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Jul19FriNorman Collins realized that where God is concerned, we can come as we are. July 19, 2013 by Diane Stark
"We can't offer you any promises,” the doctors told Norman Collins of the back surgery he was about to undergo. “We can only hope to stop the damage from getting worse.”
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- Faith & Friends
In 1999, a skid of computers fell on the truck driver, dislocating his shoulder and causing severe damage to his upper back. Over the next seven years, Norman underwent several major operations to repair the damage.
“The doctors were amazed because my back and neck recovery surpassed everything they could imagine,” Norman says. “But I know that when modern medicine has done its best, God takes over and performs miracles.”
For many years, Norman didn't rely on God for much of anything. As a child, he attended a Salvation Army church in Deer Lake, N.L. “I always went to church with my parents, and I loved it,” Norman says. But as he got older, he left God behind and went his own way.
In 1986, Norman married his second wife, Maxine. Norman and his first wife had had four children together and he'd also adopted Maxine's three children from a previous marriage. Together, he and Maxine finished raising them. In 1991, they began attending The Salvation Army's York Community Church in Toronto. “Although I hadn't yet given my heart to God, I knew He was working in my life,” Norman says.
In 1999, Norman decided to quit smoking. “I'd already cleaned up my language and stopped drinking,” he explains. “But smoking had been an addiction for me for years, and I'd tried everything to quit. But God, in His mercy, took my addiction away in order to bring me closer to Him.”
“Living for Someone”
During that time, Norman was still struggling with feelings of inadequacy.
“I felt I needed to clean myself up before I could be saved,” he states. “But God accepts us just as we are.”
In 2001, Norman attended a Salvation Army conference at Jackson's Point, Ont. Major Max Barrett spoke that night, but Norman, preoccupied with his own emotional turmoil, cannot now recall what he preached about. “Major Barrett gave an altar call and the next thing I knew, I was up in the front of the church, asking for forgiveness,” he smiles. “It just clicked that I didn't have to give up anything to come to God; I just needed to give Him my heart.”
But Norman's life hasn't been easy since accepting God. In 1999, he had the accident which injured his back and, a year later, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. In 2006, doctors surgically implanted 19 inches of titanium into his spine and, in 2008, he underwent brain surgery to help lessen the effects of the disease.
The recovery from these surgeries was long and painful, but God was with Norman through it all. “I felt God's presence,” he says. “He gave me the strength to get through it and He gave me wonderful friends who supported me. My church family rallied around me, praying for me, taking me to doctor's appointments and whatever else I needed.
“Life is better now,” Norman smiles. “God offers us a plan and a future. Before Christ, no one offered me anything.”
Norman doesn't know what the future holds as far as his Parkinson's is concerned. “The doctors can't offer me any promises, but I'm clinging tightly to the promises of God. He is the Great Physician and whatever He has in store for me will happen.
“Becoming a Christian means living for something and Someone,” Norman concludes. “And it means that despite everything, I'm never, ever, alone.”