Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Willing to Be Used by God

Episode Resources

Check out the Barricks' website—Hope Out Loud.

Watch Jen's Adoration of Jesus.

Leslie Basham: A fifteen-year-old girl wrote this in her journal . . .

Jen Barrick: This life that I now live is not mine, but Yours. It’s Yours to do with as You please. So pretty much, Father, I’m just begging you to take this year and my life and to please allow Your glory to shine. Take it, Father, and use it to its fullest potential.

Leslie: A few months later, she would be in a coma fighting for her life. This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Forgiveness, for Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Our guests this week are Linda and Jen Barrick. Linda is the mother, Jen is the daughter . . . although you two look like you could almost be sisters.

Linda and Jen Barrick: Yay!

Nancy: You have a strong resemblance, and the Lord has made you closer than probably most mothers and daughters ever will be, because of what you have been through together.

So it’s just interesting to see how heartache and hardship forges a bond. When I think of how many twenty-six-year-old daughters don’t feel that close to their mom or are wanting to live their own independent life and don’t have a strong relationship with their mom or even a lot of barriers . . .

But it was through what the world would call an “accident” (which really wasn’t an accident at all) that the Lord knit your hearts closer to Him and closer to each other. Your whole family now is serving together in ministry out of this horrific accident.

I had a brother who was killed in a car accident in college, when he was a student at Liberty University. Somebody told me then—and I’ve remembered it ever since—that with God there are no accidents.

There was a wreck, but it wasn’t an accident. So for those who may have missed the program yesterday (and if you did, I encourage you to listen to it or read the transcript), Linda, just give us in a nutshell what we covered yesterday. Then we’ll pick up with how God began that healing and restoration process.

Linda: It was November 5, 2006, and we were coming home from church—our whole family in a van together. Jennifer was fifteen, and she had just sung in her first choir concert. We were headed home . . . and I love a party! My dad spoke that night on Revelation—and tons of our friends were there—so we invited them all to watch the football game. It was 8:30 on a Sunday evening.

Less than a mile from our home we were hit by a drunk driver. He was running from the police. He had hit another vehicle and the police did not handcuff him and did not take his keys. He came at us going eighty miles an hour. Actually, the impact was 120 miles an hour. All four of us should have died, and yet God spared our lives that night. Jennifer suffered a traumatic brain injury with multiple skull fractures, and no one thought Jen would live.

Nancy: You have a picture of the mutilated van in your book Miracle for Jen. You look at that picture, and you can’t believe that anybody came out of that wreck alive!

Linda: Yes, the drunk driver was in a truck, and he hit us so hard that he dropped his engine in the middle of the road and ran over top of our van. That’s why the van looks so bad and mangled.

Nancy: Wow. But the Lord had a plan. He wasn’t done with your lives. 

Linda: He wasn’t done. 

Nancy: Had He taken you home to Heaven, that’s not a bad ending to a story when you look at it from Heaven’s viewpoint. But He had some more for you down here on earth, and yet it’s been a really long, hard journey!

Because as you learned, Linda, after you finally got out of the hospital and were able to be over with Jen an hour-and-a-half away where she was in a coma for five weeks . . . Even when she started to come to, it was not like you see on TV where somebody just comes to and all of sudden they’re whole. This was still a long, hard journey ahead.

Linda: Right, it was. I wish everyone listening could have been there in the hospital room with Jennifer because we got to see two sides of Jennifer. Her mind and her body were so broken! Doctors would come in, and they’d say, “Jen, raise your right arm.” And she could not do it. She could not follow a verbal command.

They would ask her if she had a brother and she would say, no, she thought she had a sister. She didn’t know her name; she didn’t know who we were, and yet she knew Jesus! And in her pain, as she would be moaning back and forth and getting all wound up in her feeding tube in the bed, we would bring in the WOW worship CD’s and we would play praise music. She could sing word-for-word all twenty-two songs on the WOW worship CD. 

Nancy: Wow!

Linda: Then we would start reading God’s Word. The only thing that would calm her from the thrashing and the pain—because she was so confused—was God’s Word and praise music!

We would start reading in Psalms, and she would start quoting what we were reading. We would stop—I mean, you can imagine, we’re in tears—and she would just keep going. She could quote whole chapters of the Bible! We’d even try to trick her and go to the Old Testament, the New Testament. It didn’t matter! Every word that she had hidden in her heart from God’s Word, she knew. It was as if she knew Jesus and nothing else.

She would talk to Him. The only time that we could understand her was when she was praying and talking to Jesus. It was the only time she made sense. I’ll never forget—she would just praise God. She didn’t ask Him for anything; she didn’t beg Him. She didn’t know she was hurt. She didn’t know she was hurt for two years!

This one day in the hospital—I’m in a wheelchair, my whole left side is crushed, and Jen is saying, “Lord, thank You for healing me and raising me up!” I’m screaming at her, “You’re not healed! You can’t even sit up! What are you saying!?”

