcheesi or Scrabble.

I wonder how I can impress upon you what that means. To lose a dream that is so clearly in your sight, that is so close... [long pause]

Well, it goes without saying that right then and there I started praying, and praying hard. I'm sure some of you have been there, right? [a few "yeses"] But that's just the kind of needy time when God can get through, right? [more "yeses"] When I got home that night I called my church, I called my family, and I e-mailed my entire address book and asked them to pray a miracle. The surgery was scheduled a few weeks out, so there was plenty of time to pray up some faith and healing.

The surgery was a bust. Well, they told me it went "well" but that my knee would never be what it had been. They told me I'd need LOTS of physical therapy before I could walk without a limp. They told me lots of things, but I wasn't listening. I was expecting a miracle.

Well, I could drone on here, and tell you every detail of the next four weeks, including the number of little holes in your average ceiling tile in the hospital room [laughter], but I suspect you want me to cut to the chase, to the reason we are all here this afternoon. YOU want to hear What Happened. OK. I'll tell you.

Just four weeks to the day from the accident, I woke up in the night, feeling strange. There was enough light in my room that I could tell I was alone, except for my roommate who was snoring softly. I felt a warm tingle around my knee. I sat up a bit, looked, and could almost swear I saw an aura, a gentle glow coming from the bandages themselves. And I heard a voice, not out loud, more like something speaking directly to my mind, saying, "Your faith has healed you; go in peace."

Well you can imagine I was shocked wide awake, and no WAY could I go back to sleep again. I buzzed the nurse. She smiled disbelievingly at my story, and said to wait for the doctor the next day.

You've already guessed what happened, right? I convinced the doctor to look under the bandages, and there was no scar, no sign of any surgery, and no pain! Could have knocked her over with a feather she was so surprised. Everyone was shaking their heads and asking themselves how this could be. I left the hospital that afternoon - in a wheelchair, of course, because they make you leave that way. But I didn't need it, no sir, I didn't. That knee was as good as new; maybe better. And I give God the glory [a few "amens" and "alleluias"].

So maybe you're wondering why I'm still using a wheelchair to get around most of the time, and why I'm not back playing basketball. Well, I want to tell you something, something really important, something I think a lot of you might need to hear: God gave me two good knees when I was born, and I risked them both every time I stepped onto a basketball court. I risked them every time I made a jump shot, scrambled for a loose ball, or set a pick. I risked them every game, every practice, every warmup.

And I'm not risking them ever again, oh no! I've learned my lesson, and I'm going to take good care of them until God calls me home to make an account of how I've treated the gifts He's given me.

Thanks for inviting me here today. It was a blessing to speak to you all.

Additional copies of this transcript can be ordered on our website for a freewill offering of $2; audio tapes are $10. Check the website calendar for future speaking dates and locations; you can also view the medical records including the MRI scans, as well as see pictures of exciting basketball moments from the speaker's earlier days as an athlete!