How God got my attention!
“Spectacular Wreck” was the title appearing on the front page of the Everett Herald, a Washington State newspaper. The headline was followed by: “DRIVER RESCUED - Everett police officers and firemen worked for 40 minutes extracting the driver from this demolished car, which went out of control on the 41st Street Broadway overpass shortly before 3:30 this morning. Assisting in the rescue operation is county coroner Mr. Xon Baker.”
When I was eighteen, I almost died in a car wreck. Though I did not turn to God then, the wreck did, indirectly, bring me to Christ. I had been in another accident just one month before, and I had not learned my lesson. This second crash nearly cost me my life. I owned a brand new 1968 Cougar with a 428 Cobra jet engine, and I thought, “I look good behind the wheel of that car!” Of course the purpose of a fast car is to go fast, which I did; too fast for me.
It was early morning, around 3:00, and I'm glad I was alone; otherwise, someone else would have ended up hurt or dead. I was going 125 miles per hour, and at that speed, the valves floated in the engine (thankfully), or I would have been going even faster. I lost control as I approached an overpass. The car spun out and skidded around sideways, leaving eighty feet of skid marks, and hit the corner of the bridge. At impact the tires hit the curb and blew out. Fortunately, my head tilted to one side as the car tipped over, because the bridge tore through the roof and smashed my left shoulder, instead of my head, pushing me into the back seat. Somehow in that moment, there was just enough room for my feet to get out from under the dashboard, but not enough room for my shoes, which stayed under the dash. The force of the crash imbedded the car key, which was in the contact on the dashboard, down to the floor. It crushed the car’s body, springing its frame into the shape of a banana.
The roof pinned me into the back seat and I could not breathe! My only thought was, “I don’t want to die.” With my right hand, I pulled myself up to a position where I could get air into my lungs. It took about thirty minutes for the police to arrive, followed by the fire department. Those who found my car thought no one could have survived, so they also called the mortician. He showed up but, thankfully, wasn’t needed. It took another forty-five minutes for the fire department to pry the door open. Where I ended up was literally the only space left in the car. Later, when the insurance adjuster called me, he didn’t believe I had remained in the car, but thought I had been thrown out. When I told him I had been trapped inside, he asked, “Where? There’s no room!”
I spent a month in the hospital. I broke my left anklebone and still have an aluminum screw in it to this day, a little reminder of my stupidity. I also snapped the tendons in my left shoulder and had some other minor injuries, or so I thought. On the second day at the hospital, I started losing blood in my left kidney. This prompted the doctors to call my parents to come and spend the night with me, as they weren’t sure I would make it.
During my first few days at the hospital, I lay unconscious most of the time and only occasionally woke up. It was during one of these few conscious times when something happened to make me change the direction of my life. I woke up and saw my dad looking at me with an expression on his face that seemed to say, “What am I doing raising these kids?” He said nothing; he just had that expression, and I knew he was disappointed in me. At that moment it was hard for him. I was going around doing my own thing, not concerned with or even considering others’ feelings, but I didn’t like seeing my dad look like that. I felt like I had let him down, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I made a decision then to do something that would please him, and not me. Without realizing it, I began to obey the Bible--“Honor thy father.” No, this did not save me nor forgive my sins, but there is a promise attached to this commandment found in Deuteronomy 5:16, “that it may go well with thee.” My dad and mom loved me and were good to me, and I wanted to do something that would make them happy.
A few months after the doctors released me from the hospital, Dad took me to the navy recruiter. It was something I never would have done on my own. I guess Dad was concerned about my circle of friends and the direction I was going in, which was nowhere! So, I signed up! Later, something happened in the military I had never experienced before.
About six times, people came up to me and started talking about God, or at least they tried to. I refused to talk to the first person who tried this, but eventually I started to listen. They talked about being “saved.”
“What do you mean, ‘saved’?” I asked
“Will you go to Heaven when you die?” they responded.
“I’ll find out when I die!” I said.
“That’s too late. What if you wake up in Hell?” they replied.
About the only time I remember talking about the Lord before this was when I used His name in vain. The church I was brought up in never said only Jesus Christ could save you, or even talked about how to be saved. The Holy Spirit started working on me, and I thought maybe there was something to all of this. And if God made me, then He should know how I could find happiness. The car wreck had made me realize I was not “Mr. Indestructible.” I began to think about death and eternity. This life compared to eternity is only a split second. So, after death where was I going?
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