But God was trying to teach us through Jen to just praise Him because He can heal. Praise Him in advance, as if He’s already done what we’re asking Him to do. She would praise Him for hours and yet she had so much pain.

There’s one story that happened in the hospital that changed my life forever. I promised God I would always tell it. It was Christmastime. A lift could actually pull Jen out of the bed and put her in the wheelchair. She still couldn’t sit up or stand up. My friend Pam Foster was with us that day. 

Pam was on the ground while Jen was in the wheelchair. She’s rubbing Jen’s feet because Jen doesn’t have control of her legs, so Jen’s kicking Pam, and we’re trying to calm Jen down. Wo we start singing "Silent Night," because it’s Christmas. In the middle of "Silent Night," Jennifer stops kicking and thrashing. Actually, her neck was getting all caught up under the neck rest. But she stops thrashing, and she just starts glowing.

She’s looking up to the left, and at the end of "Silent Night," she just said, “Amen.” I looked at her. I’m in my wheelchair next to her. I said, “Jennifer, do you see Jesus?”

And she said, “Yes! Don’t you see Him? He is standing right beside me.”

And that moment in time changed my life forever, because Jesus made Himself so real to her! Jennifer was completely blind during this time.

Nancy: She could not see you. 

Linda: She could not see me, but she could see Jesus. [Linda asks Jennifer:] How do you view Jesus?

Jen: I love to view Jesus as being my escort, because Scripture says that once we have invited the Lord into our lives and into our hearts to be our personal Savior, how God will never leave us or forsake us, and He’ll be by our side no matter what.

So I just love to visualize Jesus being my escort. And for everyone listening today, if they’ve asked the Lord into their hearts and lives as well, they are never alone—God is by their side and holding their hand.

Nancy: And some people in a circumstance like that would feel that God has forsaken them, but the Lord made sure you knew that He was there with you. And He is there—whether we can feel Him or not. But how sweet of the Lord to let you know that He was there.

Jen: How sweet! Yes!

Linda: I believe Jen experienced God’s presence in a way that was something so powerful—she’s had no fear ever since that day. She’s had no fear, only joy. It’s as if she got a glimpse of the glory of God, and she knows that this life is not all there is, and she doesn't really have the cares of the world that the rest of us have.

She’ll say things to me . . . She has childlike faith, like that five-year-old. She’ll say, “Mom, why would you doubt God? Isn’t He the Creator of the universe?” And I love that, how God has given her that peace. 

When I think back to that day when Jen said Jesus was standing right beside her, that was the day she was awake. She had to be awake three hours to stay in the hospital. Insurance was going to send her home because she wasn’t awake three hours to do therapy. But that was the day she stayed awake long enough, and she started to be able to see out of the upper left. So for a lot of years, she could only see in the upper left corner. Just amazing how God is a God of detail!

Nancy: You were telling as we were having lunch together just before we went to record, about the three P’s that were the means that God gave you to reach her heart when she was not reachable.

Linda: Yes, I know it’s hard to imagine if you’ve never seen someone come out of a coma, but it is not at all like the movies. Jennifer was so broken, and she didn’t know or understand anything. She didn’t know what an elephant was, what a bird was, nothing. Yet the Holy Spirit was alive and perfect inside of her. The only way we could get Jen to do anything, even to learn how to walk or to get out of bed, was to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit.

So in the hospital, all her weight is on this walker. The therapist can’t get her to take one step, but I knew the night before, my mom had stayed with her all night and Jen had quoted all sixty-six books of the Bible.

So I’m in my wheelchair, and they’re trying to make Jen walk. I just started saying, “Genesis, Exodus . . .” And she started saying, “Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua . . .” And she took sixty-six steps down the hallway and said all sixty-six books of the Bible!

The only way we could connect with her would be to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit. Even her school teacher at the hospital would try to put a pencil in her hand and say, “Write Jen. Just J-E-N.” She would cry and say, “This hurts!” In fact, she didn’t even know where her body was in space. She didn’t know she had arms and legs. They would put her in a rocking chair and shake her just to show her where her arms were, and she would cry.

But when the teacher put the pencil in her hand and say, “Write ‘I love Jesus,’ she would try with all her might. And so, even when Jen came home three months later, we didn’t know . . . What were we going to do with her—because she was so broken?

Yes, she could walk with help, but we started doing the three P’s. In order for Jen to function, she had to have praise music on, and she’d be dancing with joy to the praise music. We would quote the promises of God’s Word, and we would pray out loud.

Even getting out of bed was so hard! And so, what would we say, Jen, to get you out of bed?

Jen: “I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Linda: Then she had anxiety. She couldn’t walk through a room full of people, and what would we say?

Jen: “God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind” (see 2 Tim. 1:7).

