The Fragility of Life

My last post chronicled the repair efforts to my son’s motorcycle. I’m glad to say that it is running well. We are still battling spark plugs that foul every four days. The last time was Saturday night. The motorcycle runs great then all of a sudden, it quits. Seth called at about 10:30 pm and said his bike quit running. I went to pick him up and we put the bike in the back of my truck with the intention of looking at it after church the following day.

We had a great Easter service. The church was full, there was great music, we had flowers, we had someone accept God’s free gift of salvation and joined the family of God. It was an absolutely picture perfect day. Beautiful blue sky, warm temperatures. We came home and ate a wonderful Easter meal with friends.

After lunch, I told Seth that I would look at his motorcycle. I pulled the plugs and cleaned them and put them back in. The bike cranked right up. Seth’s eyes lit up and said, “Let’s go for a ride.” I made a few phone calls to get our riding buddies together. Five of us took off on what promised to be a great time together. We rode in an area with no houses and new asphalt. We made several laps around a giant circle. We stopped to chat and I set some ground rules and reminded everyone to ride safely.

Robert was in the lead with John, Seth, me, and Bruce following. When I came around that last curve, I didn’t see Robert, but saw John slowing down. I thought Robert had gone around again. Seth slowed and stopped as did I. I thought it strange that John stopped. I thought maybe was something was wrong with his motorcycle. It is always supposed to happen in someone else’s group. Tragedy had struck. No one crashes that rides with me. I am an ardent supporter of formal motorcycle training. I am a graduate of the basic and experienced rider courses offered through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. We ride in control. We ride safely.

When I saw Robert laying in the grass and dirt just off the road, my initial thought was, “Robert did not crash.” I quickly got off my motorcycle and ran to Robert. John and I got to him about the same time. Robert was moving and John and I both told him to be still. Both of are trained in basic first aid and we both knew there could be something seriously wrong with his neck. Seth called 911 and I called his wife. As a pastor, I can tell you there is just about nothing worse than informing a loved one of an accident or other tragedy.

The ambulance came and took my friend, one of my sheep to the hospital. One of the shepherd’s jobs is to protect his sheep. Did I fail the Lord? Did I fail my friend, one of our church members? Many things come to mind as you replay the events in your mind. What could I have done differently? Bruce and I went to the hospital and met his wife. We sat and waited together for word about Robert. It was a busy day in the Trauma Department. Three gun shot wounds and a very serious car accident that resulted in one person suffering a broken back in three places. Robert’s injuries were of lower priority. Small comfort when no communication is being made to Robert’s wife.

As I sat in the small waiting room of the Trauma Department, the Lord reminded me of some very important concepts that we often take for granted. We don’t know what is around the next corner; we don’t know about tomorrow; in fact, we don’t know if tomorrow will come. James 4:14 reminds us that, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” We must live our lives with the expectation that Jesus could appear at any moment and we need to be about the Father’s business. Too many of us live for a tomorrow that may not come. We’ll start our diets tomorrow, we’ll spend more time with our children tomorrow, we’ll pay off our debts tomorrow; we’ll get into the Word tomorrow; we’ll start serving the Lord tomorrow. As Christians, we must live for today. We make grand plans for our lives and inform the Lord what we plan to do and then expect Him to bless it. If our desire is to live as authentic Christians, we need to start with right now. Do you have a list of all those things you plan on starting tomorrow? Pray for the Lord’s guidance. Seek Him first. God does not want to be your last resort, He wants to be your first choice. When we ask, God will often rearrange our priorities.

Contextually, we need to look back one verse in James. James said, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:13-14) James speaks of big plans. When we went by Robert’s house to get him, he had just cut the grass and taken a shower. He poked his head out the door of the house and said he’d be ready in a couple of minutes. He didn’t know what that afternoon would bring let alone tomorrow. Today, five days later, Robert is at home. He’s in a wheel chair. No, it’s not like that. In the accident, he broke his right ankle and left wrist. It makes using crutches rather difficult. He also fractured two ribs and bruised his liver. This past Tuesday, an orthopedic surgeon attached a plate in his ankle. It will aid in healing. The prognosis? Three months with no weight on his ankle. It could have been worse. Robert is an experienced rider. He too, graduated from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s basic rider course. He was wearing his helmet, riding jacket with armour, gloves, long pants, and boots. He suffered a small scratch on his right arm. We praise the Lord that He had His hand on Robert. Robert will make a full recovery. . . . and will ride again. Why did he crash? He ran over some gravel in the road while in an aggressive lean on a curve. It was an accident. It happens. . . . that’s why we dress for the crash and not the ride.

What about Robert’s Suzuki SV1000? It didn’t fair as well.


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