Monthly Archives: July 2012

Under an SUV: My Thoughts

I recently posted a blog about how an SUV fell on top of me while I was under it fixing things. If you do not want to read the whole thing, the forth from the last paragraph explains what a miracle it was that I walked away with only a swollen wrist:

“After examining the scene, I am certain that God was watching out for me. I still can’t figure out how I got my head out far enough so it was not pinned under the gas tank too. My right leg ended up in the wheel well, but did not got caught under the axle. The car shifted just far enough to catch the corner on the tire laying on the ground which kept the corner up just enough. My left leg was far enough over not get caught between the tire and the car. If the car had shifted about an inch less, it would have landed on my ribs instead of the soft part of my stomach. I am certain this would have broken them and imagine my breathing situation with the weight of the car directly on my lungs.”

I have spent a lot of time thankful to be walking and breathing–trying to piece together how the accident happened in spite of the care I took to support the car before working on it and how it did not end much worse. I have figured out the chain of events that sent the car over and am wiser for it, but I am still amazed that I am not more hurt or worse.

I have spent much of my recent prayer time thanking God and asking why I walked away? God’s answer to my heart has given me new focus and strength, “because I am not finished with you yet!”

If I had a second life verse after Isaiah 6:8, it would be Ephesians 2:10.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

It is easy to become discouraged in life. I will never judge a missionary (or pastor) who packs up everything and walks away. I would be broken and pray for them to reconsider, but it is hard to live a life so deeply committed to selflessly loving people, only to have people despise you or approach you with selfish interests in mind.

You see the worst in people, but then there are those glorious moments when the saving power of Jesus Christ  transforms someone’s life. It makes you forget all the challenges and troubles and you see that God’s promises are eternally true and you have the best life in the world. You are walking in the good works that God has prepared for you.

Then, if you are like me, the routine of life settles back in. You drudge forward struggling to hold on to why all the hardship is worth it. The office is a mess, reports are overdue, people only care about you for what they can get from you, and it is hard to turn it all off long enough to enjoy time with your spouse and family. It is easier to hide behind television or music or the internet or video games or more work or whatever it may be that drowns out life. (my guess is that this is not unique to missionary work)

Ultimately, we forget that God has created us for a unique purpose that is the most satisfying thing in the world. I was in that place before the car fell on me. Nothing was noticeably wrong, but I was in a season of living on my own. I was making up myself the good things that God wanted me to do, and maybe I was even getting some of it right.

We are called to consciously live the life that God created us for and not just to stumble through it. And, to live like we are entitled to the next good thing that we are to do is arrogance. God as divine Creator has the right to order our lives, but in His divine mercy He gives us the option to make our own choices.

Still, it is inescapable that when God still has a plan for your life, He will lead, guide, and protect you into fulfilling that plan. It is tragedy to be unaware of this. God taught me this truth as He was preparing me for the work He has for me in Kenya. Recently, He gave me a reminder in the form of a 2 and a half ton SUV. 

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Under an SUV: The Story

Not to sound overly dramatic, but I could have died last week (or been seriously injured). I was working under the vehicle adjusting the suspension to make it more stable and changing out brake pads and disks. A slight miscalculation and the entire vehicle dropped off the supports while I was underneath.

To save my pride and before I get lectured, I did my best to make sure the vehicle was properly supported. As I was buying parts for the project I also purchased 2 nice 6-ton jack stands, which the vehicle was on before I started working.

So what happened? (You can skip this paragraph if the technical details will bore you. Basically I made an unforeseen mistake.). I was having trouble getting the axel to drop far enough (over $150 for a poor quality floor jack did not seem like a good investment at the time), so I used spring compressors to squeeze the springs and remove the spacers that were lifting the car too high. I was having a hard time reseating the spring while trying to release the spring compressors with the spacers removed, so I decided to use the car’s jack to lift the axel up until the springs were seated. The problem was that when I released the spring compressors, this lifted the body of the car above the one stand. It had rained earlier and with the soft ground, the jack and far side jack stand tilted and the car went over while I was still releasing the tension on the spring underneath the car. 

This has always been a fear of mine when working under the car. I have lived through this fear and I never want to do it again. My feet were sticking out the left side of the car and my upper body was completely underneath behind the rear axle.The whole car shifted to the left as the 2 remaining supports sank into the soft ground. One minute I was working, the next I was sitting in stunned amazement.

Everything happened so quickly that it took a few moments to take it all in. I was still alive and waiting for the pain of crushed bones, but in fact I felt fine. My toes and fingers still worked and nothing hurt. I quickly realized that I was stuck though.

Trying to remain calm, I yelled for Abby who was inside the house. She watched the car go over and was already sprinting outside. Knowing she would be panicking, I did my best to calmly assure her that I was fine (I do not think she believed me at first).

All the yelling left me short of breath, and I realized why I could not move. The fuel tank was pinned against my stomach. I could not take a full breath of air. Luckily, years of SCUBA diving has taught me how to control my breathing and not to panic when I cannot get air. Honestly, I think I would have felt more at ease if I was a hundred feet under the ocean and my tank ran out of air because I know the surface is just a swim away (I have had a mini SCUBA tank run out on me so I know what it is like).

I had no clue how long I would be under the car. In between trying to control my breathing, I am trying to instruct Abby and Rachel on how to get me out while trying to convince Abby that I am okay so she doesn’t go into premature labor. The jack was wedged under the axle, so I tried to explain to Abby how to find the socket to remove the farm jack mounted to our roof rack. We weren’t getting anywhere, so I refocused on yanking the car’s jack from under the axle.

Later, Abby told me that she was not going for the socket because she was trying to ask me how to remove the lock that I had forgotten was there. I guess she was trying to tell me that the whole time. I am going to accept that having a 2+ ton vehicle on top of me compressing my diaphragm is a reasonable excuse for not listening to my wife.

By the time I yanked the jack loose, a couple of the guards and at least one teacher had arrived at the scene and together they lifted the corner of the car as I scrambled out from underneath.

After examining the scene, I am certain that God was watching out for me. I still can’t figure out how I got my head out far enough so it was not pinned under the gas tank too. My right leg ended up in the wheel well, but did not got caught under the axle. The car shifted just far enough to catch the corner on the tire laying on the ground which kept the corner up just enough. My left leg was far enough over not get caught between the tire and the car. If the car had shifted about an inch less, it would have landed on my ribs instead of the soft part of my stomach. I am certain this would have broken them and imagine my breathing situation with the weight of the car directly on my lungs.

As I regained my breath, everything felt perfect except for my hand/wrist. It was not until I was free and the adrenaline went down that I realized how bad my right hand hurt. Rachel grabbed ice for me and we all sat down for Wednesday night prayer meeting. It was hard to lead with my mind still processing how the car even fell, but I was thankful for the time to relax and thank God for His protection with other believers.

I took pain killers and slept on the couch so I would not roll around. The next morning we went to the doctor to get an x-ray. It ended up being mostly soft tissue damage and the pain and swelling has disappeared rather quickly. Most importantly, I have still never broken a bone in spite of all the foolish things I have done.

Wish I had more pictures. I told Abby and Rachel that next time something like this happens, they should take pictures before rushing to help me.I was stuck under the other side, but you can see the jack stand that flipped, and if you look at the marks in the grass, you can see how far the car shifted. The last picture gives you a pretty good idea of what I looked like 🙂 (compliments of the Wizard of Oz)

Car Fell Over 2

 Car Fell Over

Wicked_Witch_of_the_East_is_dead

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