Linda: And so our days were just . . . We did the three P’s all day long just to get Jen dressed, just to get her in a car and drive her to therapy. Jen would pray out loud and talk to Jesus, just like she did in the hospital.

Nancy: I’m thinking those three P’s would be good for a whole lot of our listeners—for all of us—because who among us isn’t facing something in our lives that is really hard? It may not be getting out of bed (it may be getting out of bed!), but it may be something else that’s really hard in your job or in your relationship with somebody else. You think about if we were to build our lives around praise and the promises of God and prayer, we can tap into the power of the Holy Spirit by those means of grace.

I can’t tell you how many times when I come into the studio to do an interview or I get up to teach or to do a conference or write a book, I’m thinking, I cannot do this! I feel weak; I feel inadequate. And you are so right! It’s in the place of praise, in the place of clinging to those promises of God and praying, crying out to Him, that God infuses us with grace and strength to do what—humanly—we can’t do.

Linda: Right. When I think about it, we learned so much that when we pray Scripture, we’re praying God’s will, and He will answer. What Jen would teach us over and over—what God would teach us through Jen—was to praise Him because He can. So instead of begging, to turn our begging into just praising Him. 

I’ll never forget one night, Jennifer had so much pain and so much pressure in her head that we would get around her bed as a family every night, and my husband would rub her feet for an hour just so she could be able to sleep.

We would all pray. My son Josh would pray, “Lord, please heal Jen more.” I would beg God to heal new pathways in Jen’s brain. One night Jen opened her mouth, and she said, “Lord, did I meet all Your expectations today? Did I fulfill everything You had for me to do today?”

I just wept because I thought, I had never prayed a prayer like that before. My prayers were, “Lord, help me! Lord, serve me! Make my life easy! Fix Jen!” I was begging God to make Jen who she was before, and God had a far greater plan! Yet Jen’s prayer wasn’t, “Fix me.” It was, “Lord, use me”—and that changes everything! God can use all of us just as we are, and where we are, and in our weakness He is strong.

And that’s, I think, what God teaches our family every day. When we’re incapable, God can do it. But we have to do those P’s. We have to praise Him and pray and ask Him. Just this last year I realized we’ve been doing a fourth P. Jen has been doing a fourth P all along.

Nancy: What is it, Jen?

Jen: “Positive”—saying the positive.

Linda: She refuses to say a negative out loud. She will only say positive. She was going to be in a wedding, and I didn’t think we were going to get the dress zipped. I was saying, “Jen, you can’t eat that chocolate cake.”

And she says, “Well, I feel great about how I look. I prayed, and God’s gonna zip up that dress for me.” And sure enough, she fit in the dress. She just turns everything into a positive. It’s amazing!

Nancy: You sound like my husband. He thinks that way—and helps me think that way.

Linda: Yes. If she wants to do something and she wanted a friend—and I’m thinking all her friends are working—she said, “Well, I have lots of friends. Who could I call?” She just chooses to say the positive out loud . . . which is what Scripture is.

Nancy: Jen, I’m listening to this and thinking, What kind of kid were you before this accident? I don’t know how much of that you remember, but how have you changed in terms of your relationship with the Lord? Is this the way you always were, or has God used all of this to do some different things in your life?

Jen: Well, through the car wreck, God has definitely allowed me to be more outspoken and sharing my faith with just whoever I come in contact with—which I am so thankful for!

Before the car wreck I was more of an introvert. I did have a deep love relationship with the Lord. I loved to journal and kept it all more so, just me and God in my room. I would get up early before school to read my Bible and to pray and to journal to God. But I feel like . . .

Linda: You were begging for boldness.

Jen: I was.

Linda: She couldn’t really pray out loud unless you kind of put her on the spot. In ninth grade she was a varsity cheerleader, a varsity soccer player, a straight-A student. But in her journals she was saying, “Lord, thank You, but I want more. I want to make a difference for eternity, and I know I’m going to need boldness.”

She was actually begging God to have boldness like her little brother, because he could pray out loud in front of people. Now with her brain injury, she’s completely uninhibited, and she shares Jesus everywhere she goes!

And Jen, there is a journal you wrote two months before the car wreck . . .

Jen: Oh, yes.

Linda: I think you can quote it. I found it under your bed while you were in the coma.

Nancy: I want to hear her quote that, but first, Linda, I want to hear you tell how you discovered those journals.

Linda: While Jen was still in her coma, I begged my dad to take me back to our house. (We had not been there because it had steep staircases, and I was in a wheelchair.) So he took me to the house—and my whole left side is crushed—and I remember just sitting on the steps and pushing up on my one good arm and my one good leg and crawling up the steps to Jen’s room at the top of the steps. So I’m on the ground, and I can see this Victorian box under her bed. I crawl over to that box and I open it, and Jen had journals hidden in that box.

