So . . . today marks the 10th anniversary of a great incident in my life. Something so big that it has left a mark on me to this day.
10 years ago, I was pinched between a large truck and a barn. I had been just helping a neighbor with some chores, he had bought a loft full of straw for his garden and needed some extra muscle to get it moved over to his place. Nothing to big or crazy for a 14 year old farm kid.
My parents were totally on board with the whole thing, myself in addition to two of my brothers had been working with him for the previous year or two, I dont really remember, so we had a fairly solid working arrangement.
Anyway, we had started bright and early that fateful morning, trying to get everything out of the barn it was in before it rained again and turned the dirt road we were required to traverse into a sloppy impassable mess. And throughout the day we made steady progress on the mountain of straw, slowly the pile began to sink under sweaty brows and leather gloved hands. It wasnt what you would call fun work, but it wasnt all the unpleasent either. Just hot and dirty.
When it got on towards dusk, we were looking at what we had left in the barn and how full the truck was, and we decided that one more trip would be sufficient to finish the job. We had made something like 6 or 7 trips already that day, so only one more was a very motivating idea.
We dumped that last load and drove back to the farmstead where the straw was stored. I hopped out of the truck and went around back of it, to open the barn doors. Throughout the whole day we had backed the truck just barely into these first floor doors so the the loft doors above opened right over the truck. Then we just had to toss the bales out the door and into the truck, most of them broke somewhere along the way so we just piled it as full as we could with straw and then stacked the unbroken bales on top, partly to keep everything else in, and partly because we needed something to stick together when we tied it all down.
So I slid open the door, and stood there while he manuvered the truck into position. Something was off this time around though, and I was apparenly tired enough that I didnt notice the truck coming straight at me. Before I even had time to think, I was pinned between the truck and the building. I wasnt there for long, I started screaming at him to pull the truck out and was probably only stuck for a few seconds, but it was an extremely painful length of time.
When he had pulled out, I sort of flopped myself into some straw there just inside the building and lay there, glad that there wasnt any more pain coming on, but at the same time unable to move without that same shooting pain going up my back from my legs. I laid there for a couple of minutes, and then we decided that something ELSE needed to be done about it. I wasnt going to just hop up and be all fixed after a short break!
So, he calls my home, talks to my mom who tells him that my dad was at a church meeting, but was only about 10 minutes from where we were at the moment. He gets ahold of my dad who comes out and picks me up and we head into town to the ER.
What an experience I tell you, small town ER!
Turns out when I get there, that they dont have an x-ray tech on site and had to call one in from another town. Laying there in the ER, I was prodded and poked for a while, grimicing in pain from time to time as they found just WHERE I was hurting the most at. Constant checking for internal bleeding and concerns that I might have a fractured spine. What confusion! We finally get the x-rays, only to decide that they dont show anything at all, and because of that they were even more worked up about things.
Ended up being admitted for observation and then also to be on site for a MRI scan the next morning.
That night my legs apparently had a mind of their own, twitching and hopping all over the bed while I was sleeping (at least thats what my dad told me later). I discovered during this night that I could barely move my arms before the pain would go streaking up my back and down my leg. It was very painful, and there wasnt anything I could do about it.
The MRI wasnt all that bad really. Kind of intimidating at first, but once I got the hang of it, I almost fell asleep during the rest of it. Just sliding in and out of this tuby thing, nice and slow with a loud humming/buzzing sound of the machine doing its thing.
That scan proved that none of my skeletal structure was damaged. Everything that could have been wrong, wasnt. All I suffered from was massive bruising on nearly all of my back muscles. I had trouble walking on my own, every step was painful. Laughing pulled ‘something’ painful, standing still and turning my upper torso sideways was the worst. Even just a slight twist would bring me immediately back to straight ahead, which was the least painful.
I had a few weeks like this, slowly and consistently improving, but not nearly as fast as I would have liked.
Compounding matters was that only 3 weeks after this incident, we moved. And all I could do was stand there and watch as my family and a whole bunch of friends did the work that I was so used to doing. Pianos, refrigerators, washing machines, etc… ALL were off limits. I think the most I moved was a few small bags or empty boxes out of their way so they could get all the ‘big stuff’.
I guess the reason this was so significant is the fact that it was this event that brought about the most challenging question I think I may have ever heard. “If you had been killed in this accident, would you be standing at the gates of glory? or crossing the threshold of hell?” What made this so tough was the simplicity of the question, and yet the absolute importance of answering it!
Id grown up in the church, so I was a ‘good kid’ and all that jazz. I didnt have any trouble in any of the circles I was part of, other then the occasional bouts of rebellion against my parents. I didnt do drugs, or sleep around, or drink. I was a clean, honest guy. Being a hard worker is part of growing up in my family, so I was in most senses one of those exemplary kids, that everyone else got pointed at for being such a great kid.
All of that ‘perfection’ though was meaningless when it came to answering this simple question. The answer to that question is based solely on ONE single thing. Did I believe that I was a sinner? Decrepit in everything I did, unable to even come close to being a single shade of good. Did I believe that I could pay the debt that this sin had racked up? It is impossible to pay for ONE sin, much less the many sins I had committed in my lifetime, no matter how hidden or inconsequential they are in comparison to what I see those around me do. Or did I believe that there was ONE who HAD been able to pay for those sins, and then DID pay for them?? Did He pay for MY sins? Did He pay for ALL of them? How do I accept this payment? What do I have to do to get it?
These questions and many more troubled me for days. I absolutely HAD to find the answers, because my life was hanging in the balance!
I found those answers, and with them came a peace and joy that I had never experienced before.
Am I a sinner? Yes, I am. And a very vile and disgusting one at that.
Could I pay the price for those sins? No, no one is ever able to attone for his own sin, the consequences of the first sin is death. And once you are dead, how can you pay for the second sin?? or the third?? or the fourth?? or ANY of them?!?!
Was there someone ELSE who DID pay for those sins?? YES! there is!! Jesus Chris paid for all my sins when He died in my place. He took MY spot and absorbed the wrath of God that was directed at me because of the sins that I committ.
Did He pay for MY sins? All of them? Yes! He did! None of them are left up to me. Jesus covers them ALL for me and provides me with righteousness. He removes the punishment aimed at me, and takes it upon Himself.
How do I get that? What do I have to do? My friends, there was NOTHING I had to do, or could do, or would have to do to accept this payment. It is a gift from Christ to me! The requirements of me to recieve this gift were that I recognize my sinfulness, admit my own inability to do ANYTHING about it, repent of those sins in a humble heart before God, and release control of my own life, giving it instead to the command of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.
There were other lingering effects on my life. Up until two or three years ago, I would occasionally pull my back a little if I was picking up a heavey oject a little awkwardly was the main one. But it pales so drastically in comparison to the conclusion of the chain of events that all started with a truck and a barn full of straw 10 years ago.
Your challenge might not come in the form of a literal truck, but metaphorically we all have been or will be hit by a truck. And when that happens, I want to challenge you to consider the questions I faced and find the answers for yourself.
“If you are killed or die, will you be standing at the gates of glory? or crossing the threshold of hell?”
You CAN know the answer my friends, you NEED to know the answer. Dont wait until you get there to find out where you really stand.