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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Loaded hay wagon at the Northwest Lancaster County Antique Tractor Expo
Old wagon with loose, scrappy hay.

"A Consideration Of Close Calls"

Message summary: Aren't you glad for the many ways that God protects as evidenced by our recollection of close calls in addition to the many "near misses" we're completely unaware of. Peace triumphs over our fears when we realize our lives are safely in His loving hands!

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

Wheel and axle from Vermont garden cart"And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night" (1 Samuel 19:10). "The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety" (Acts 27:44). "My times are in Your hands" (Psalm 31:15a).

Yesterday I had a close call, one of those moments that in retrospect was very stupid, but it sure got my attention, Brooksyne's as well. The safest way to expose a folly is to expose your own. I have given myself permission to share this.

I was trying to remove the wheel from an axle that had been on a small garden cart. The wheel was stuck on the axle so I placed it on the ground and pushed down with all my might against the wheel. Suddenly it came loose and slid down the spindle causing me to lose my balance. I fell into the spindle due to the momentum and the end of the axle went into my neck.

Neck injuryIt really, really hurt and I fell against the fence in pain. Brooksyne was also working outside at the time and came over. She was worried that the swelling could cut off my airway so she took a photo for reference just in case we needed it later, should medical intervention be required (a loving wife she is). I still have the mark on my neck and a very sore throat but otherwise I seem to be OK. I've thought since then, had I exerted even more force, I could have done some really serious damage or worse. And, to add to the "What if?" line of thinking I am very thankful the steel end was not pointed!

The term "close call" describes "a narrow escape from danger or disaster". In aviation they use the term "near miss" when two planes pass dangerously close to one another, barely missing a mid-air collision.

I recall a safety meeting years ago at a construction company (Smucker and Sons) where Phil Givler, the safety director, encouraged the men to consider inevitable close calls and how they can learn from them by reviewing the steps that preceded the close call and consider the safer course of steps to prevent a potential accident.

All through life we have close calls, those experiences in life where we were within seconds of mere inches from disaster. Some, like my experience yesterday, we recognize and acknowledge how close we came to something serious happening. But we also have unrecognized near misses when we are unaware of how close we came to danger, such as a drunk driver or one distracted by texting who comes close to colliding with us but we were oblivious about the near miss.

Some close calls may be due to our own stupidity, carelessness or rebellious living, others due to circumstances beyond our control. In some cases we can learn from them and in all cases we can express gratitude to God for His hand of protection while also teaching us much about our sovereign God and also teaching us about the accidental and purposeful choices we make!

Do you recall any close calls you've encountered? After considering them do you find yourself doubly grateful to God, but also soberly troubled by the question, "WHAT IF"?

Ron DiCianni has an amazing ability to paint an image based on Biblical stories. In his art depictions he often creates people in modern dress and the picture just seems to come alive. He writes, "It will be interesting to one day find out all the near misses and unexplained detours God brought us through".

Saul throws spear at DavidToday's texts refer to close calls. The first concerns David who had many close calls! After his amazing victory over Goliath he became immensely popular and Saul became insanely jealous. The latter part of 1 Samuel describes this period. The daily text is one attempt by Saul to kill David but he escaped. "And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night."

Ship wreck in Acts 27 In the second text Paul and many others had been in a ship wreck that could have very well resulted in the loss of many lives. "The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety." This was according to the promise which was made by Paul in Acts 27:22 that no lives would be lost.

Bible teacher Albert Barnes writes,

"This was done by the special providence of God. It was a remarkable instance of divine interposition to save so many through so long-continued dangers; and it shows that God can defend in any perils, and can accomplish all His purposes. On the ocean or the land we are safe in His keeping, and He can devise ways that shall fulfill all His purposes, and that can protect His people from danger."