She had a journal to her future husband. I mean, she had all kinds of journals. She was much quieter of a personality before her brain injury. She loved Jesus with all her heart, but it was kind of hidden in her journals.

In fact, the beginning said, “If anyone ever reads this, they may get a glimpse of what goes on in Jennifer Nicole’s head.” I giggle now, thinking, because those journals are all through Miracle for Jen—the book that I wrote on Jen’s story. Now the whole world gets to see Jen’s heart and how she loved Him!

But this one journal entry was so powerful—where Jen was begging God to use her. I ripped it out, and I carried it with me everywhere in my wheelchair, because it gave me hope that God was going to wake her up. I felt like Jen was talking to me or speaking to me.

And not only that, in her room I look at her nightstand, and there’s this hot pink piece of paper and on it is Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious [for] anything, but in everything [with] prayer and supplication . . .”

Then I crawl into her bathroom, and there’s a sticky note. I have to tell you, one thing as a mom, Satan accuses you. One of my thoughts was, “Did I pray protection over my kids that day?”—the day that the car wreck happened. Had I done everything that I could do to protect my family?

There on Jen’s mirror in the bathroom was a verse in Psalms that I had prayed over Jen, and she had stuck it . . . I would often give her sticky notes, and she stuck them on her bathroom mirror. It was a passage in Psalms just asking God to guard her with His angels and to protect her.

Again, God was just comforting me—being in Jen’s room. But I tore out that journal entry and I carried it with me in my wheelchair, in my purse, everywhere I went, even when Jen started waking up from her coma. It would give me hope. I read it over and over!

Nancy [to Jen]: Is that the one you can quote? Would you like to share that?

Jen: I would love to. I titled it, “Anything Is Possible with You!”

Wow, Lord, it’s crazy how time flies! And this year, Father, I don’t want to blend in—because I know that I was born to stand out . . . to stand alone?—maybe—if that’s what it takes.

This life that I now live is not mine, but Yours. It’s Yours to do with as You please. So pretty much, Father, I’m just begging you to take this year and my life and to please allow Your glory to shine! Take it, Father, and use it to its fullest potential.

Your faithful servant,
Jen

Nancy: And that was written how long before the accident?

Linda: Two-and-a-half months—right before school started.

Nancy: So you didn’t know what the Lord had in mind or how He was planning to answer that sincere prayer from His faithful servant. But as you look back now, you can see that God was answering your heart’s desire.

Jen: Yes!

Nancy: Did you ever imagine that you would have opportunities to share with the world your love for Jesus?

Jen: No! It’s amazing. God’s amazing!

Linda: You know, when the NBC Today Show came to our house and did a story on Jen, the producer of the show wanted to ask Jen some extra questions. He sat in our kitchen and asked, “Jen, if you go back to November 5, 2006 and change it and not get in that van, would you do it?”

And she just said, “No. I’m so honored that God would use me. This was the desire of my heart.”

And then the same producer asked me the same question, and I said, “Yes.” As a mom, I would change it! Because what mom wants to watch their child suffer? This was several years ago, and I didn’t know how much God would keep healing Jen. But it’s hard! It’s hard to watch your child suffer and go through pain every day. And yet, what’s amazing is how God gives her purpose every day. He gives her divine appointments every day—whether it’s in the bathroom praying over someone in a wheelchair or a little kid whose crying in the corner.

God gives her someone to share hope with every day, everywhere she goes.

Nancy: Well, this book, Miracle for Jen, it’s a story of hope. I believe as you read it, it’s going to encourage you—whatever your story, your journey may be that the Lord is writing for you. That will be very different from Jen and Linda’s story, but it will challenge your faith. It will encourage you in your relationship with Jesus, and to let Him use you in ways that only He can make possible.

We’re making this book available to anyone who makes a donation this week—of any amount—to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. It’s our way of saying thank you when you support the ministry in that way.

You know, Jen and Linda, a big part of your story is about the guy who was driving the truck. You told us a little bit about him, but when we come back on the next Revive Our Hearts, I want to talk about how he played into this story and this whole challenge of forgiveness. You’ve walked through quite a journey on that, and I know many of our listeners have circumstances that they have faced where it’s really, really hard to deal with this forgiveness issue.

So I hope our listeners will be sure and join us for the next Revive Our Hearts with Jen and Linda Barrick.

Leslie: Here’s how to get a copy of the book Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth was talking about. It’s called Miracle for Jen, and you can ask for it when you make a donation of any size to Revive Our Hearts.

When you donate, would you ask God how He’d have you support this ministry? Here in May we’re asking Him to provide at least $680,000 in donations. This will help us prepare for the summer months when donations are typically lower. You can call with your gift at 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow hear about an amazing letter Jen wrote after being hit by a drunk driver and being in a coma. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to prepare you for any challenging circumstances. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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