Better to Be Broken is the testimony of Rick Huntress. The book opens with a horrific accident: while on a training mission on an Air Reserve base in GA, the locking system for the two-ton cargo bay door of an airplane where Rick was supervising a cargo load failed, and the door came crashing onto his head, shattering three vertebrae which severed his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic.
The next chapter goes back to Rick’s previous life. He had accepted Christ as his Savior at a young age, but early on he loved “praise and accolades.” “Because I had no understanding at that age where my gifts came from, the deadly sin of pride thrived in fertile soil…It made me think I was something special, and that attitude only served later to alienate me from my peers.” He developed a drive to be on top, out front, well thought of, and so he hid his personal weaknesses and his real self. He served in the Air Force, married, attended college, and started a good job all with the same mentality. After a while things began to deteriorate, especially in his marriage.
The next chapter picks back up to the time right after the accident and the ensuing weeks in a hospital. Between pain, drugs, confusion, and fear, finally his walls started breaking down. He tells not only of the progress in his condition but also the progress in his soul as he began to face reality.
I wouldn’t say that God caused my accident to happen, but He did allow it to happen. During the weeks after my surgery, as my body was physically healing, God knew that what I needed most was spiritual healing. That could only be accomplished by His direct hand. He brought me to a place in which rescue was possible only by complete trust in Him. It had been so long since I had trusted in Him that I had forgotten how. But from the moment of the accident, the journey had begun.
Verse 17 of Psalm 51 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou with not despise.” I, too, was broken, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. My broken back is a blessing from God. He used it to bring me back to Himself. I have heard it said, “God sometimes puts us flat on our back, so we can learn to look up at Him.” That certainly was true for me.
Rick continues to tell of physical and mental adjustments once he was well enough to go home, adjustments to the house, to life in a wheelchair, to not being able to do what he always did. It was hard to navigate the “new normal.” But eventually he came to peace with the differences and found new ways to serve, especially ministering to others in similar circumstances. He once even organized a memorable trip to Israel for several disabled people.
Rick concludes, “If it took a wheelchair for me to have a close relationship with my heavenly Father, then I would choose it all again” and “This is not a sob story about my broken body, it is my sincere attempt to give God the glory for breaking my stubborn will. It is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Though I winced at several of the things Rick had to go through, I was greatly blessed and challenged by his story, and I highly recommend it to you.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)