Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Near Death Experience? A reflection on my "accident" one year later

On the one-year anniversary of my roll-over accident I will post a revised version of a newsletter article I wrote which briefly considers the concept of a "near death experience".

Ephesians 1:11 In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…

Last year, the early morning of May 15, Nathan and I were driving to our usual turkey hunting location in southeast, Kansas. We have taken this trip well over a hundred times in the past five years, however this morning things turned out differently. While traveling South on 69 Highway, shortly after 167th street, a family of deer was standing in the road. Traveling at 70 miles per hour and having no advanced warning, my low beams were the first thing to make them visible I could either hit them head on or try to avoid them. Experts say you should
hit them instead of swerving to miss. Instinctively, I tried to miss them. I dodged to the left and corrected back to the right in order to stay out of the ditch-like median, the truck began to fishtail hard to the right, slide backwards and sideways off the road at a high rate of speed. The truck immediately began to roll violently. Most of the windows broke out and I could see the cab crushing in. Nathan was in the passenger seat and I lost sight of him. We rolled two
and a half times before slamming into a rocky embankment upside down and uphill from the road. Words cannot describe what fear I experienced when I wondered if Nathan was still alive. I remember yelling to Nathan right away “You all right ?…are you O.K.”? I’ll never forget hearing him reply“Yeah, I’m O.K.”. Man was that a relief, still I couldn't see him, the roof was crushed in and we were upside down in the dark.
There was glass everywhere. I kicked my door open, undid my seat belt and kind of fell out. Nathan's door was jammed shut (see the pictures) so he crawled over to my side and out.
We stopped at the door of the upside down, destroyed, truck and hugged, praising God for His mercy.

We left the scene of the accident with no more than a couple scratches. The police officers and paramedics that responded to the incident called it a “near death experience.”

As the days, month, and now year have passed, I have gone over this “near death experience” concept countless times. The apparent contingencies busy my mind. If we would have gone off the road 30 yards on either side of where we actually went off, we would have died by slamming into either the rock wall on one side or the huge trees on the other. We rolled into the only gap we could hit and not be killed. Instead of all the glass falling directly on us, it fell down to the ground because the truck landed upside down. There are dozens of “what ifs” and processing them all has been the biggest challenge. I won't kid you- I have re-lived that accident every day since it happened. I drive slower at night and I have had dreams about having similar accidents.
As I have contemplated the situation theologically and meditated upon God’s Word, I am once again impressed and convinced of God’s absolute sovereignty. Ecclesiastes 3:23 says“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted”. God has such a time appointed for each of us.

Simply put, this “accident” was not our time. This is not a mechanical or cold reality to me, instead, I take great comfort in God’s sovereignty. He will take me to be with Himself, for His glory, exactly when He wants to. Why should I fear? I am saved for eternity in Christ Jesus. I could not be safer than in God’s care.

The first answer to the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism captures this truth “That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head…

Yes, this event has given me a greater appreciation for time with my wife, children, and church family. Humanly speaking, I want to be here for my family and church for a long time and I praise God for his preservation of Nathan and me through this violent crash. Still, I am greatly relieved that God is sovereign over all things even if it would have meant our death. He ordains (causes to come to pass) all things and circumstances for the magnification of His glory.

Seemingly random events, down to the rolling of my truck on the side of Highway 69, are determined by God, not chance. God determines the outcome from the very beginning of all things according to his pleasure. Even the creation of the wicked and events of calamity are of the Lord (Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 45:7). Paul captures this truth in Romans 11:36 "For from Him, through Him, and to Him are all things".

I rest in the hands of my loving Father, He always does what is right and best whether I understand it at the time or not. In actuality, we were not really “near death”, there’s no such thing in the plans of a sovereign God.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!


Frontier Forest said...

Hard to believe it was a year ago today! One more providential happening, if Pastor Nathan would have been driving, and you, Pastor Tony were on the shot-gun side…. The top of the truck on the shot-gun side would have caved in, crushing you! But you, being taller than Nathan, God saw that Nathan was riding and you were driving. Well it’s another one of those “what ifs”?
Good place to throw in one of my “woodyisms.” I know you have heard this but others haven‘t! So here goes. “God never wants us to live by “FLACC!” Bad spelling but good theology. FLACC is my own corny acronym for the 5 faith-killing words a Christian should never use when asking “God for a door for the Word to be opened!” "Fate, Luck, Accident, Chance or Coincidence. We may have accidents…. But nothing is ever accidental!"

Hough said...

I would just like to say I love Peruvian food.

Frontier Forest said...

Brain, you lost me on the food comment?