Oh yes, I did.
Wiped out, pancaked, crashed and burned.
Me and asphalt – new friends.
Would you like to hear the painful story?
(If you're saying yes, shame on you! However, I would also say yes…)
I celebrated my birthday several days ago.
I turned 62.
"The Hub" and I decided it would be fun to go out of town for a couple of days to celebrate. And, when you’re celebrating, you might do some out-of-the-ordinary things.
One day we went antiquing. (I am very lucky that my husband enjoys doing this with me! A birthday gift in itself!)
We had so much fun!
Sometimes we saw things that we remembered our mothers or grandmothers having, sometimes we saw toys from our childhood, sometimes we saw things that reminded us of our high school years.
It was a great day.
We spent over six hours traversing all the stores, perusing and pursuing potential treasure.
The next day I wanted to go on another sort of adventure – I wanted to go on a bike ride – even though my antique-aching legs were protesting.
We don't go bike riding too much.
For one thing, living in the mountains makes it more difficult. Nothing is flat, and the hills are steep. And, I am "incline-challenged." Anything more than a 0% rise in elevation and I am toast.
So, it's been several months since I hopped on my bicycle seat.
But, where we were planning to ride our bikes was ALL FLAT.
You can go for miles, and that was our plan.
Things went well for quite a long time.
I enjoyed the fresh air, the cool breeze, and the wonderful sights and sounds.
I enjoyed feeling like a kid again…and since it was the eve of my birthday, this was important.
"Ha, ha, 62 years old – take that!"
(Pride cometh before a fall…)
It was just after we had turned around, maybe a good three miles into the journey, that I made a fatal error in judgment.
We re-encountered a small circular area where bikers and skaters and walkers came to a meeting place.
On our way through the first time (on the going-out phase of our trip), I stopped and got off my bike.
"What are you doing?" my husband asked.
I pointed to the sign that said something to the effect, "Bikers must walk their bikes in this area."
"See," I said. "And I'm a rule-obeyer."
Yes, well, consider that statement foreshadowing.
When we returned to this area, I didn't feel like stopping. I was feeling pretty cocky about my skills at that point. Feeling kinda *fit* in spite of my long bike-riding moratorium.
I saw that there were hardly any pedestrians in the circular area.
And, I noticed a little "driveway" next to a parking area where I could quickly ride through without getting off my bike.
So much for rule-obeying.
Thing is, this little driveway had a bit of a lip in it. Not much – maybe only an inch or so. But not completely flat.
I remembered distinctly that it was important to approach and ride through this type of obstacle head-on.
You see, years and years (and years) ago, my dad and I used to take long bike rides together from our house to his parents' apartment in the next town. It took about four hours to make the trip. Which, in my humble opinion, was pretty impressive as I made the journey on my *one speed, me speed* Schwinn!
But, there was this one trip when he attempted to cross some railroad tracks.
A little too parallel, not enough perpendicular…and BOOM!
Things probably would have been OK if he'd been on a mountain bike. Those big tires would have saved him. But alas, he had tiny little skinny *racing bicycle* tires...
(For the record, this incident is not to be confused with the time that he fell when traversing a pothole hidden by blowing sand. Or the time he crashed into a bridge over a small canal at the beach – a place where for years, every time we went over the bridge, my sons would say, "Look! There's Papa's paint!"
In my dad's defense, this incident is also not to be confused with the time that he told me to ride really fast to get up a hill, and not to worry about whether he was behind me. Well, I did, and turned my head to look back. My handlebars followed my lead. And no, my dad wasn't behind me – he was beside me. Yeah, that.
Nor should this incident be confused with the time that my dad had me hop on his handlebars to ride around a bit. This, after admonishing me to keep my feet up. Well, my legs grew tired, I dropped my feet, right into the spokes of the front wheel. Ahem...)
So, lesson learned, right?!
Fast forward 50 years, and I remembered this incident, but perhaps not completely enough.
I approached the little driveway at about a 45-degree angle, which I (inaccurately) figured was "enough of an angle" to negotiate it just fine.
While I did get up and over the lip, it sent my handlebars gyrating in an out-of-control manner, and headed me straight for the curb only a couple of feet away.
"Houston, we have a problem."
In the next nanosecond that passed like an eternity, my mind raced through possible rescue scenarios.
If I turned sharply to the right, I'd avoid the curb – but the turn would have to be very sharp, and I'd crash.
If I applied my brakes, I might avoid the curb – but the stop would have to be instantaneous, and I'd crash.
I distinctly remember my next thought, "I am going to crash. How badly am I going to get hurt?"
And then I did.
Taking a sudden fall is a weird thing.
One second you're up, and the next second you're down.
