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Chased By My Car

Remember how God spared your life and your brother Mark’s on February 26, 1977. I pray that you were saved to serve Him. Never stray far from him. You have difficult years ahead. Live them for his glory. Love Mom

I have recently been listening to a series of podcast from the MacArthur Center for Biblical Exposition. As many of you may know, Dr. John MacArthur is one of my favorite Bible teachers and has had a tremendous impact on my spiritual growth and development over the years. I began listening to the Grace to You radio program back in 1982, some forty years ago, and in many ways what I am today in terms of my Bible teaching ministry and Christian life has been shaped by John over those four decades. When I first began listening, I would make every effort to hear each message and when I missed one of the broadcasts, I felt I was missing something important. As a result, I invested in a timer, and a cassette recorder, that would turn on at 7:30 every evening for a half hour and tape the radio program on my local Christian radio station WCRF. In fact, I still have many of those recordings from the early 1980’s in my library today.

Back to the present. What I found fascinating in one of the podcasts is the story of how John MacArthur was called to preach. He was on track to play professional sports, but during a trip to Alabama he was in a car accident that resulted in an extended hospital stay. It was during that stay his life changed course and he became the pastor and preacher he is today. What was so “freaky” is that I had much the same experience as he did, at about the same age as he was, the only difference being my experience was far less painful than was his.

As he recounts his story, he was with some other students on a missions trip when the car he was in flipped over on the highway, and he was thrown out the door and slid down the road on his back. His cloths were torn off by the friction with the roadway, and his back was severely injured with a lot of the skin scraped off. He had to spend some three months in the hospital while his back healed during which time he made the decision to become a preacher. In his own words, God got his attention and he listened.

In my case it was a bright, sunny day in late February of 1977. My brother Mark and I were headed off to church. The roads were clear of snow and ice, and we decided to go to a small town on the way to church for some food at the Burger Chef (which shows just how long ago this was). A couple of miles from home the road takes a shallow turn, and it was there that the highway crew had left a large pile of snow by the side of the road. Since it was a sunny day, the snow had partially melted and washed down over the road right on the curve, and then had refrozen making a twenty-foot patch of ice. For miles in either direction the road was bone-dry, but on that curve, it had become an ice rink.

I remember going around the curve at a somewhat reduced speed which probably saved us from serious injuries – but even then, I was going fast enough that when I lost all traction on the curve the car began to fishtail severely finally turning sideways on the road. The next thing I remember, and I still remember it as if I was there, is that I saw by brother Mark fly out the passenger side door followed almost immediately by myself. We both slid down the road on our backs, and I distinctly remember seeing my car coming at us sideways sliding on the road. Why it didn’t hit us is still a mystery to me, but I think what happened is it caught the side of the road, went through a small parking area by the side of the road, and backed around my brother and myself lying there in the road, finally parking itself in the front yard of a home between a telephone pole and the sign for the curve – and stalled. It not only missed us, but all the telephone poles, road signs, and fences along the way.

Since it was winter, and my brother and I had on our winter coats, we were not injured and I did not lose any of the skin on my back, rather it just tore my winter coat a bit. I remember getting up from the middle of the road (Mark and I did manage to stay in our own lane) and looking around for my Bible and books. I was able to locate them, and even today I still have the Bible with the road damage and my Greek New Testament all scraped up from sliding down the road. The only thing we couldn’t locate was Mark’s glasses, but after going home and recounting our adventures, my mother and I went back, and we did manage to find his glasses by the side of the road.

We did get to church later that evening, and I remember distinctly recounting this story to the youth group. I was very much aware that my life had been spared and that God has some purpose for my life other than becoming a scientist. Had there been cameras by the side of the road there would have been a lot of discussion as to how this special effects shot was pulled off (looking back I was always wondered where the Candid Camera crew was hiding). CGI had not been invented at that time, and we did not have stunt doubles. Had we attempted a second shoot, it would have probably ended in serious injury if not death. My only explanation is that it was God’s grace that prevented my brother and I from serious injury and allowed us to walk away with little more than some torn clothing.

I am no John MacArthur whom I consider to be the Charles Spurgeon of our time, but I do find it very coincidental that being chased by our cars was a major turning point in the direction of our lives. Even though he became one of the best-known preachers of our time, and I became a Bible teacher, we both have remained faithful to our different callings.

In memory of my adventure that February day, my mother wrote the leading quote of this blog in my Parallel Greek New Testament.

A precious reminder of one of the major turning points in my life.

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