I was twelve when I accepted Jesus as my Lord, and it was not a minute too soon. Victory Baptist Church was only two blocks from where we lived in Providence, Kentucky. Like most kids, I spent the majority of my time in church on the back pew. I was not even aware that I was listening to the sermon that Sunday, but when the invitation came at the end of the service, I almost ran down the aisle. I knew from that day forward that God would be with me in whatever I faced in the future. Without his protection, I am sure that I would not have made it to age twenty.
Growing up knowing Jesus helped me from making big life-changing mistakes, but I certainly made my share of the less serious ones. At the early age of sixteen, after I had left home, God placed a special couple in my path encouraging me to join the service. The army provided me with the discipline that I needed at that age. I knew that God was watching over me, and He helped me whenever I was tempted to make a bad decision.
Everyday God intervenes to protect us. As I backed out of a parking space, a car turning in off the main road almost rear ended me, and only the week before, while following a swerving car, two other cars cut me off trying to get around quickly as the driver crossed the center line several times, and then made a wild U-turn on a red light. Think about all the drivers that are distracted while speeding through heavy traffic, then thank God for watching over you each time you get on the road.
Are we safe anywhere? While walking our dog in the back yard a bullet tore through the trees, falling at my feet, bouncing off the wooden bridge with a loud bang, and landed in the dried leaves. A second later I heard the gunshot and knew at once what it was. Had not the Lord caused me to pause and knock down a spider web I would have been hit. Close calls occur every day, most of the time we are just not aware of them, or maybe we just ignore them.
I knew the Lord was protecting me when that bear stepped over me in the mountains of New York. I was on a weekend hiking trip on the northern tip of the Appalachian Trail and arrive at the camp site after dark. It was full of campers, so I continued down a side trail to a clearing with a view over the moon lit lake. I threw a rope over a high limb and raised my backpack, which contain a hamburger, to prevent the animals from getting into it. I did not realize that the pack with food was between the lake and where I was sleeping. I could see the outline of the bear as he stepped over my sleeping bag, snorting, brushing my body as he passed. My life flashed before me as I held the knife at my side waiting for the attack. A strange peace came over me and I dozed back off, only to be disturbed a second time as he stepped over me again. Through the thin sleeping bag cover, I was using to keep the dew off my face, I could see the full moon and his outline as he passed over me again.
When we drove vehicles out of a burning lot in Germany, I knew that God was protecting us all. A solder refueling his jeep late one night from the large tank truck, caught fire and we were called out to evacuate the motor pool. We had to drive by the burning fuel truck with flames reaching a hundred feet into the night sky, tires exploding, and feeling the intense heat. No one was hurt and only two vehicles lost.
When the plane I was a passenger on, slid off the runway in Syracuse, New York during a rain storm. I was reminded once more that God was watching, not only me, but all those on that plane.
At yearly caving conventions we would camp out and everyone would joke about the summer storms and floods that always seemed to hit the camp site during the conventions, knocking down tents, or worse yet, a lake rising to flood the entire camp site. More than once we would return from a banquet late at night to find tents piled up and sleeping gear soaked. Yet I don’t recall anyone getting injured, again God and His angels had to be watching over the saved and unsaved alike.
All the close calls while caving, at any time, if God had taken his hand off of me I could have died. I look back on the deep pits I crawled around in the mud and the fear that hit me days later about how close I came to death. Falls that could have been disastrous, but only shook me up, tight places where I almost got stuck, and loose rocks that moved or fell when touched. How great it is to not live in fear, knowing that whatever happens, however bad, God is in control, even at the end of this life here on earth, God will provide, and has already provided a better home for us.
A gun waving drunk stopping my family on the expressway, as we traveled home from Florida. I slowly eased by talking, and trying not to upset him more. Pulling off at the next exit to report it. This was long before cell phones were common. God kept his gun pointed up and protected us as we drove by.
Shortly after we moved onto our current house, shots were fired in front of our home as an angry wife chased her husband down the street, the back doors of his van swinging open as bullets flew through. He jumped out and dived into the ditch that ran down the side of our property, hitting the foot bridge I had just built that was chest high, falling over the waterfall just below it, while the woman fired shots at him from her car. The policeman who showed up would not even get out of his car for fear of being shot at also, and just talked her into going home to cool off. How foolish to think we can live one hour on this earth without the protection of God who loves us.
I currently write about how God has watched over us, and how great He is. When I walk past the back pew, I shake their hands and give the boys sitting there a big smile as I remember the time I sat on the back pew.
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