Your brain is like a stunned computer – unable to initially process what just happened. I had a couple of seconds of preparation, but the moment you find yourself on the ground, something just "does not compute."
I remember looking at the sidewalk – up close and personal.
I remember thinking that "The Hub" was going to be so sad to see me like this.
I remember feeling all the pain, especially my right knee.
I tried to get up, but couldn't move.
And then, my hero was there.
With tears in his eyes he plaintively asked me, "What happened? Are you all right?"
Well, yes and no.
Thankfully, I knew that I had not hit my head, had not broken any bones, had not sliced anything open, had not knocked out any teeth.
But I knew I was hurt.
My loving husband helped me up, and we slowly – oh, so sloooowly – walked over to a place where I could sit down.
I remember feeling kinda dizzy and very nauseous.
And I remember the pain.
My body – and my injured pride.
That might have been the worst – the knowledge that I had made a mistake, even though I knew better. That I had chosen not to obey the rules and do the safe thing. That I could have prevented all of it.
I thought about my dad.
My dad, the one who had given me such sage advice about bikes.
And yet, the one who had a reputation for being accident-prone himself.
I could almost hear him saying, "Sharon, what a knothead."
(Takes one to know one…??)
Well, how does the story end?
I had to ride my bike the three miles back to our car. I returned to the hotel room, took some ibuprofen and iced my knee.
The next day was my birthday.
And instead of counting candles, I counted all the places that hurt…
"One, two, three…sixty-two…and one to grow on."
What spiritual lessons could I draw from this?
Well, there's the obvious –
Be sober-minded and alert.
Be careful to avoid false pride.
Be obedient to the rules.
But, the other day as I was driving in the car and listening to a local Christian radio station, I heard something that hit me right between the eyes.
They had a man sharing his story.
He said that he always listened to the radio station every day on his way to work.
But on one particular day, he listened and his heart was moved. He decided to turn his life over to the Lord, not just as his Savior, but as the Lord of his life.
Later that same day, on the job, he fell 26 feet into a pit…landed on his stomach…and lived.
He recounted how several of the workers in the bottom of the pit said that they saw angels soften his fall.
He ended his story with this line:
"Angels kept me from falling as hard as I should have."
I ponder this.
After my fall, I was hurting.
But I was also grateful.
Things could have been so much worse. My injuries could have been terrible. And though my pride took a blow, in the end, I was still relatively intact.
I wonder now – did God send an angel to protect me?
Years ago I read Frank Peretti's two classic books, "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness."
And I vividly remember one scene when a car careens down a mountainside, narrowly missing a head-on collision at one point. Later we get to see behind-the-scenes, and find out that an angel kept the car from crashing.
A timely angelic shove to safety.
But I wonder…
Could this have happened to me?
Maybe, maybe not.
I have no need or desire to enter into a theological discussion or debate over the individual work of angels in the life of a believer. I don't know enough to say for sure that we are each assigned our own personal guardian angel.
It matters not, perhaps.
What matters is this – I do believe that sometimes God allows bad things to happen to us, but they are kept from being as bad as they could be.
Think of Job.
Twice God limited the scope of what He allowed Satan to do.
"'All right, you may test him,' the LORD said to Satan. 'Do whatever you want…BUT…'" (Job 1:12, NLT)
"'All right, do with him as you please,' the LORD said to Satan. 'BUT…'"
(Job 2:6, NLT)
We may never know this side of eternity how many times we are protected in our circumstances. How many times we are spared, saved, rescued, shielded, preserved, delivered.
How many times the worst-case scenario could be so much worse.
How many times we don't fall as hard as we should.
This is the spiritual lesson that I have drawn from my bike accident.
That God is my Protector, and I thank Him for the many unknown times when He just may have saved me from injury or disaster, from pain and sorrow, from certain death.
He alone knows the times appointed for me.
And nothing happens too early or too late.
Nothing happens outside of His watchful eye.
Nothing happens beyond what His hand allows.
Nothing happens that is not for my ultimate good.
I have learned another step of faith and trust – which ironically happened when my steps were hindered by the pain of an accident.
God has ways of teaching His most precious lessons.
Thanks, Father, for teaching me…
Do you have a story when God protected you from *something worse*?
Be thankful the photo choice
It could have been
"These bruises make for
Everybody loses, we all got bruises
We all got bruises."
("Bruises" by Train)
"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14, NIV)
"For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands…" (Psalm 91:11-12, NLT)
"He will guard the feet of his faithful servants…" (1 Samuel 2:9, NIV)
"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them." (Psalm 34:7, NIV)
"In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them…" (Isaiah 63:9, NIV)
"'See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you.'" (Exodus 23:20, NLT)
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13, NIV)
"Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety." (Job 11:18, NLT)
"…let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." (Psalm 5:11, NIV)
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