My brother, Jeff, has made it his goal to keep checking on me since my recent cancer diagnosis.
He called me this last Thursday to find out what the surgeon had told me.
We probably talked a little over an hour.
During our conversation, Jeff mentioned that the trucks at his company all have the bumper sticker, “Safety Is Our Goal.”
I laughed and said, “That should be our country’s new motto! I’m gonna use that in my blog as the title.”
SAFETY IS OUR GOAL! ISN’T IT?
As a young man, long, long ago, I had no idea of the coming challenges, even dangers, or even losses that I would face in this life.
In 1975 when I worked for Dr Pepper, I was robbed at gunpoint by two men in South Oak Cliff.
In 1979, working for Pepsi Cola, I was told to take my loaded tractor trailer truck out for delivery during an ice storm.
As I was driving down a steep, icy hill, there was a guy in a car in front of me, facing the wrong way on the right side of the road.
He looked my way in horror, jumped out of his car, and ran from it.
I looked in my mirror and saw my trailer swinging past me on my right side.
It corrected itself when it smashed this guy’s car.
In the early 80’s I started my chimney cleaning, window cleaning business.
In 1984, at dusk, after a long 15-hour work day, traveling at least 70 mph, I drove under a large, unlit bobtail truck parked partially in my highway lane.
Just before impact, I saw a bright flash of light on the back of the bobtail truck.
Miraculously, and inexplicably, I found myself standing upright beside my little Toyota pickup, in the middle of Hwy 30 near Greenville.
My entire truck cab was sheared off.
I suffered only a cut to my scalp (3-4 stitches) and a cervical strain.
I joked that the angel must have twisted my neck when he jerked me out by the head. Wendy took me home from the hospital the next day.
I have discovered that Satan hates window cleaners and sends his red wasp “air force” after them on a regular basis. (Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but sometimes we do have to fight those demon red wasps.)
I have no idea how many times I have been stung (hundreds) but I can guarantee you there were dead demon wasp bodies after each one.
About 12 years ago, though, I had my first serious allergic reaction to the stings, so, I began keeping Benadryl and Epi Pens with me at all times.
One time, a builder asked me to power wash a metal roof.
I didn’t want to do it, but I bid it high, hoping he would turn me down.
He accepted the bid.
I got about 3/4 of the job done, when my pressure washer ran out of gas, so I went down to refuel.
When I went back to the roof, I had unknowingly gotten a little wet sand on the bottom of my shoes.
As soon as I started spraying the roof, my feet slipped.
Sliding on my back down the roof, trying to grab anything I could to stop the slide, I sliced the heck out of the tips of my fingers.
I landed on the deck, unhurt, but bleeding.
I wrapped my hand with a towel and duct tape, loaded my equipment and drove home. I did not finish the job.
Another time, I was cleaning a second story window from a deck, and, trying to save a step, I reached a little higher than I should have, and my ladder slipped.
I rode the ladder down, and would have been fine, except my heel, resting on the rung, took the impact and cracked in three places.
The owner helped me load my equipment, I drove home, and took off 6 weeks.
In 2018, as I stepped onto a roof, the ladder on my shoulder caught the top of my on-the-ground ladder, and knocked me just a little bit off balance.
I stepped back, hoping to catch myself, but instead, stepped onto air, and fell 12 feet onto my back, breaking 6-12 ribs.
I finished the job, had the owner’s son help me load my stuff, drove home, then went to the hospital.
Most recently, in July, my ladder slipped and I fell 13 feet, landing on a child’s wooden picnic table, which likely prevented my head from hitting the concrete floor.
(Thank You, God).
This time I broke my left scapula, and fractured and compressed my T4 vertebra. This time, I couldn’t finish the job.
I drove myself home, and Wendy took me to the hospital.
While there, a blood test found me to be anemic.
The anemia prompted a colonoscopy, which led to the discovery of a cancerous tumor in my colon.
Why I am I telling you all this?
I have spent my life working, trying to do a good job, trying to provide for my family.
I seldom went to the doctor, unless I had been injured.
Any one of these “accidents” could have ended my life.
The most recent injury may actually have saved it.
I could have decided that this job wasn’t safe and left these “dangerous” conditions long ago.
But I didn’t.
And neither would most of you.
All of us go through trials in our lives that disrupt our plans.
Plans for safety and happiness.
Loss of a job.
Loss of a home.
Perhaps even the loss of a child.
Yet, in those trials, we find something more precious than safety and happiness.
That God is ALWAYS with us.
He is ALWAYS at work in our lives.
Life is not safe.
It has never been safe.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 tells us “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD,….
In Isaiah 41:9b-10, God said, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off; fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
He tells His people “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.”
So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Heb. 13:5-6
In every one of these instances, I found myself to be enveloped in a supernatural peace. (Except for the armed robbery in 1975. That happened before my second birth and I was frozen with terror.)
But now, because I carry within me the image and Life of Christ, the trials of life prove to be just that.
Trials of life.
Stepping stones to a closer relationship to the God that I belong to.
I find His presence to be constant, always there, NEVER leaving.
Sometimes it is from within, a supernatural peace and strength to endure.
Sometimes it is from without, perhaps a member of His body holding me up in prayer, speaking life into my heart, or being the answer to a prayer offered up to God.
I told my brother, Jeff, whose wife died last Christmas Day from an 8 month battle with brain cancer, that in each one of our serious battles, we find the presence of God in the LIVING through the trials.
Finding our lives narrowed down to just doing the next thing.
To just surviving the next MOMENT.
That thing that we would never have chosen becomes the circumstance that changes the path we are on.
We find that safety and comfort and fear do not put us on the path of life.
But, as we go through this life, and its trials, we find His voice inside, saying, “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Ezekiel 37:27
SAFETY IS NOT MY GOAL!
The psalmist says to God,
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”Psalm 16:11 ESV
I cannot remember any time the Bible mentions how important it is to BE SAFE!
If Jesus is my king,
And He says, “Follow Me!”
And He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you,”
Then He will be my safety, my refuge, my strength, my strong tower that I run to,
to find a different kind of safety in a world that is filled with danger.
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
Psalms 46:1 NASB