Posted by: Kara Luker | November 8, 2010

Oh, to praise him with every breath

But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. Judges 6:23-24

I feel this forward motion happening and an excitement about what’s here and what’s to come, but want to pause and remember the heart-wrenching goodness of God along the way. There are two points in time that I have experienced the full unleashing of God’s grace. This was the first…

At 18, I moved to L.A. where I launched whole-heartedly into the darkest period of my life. The details aren’t particularly important, but I was lost beyond lostness with an increasing thirst for more of the same. The image I get is a body with a thousand holes leaking out faster than anything can be poured in. And everything I tried to fill myself up with just seemed to burn more holes, until it felt like there was nothing of me left.

One night my diabetic junkie friend, Pete, agreed to shoot me up with heroin in the bathroom of my apartment on Ogden. My roommate, Allison, and another junkie friend, Eddie, were lounging in the living room on the bed that served as a couch, or maybe the chair next to it. We must have been out that night. I don’t remember where. It was late.

The moment that needle went into my arm under the bright light of the tiled bathroom, I remember a moment of bliss. Of pleasure. Of peace. Of goodness. Of desperately sought-after escape. For that flash of time, a wave of wellbeing flooded all my dark parts and made them feel like golden fields. But it would not last. Not more than a few seconds later, maybe even the moment the needle left my arm, everything went blank.

I have no memory of collapsing on the floor, the frenzied attempts of my friends to revive me, or their panic as I lost normal color and started turning blue. I don’t know who called 911 in the end. But someone did.

I awoke violently vomiting on my porch while being carried to an ambulance under piercing sunlight. We lived in a nice neighborhood with Orthodox Jews and other upright people, a few of whom were scattered about that morning. They looked on from a distance as I was carried out. I saw faces, but couldn’t read them.

I passed out and woke up in the ambulance. The paramedics were angry. They asked if I realized the seriousness of the situation; that I had just almost died. They seemed to be working with intensity. I was irritated by their tone, and told them they weren’t helping the situation, just before going unconscious again.

The next time I woke up, I was laying on a gurney in the hospital, hooked up to some sort of IV. It was not a private or even semi-private room, more like a hallway or public space. A kindly nurse in her 50’s leaned over me and smiled. My agitation was gone. I felt soft but weary, like I had traveled a distance on a long journey. I had no understanding of the significance of life that day or a particular care that I survived.

But, oh, do I ever grasp it now. I can’t help but ball my eyes out. Not with sorrow, but with overwhelming gratitude for His great mercy. Not only to spare my life, but to mend every hole with His own body. It wasn’t until a few years later that the altar was built in my heart, one that brings me to my knees in humility and thankfulness as the relentless goodness of God continues to unfold.

And If I ever get to meet the paramedics who revived me that day, I will cover them with tears and thank them for the rest of eternity and then some.


  1. Wow. I feel like I have a whole new insight as to why you feel compelled to hone your gift of writing. You have incredible riches to share… having lived in the scrutinized, and often unforgiving, fishbowl of a PK, as a seeker in a culture that offers a plethora of pathways to freedom and now as one who is journeying along the one true path to wholeness. It’s like being able to peer in on a future Olympic athlete as she enters the practice fields. I’m excited for you … and for us (your readers).

    • Julie, I love this. In one of my favorite messages by Graham Cooke (you know the kind you listen to over and over until your soul is saturated??), he talks about how commentators will always mention what these competitive athletes look like in practice and how they train; that this is a true measure of how they will compete when it matters. He likens this to our Christian walk and how all these things we do day-in and day-out are the practice fields. We’re not just waiting around for the olympics, but moving forward with focus and discipline as we train for a goal. Can’t tell you how excited I was to see that language in your comment… and to be seen as someone in training. Thanks!

  2. Wow, Kara. I’m not awake enough (still drinking my coffee) to respond with anything articulate or great. But thank you for sharing this dark moment in your life. And it stands in stark contrast to the light you shine as I know you. I appreciate so much when people are vulnerable and share the not so beautiful things. It helps. As a side note, your last note about the paramedics makes me think about the things we do that have lasting impact, hopefully for the good, and we may or may not ever know it…yet we still must push on. Hugs to you!

    • Karise, Thank you! I felt kind of like a dull bulb today, so your comment was particularly encouraging. And the part about lasting impact really hit me as profound. Based on my shabby, derogatory response to the paramedics, it would be easy for them to walk away wondering, “why bother?” It so often feels that way when we reach out to love difficult people or choose do what’s right – no reward, and often negative responses. Of course, God knows but we don’t know what seeds are planting that are gonna bring good things about. Like you said, though, we may never know it. Good stuff Karise!

  3. Kara, It strikes me that as The Lord was unleashing His amazing grace to you ,He also extended it to those of us who know you now and will know you in the future. It’s so telling how the enemy baits us with his counterfeit lies (peace,bliss,ESCAPE,goodness and pleasure),but The Lord gives us His promise,His Word,His Heart,to offer us true peace(that surpasses understanding),real bliss(joy in The Lord),escape(Heaven, our real home),goodness,(that leads to repentance), and pleasure(as we delight ourselves in Him,He will give us the desires of our hearts). The enemy offers us a needle in the arm but our Amazing Savior offers up Himself! I pray the world could know it’s no contest. I am so grateful for your life.

    • Wow Wendy. I love the way you broke that down. I’m going to need to read that through a few more times. Thank you for being grateful for my life. I’m grateful for yours too. 🙂

  4. You are one brave soldier to expose yourself like this. But what a great example of Gods forgiveness and how He makes us whole again….over and over. He is pretty incredible…and so are you!! I am so thankful that he chose to let you stay here with us for a little while longer. Because I love you too much and my life wouldn’t be nearly as pretty without you in it!

    • Can you imagine if we hadn’t had a chance to reconnect and visit over coffee and lounge by the pool and coddle your dogs and drink margaritas and pray and laugh? Oh my, what I would have missed. You are a blessing I’m very glad I got to stick around for!

  5. All I can say is I’m one lucky girl to not have known about this one until something like a year later. Don’t think my heart could have taken it. I’m so thankful for your beautiful life. Your beautiful life.

    • Did I ever tell you that I love you?

      • I should of checked off the notify me box.

        I love you.

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