Here are three valuable lessons I learned from a brush with death in an actual real-life experience I had, where I was nearly killed and should have been.
Life is a Vapor
James wrote, “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). It did almost vanish for me on the day I was returning home from work several years ago. A car pulled directly in front of me, apparently not seeing me coming. I swerved to miss a van full of people and went into the ditch, where I commenced to roll my car several times in what is called the “death roll.” My car rolled about five or six times, sliding about 50 yards on the pavement upside down. I ended up being trapped in a car that I couldn’t get out of, being upside down. The paramedics were surprised I had lived through it. My car was completely crushed and totaled. At the moment my car was rolling, I thought, “God here I come. Is it my time now?” Today I know what the psalmist meant by “teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12) and to redeem the time we have left (Eph 5:16) because we have no idea when our lives will be over. Savor each day. Tell your family “I love you” every day!
Do You Believe in Angels?
I believe in angels, but I also believe in seatbelts; perhaps both saved my life. En route to the hospital in an ambulance, one of the EMT staff asked, “Do you believe in angels?” I said, “Yes, I should! I’m a pastor!” But I told them that I also believe in seatbelts. Maybe believing in both saved my life. Surely I have learned to be more watchful, for my life could end in an instant. I am much more cautious today, although I wasn’t speeding on the day of the crash. I always wear my seatbelt, anyway, and it saved my life. Or was it the angels? Or both? I won’t know for sure until I get to heaven.
God’s Not Done With Me Yet
After I was nearly killed–and the paramedics were surprised I wasn’t–my wife said, “Apparently God is not done with you yet.” Speaking for myself, I’m glad God wasn’t done with me yet, although it is better by far to be with the Lord than to be in my body. To be honest, after I hit 60 years of age not long ago, I too felt like Paul: “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil 1:23) because being “away from the body [is to be] at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). But that is not up to me. It is God who knows the length of my days (Job 14:5; Psalm 90:12), but it is obvious, as long as you and I are drawing a breath, God still has something for us to do.
I learned a lot from my brush with death. It made me value my family and tell them that I love them more often, even though I tell them that every day. It also made me realize that life is fragile and any of us could be gone in a second, but we still need to believe in seatbelts and angels. Finally, since I survived–and it looked as if I shouldn’t have–God must have had something else for me to do down the road; otherwise, I would have already been absent from the body and with the Lord right now.
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman[ssba]
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