Aren't you glad for the many ways that God has protected through the "many dangers, toils and snares" of life? Our recollection of close calls in addition to the many "near misses" we're completely unaware of reminds us of God's steady care. Peace overcomes our fear when we realize our lives are safely in His loving hands!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: 
Father, daily we entrust our safe keeping to others as we venture out on the highway, as we eat food provided by total strangers, as we take medicine that could bring about disastrous results rather than healing. When we use time-saving power tools or electrical gadgets we are at the mercy of modern inventions and other people, the vast majority of them being complete strangers. Whether it's the driver of the subway or pilot of the aircraft, whether it's the children obeying the crossing guard or a doctor prescribing a cure for what ails us or if it's a soldier looking to his comrades to cover for his safety, we rely on these animate and inanimate objects everyday and yet, as believers, we more fully rely on Your providence, Your knowledge, Your power and goodness to care for us in dangerous settings. What reassurance we garner as we realize that You are always watching and caring for us. And when our time on this side has expired You are there waiting to usher us to our eternal abode where no danger lurks, no sins defile and no sorrow awaits us. Praise be to Your holy name forevermore. Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Perfect Peace"  Video  Laura Story has quite a story. A very successful songwriter/singer was married only a short time before her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor that has left him very dependent over the years of their marriage.

"He Will Hold Me Fast"  Video  Selah  What a song of blessed assurance! The Story Behind the Song  Video

"My Life is in Your Hands"  Video  Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir  

"Christ Redeemer"  Video  written and performed by Nate Marialke

I (Stephen) have compiled a partial list of known close calls in my life:
  • The time I took my Dad's Chrysler Newport out on a gravel farm road west of Belton Missouri to see if I could go 120mph. I could! (And Dad never knew, though it occurs to me that he probably does now that he's in heaven.)
  • The time I was on an Oklahoma highway coming back to campus after a weekend ministry trip and dozed off and awoke in the median strip.
  • The time I misjudged how fast a train was coming when approaching a grade crossing and was much closer to disaster than I should have risked.
  • The time we were returning from a youth convention and I lost control on an ice covered bridge in Pennsylvania and my car went careening out of control heading straight to a stranded car pulled over on the median across the bridge. Only divine intervention helped us regain control as Brooksyne cried out to Jesus and fellow church members in a van behind us called upon Jesus to save us. (This weekend we expect to see Tom and Marsha Neizmik who were with the youth in the van and prayed for us.)
  • The time I was working on a car when the jack slipped and the car dropped down moments after I had been working under it.
  • The time Tom Schatz and I removed some trees on a church property in northern Pennsylvania and one fell onto a high voltage power line, resulting in what sounded like a sonic boom.

Brooksyne's Memory of a Close Call: My family was at Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma with neighbors over a weekend when I was about 9 years old. Two of the young boys about my age were fishing and a cork floated off into the distant water. Knowing they couldn't swim that far they let it go. I thought I'd help them out and recover the cork (a little showing off as well). But I swam out so far I became exhausted and started to sink. The boys alerted their dads so they swam out very swiftly and pulled me back to safety. I was so relieved, though I was thoroughly embarrassed. Of course, in my more mature years, I'm way beyond the embarrassment and thoroughly grateful for God's intervention.

"In My Seat" - A Pilot's Story from Sept 10th-11, 2001  Video  Near misses are a sober reminder of how fragile life is. Steve Scheibner, a pilot who was scheduled to pilot the first plane that was hijacked on 9/11 and crashed into the World Trade Center. He has a dramatic testimony of a near miss. We rejoice at God's hand of providence in the near misses we have experienced all through life and realize He must have plans for us to stay on this earth a bit longer. However in the entire scheme of things a failure to experience a near miss is also a part of life. In fact Tom McGuinness, the pilot that took Steve Scheibner's place was also a Christian. See here.

In Acts 12 we rejoice at Peter's near miss of being executed by Herod and his deliverance. But in that same chapter his fellow disciple James was beheaded.

Shortly after moving to Lancaster County a newly married youth pastor died when a church van he was working on ran over him. I thought of my own close call when the jack slipped on a car I had been working under just moments earlier. Why one has a close call and the other has a different outcome is one of the mysteries of providence. But as believers we are victorious either way: "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." God takes care of us and provides for us on both sides of eternity - it doesn't get better than that!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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