A Devotional from Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith, Founder of Outdoor Ministry Group, shares his testimony.

God can make beauty from ashes!

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

On November 19, 2020, this was my reality. I suffered a traumatic brain injury while hang gliding. I was knocked unconscious and have no memory of the accident. I was rescued, and airlifted to VRMC hospital. I was hospitalized through a 38-day coma, during which I was treated for pneumonia and a blood clot behind my left knee. When I emerged from my coma it was determined that the injury had caused paralysis on my left side.

The screen shot you see is of me in my hospital bed facetiming with my daughter, Kaylee.

The first year after the accident was challenging to say the least.

Through difficult physical therapy, I have recovered a miraculous amount of motor function. In fact, me and Kaylee enjoyed a work-out session recently, something that seemed impossible on the day that screen shot was taken.

And yes, I still have many problems from my traumatic brain injury, but even so, all I can really say is God has been so good to this family. Because I am here, and we are together!

A year or so prior to my accident, I had entered a dangerous place spiritually after my sister’s death. She had taken her own life after a bitter divorce. While still grieving for her, I had an experience while working with the National Ski Patrol and skiing off-duty. It had just snowed 5 feet in one day. I noticed a commotion ahead. A snowboarder, on this intermediate slope, had been boarding too close to the tree line, enjoying the fresh powder. He had hit a small bush, fell into the fresh snow, was not able to get out, and suffocated. He had passed away from a NARSID (non-avalanche-related snow immersion death). Coming late to the scene, I performed mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions. Seeing he was gone, I skied his snowboard down to the patrol room.

Ryan Smith in the Hospital after his accident.
Ryan Smith back on his feet after his coma and praising the Lord.

These traumas, losing my sister and then not being able to save that snowboarder, drove me to to find distraction by chasing adrenaline rushes, a tendency I’ve long struggled with. I was trying to stay ahead of the pain, instead of facing it and seeking His mercy. I could not slow down. In my pursuit of distraction, I was becoming dangerously irresponsible. It finally caught up to me on November 19, 2020.

I see now that I was running away when I should have been running to Him. I have been humbled.

I have become completely dependent on Jesus.

I trust Him!

I am far from perfect. I am in need of God’s mercy and ability to write His way on my heart and change me from the inside out.

As someone with a traumatic brain injury, I have had numerous emotional challenges: speech issues, motor function issues, depression, anger, sensitivity, memory issues, sleepless nights, and anxiety.

But He is there with me.

1 Peter 5:7 says it like this-
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you!

I have God. He has been healing me and my family!

My advice to you is this:

Intimately ask God to come into your heart and change you. Put love in your heart. Let Him lead you to righteousness. Believe Him. TRUST HIM!

If you’re looking for a rush. Something many try through drugs or alcohol or materialistic things. Remember He is the MOST HIGH GOD.

I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

Psalm 57:2-3