Ever see one of those scenes in a movie where someone gets killed, and then their ghost gets up and walks away, leaving their body behind? I had an experience that felt like that in a weird way not too long ago.
We were vacationing up in Pulaski, New York with some of our best friends in the world, when we went down to check out a waterfall we heard was incredible. It was something of a hike down, so Alex and Diana stayed at the top with Dar, and Ana and I worked our way down the rocky trial, getting down to the falls just after everyone else.
The scene was breath taking, like stepping into another world. The Salmon River Falls are about 110 foot high, encompassed by a semi-elliptical cliff of various sized rocks. At the bottom of the cliff were rocks that looked like perfect benches for sitting, so that’s what Ana and I did, and we began stringing up the practice weight to her new Barbie fishing pole.
But just as soon as we sat down we heard the crack of rock hitting rock. For a second it didn’t register because people had been throwing rocks all week. But within a split second it was clear that rocks were falling from the sky all around us. And I’m not talking about little pebbles, these were some large, substantial rocks. Easily more than 10 pounds. I saw one crash about 5 feet in front of us and shatter into pieces and somewhere in the mix one grazed my leg. It is terrifying and shocking to find yourself getting showered with rocks.
But the thing that was utterly terrifying was that Ana was just screaming her lungs out, and I had no idea if she was seriously injured or not. I don’t think I’ve experienced such suffocating fear as not knowing if my child is safe. I tried to ask her if she was OK, but it was no use – she just wailing out of her mind. So I grabbed her up and tried my best to cover her head with my hands and torso. Greg yelled to run the away from the waterfall, which we did and found ourselves in safety, outside the reach of the stone cliff.
Once everyone got to safety, we were kind of in shock. Everyone was saying they were OK, no major injuries. I ended up with some scrapes and bruises on my left leg. But I found myself choked up immediately after– I couldn’t even speak. Ana had been sitting immediately to my left, just where that rock had grazed my leg. What if one would have hit directly on the head, cracking her skull, like those rocks that had cracked all around us? The thought was too much to bear.
Once I began to regain my composure, I was able to thank God for sparing us. I also didn’t want Ana to be too traumatized by the whole thing, so we stayed for a while and continued practicing with her Barbie fishing pole. Apparently the attempt to calm Ana down worked: when we rejoined Diana back at the vacation house, all Ana recounted was her excitement about casting and not the fact that we almost just got stoned to death. Later that night we had a chance to reflect on the whole incident with Keith sharing some insights.
Some would chock our safe return up to random chance, but I do not. I believe God spared us, or better – God preserved us that day. And what if that’s true? What if Ana or I or both of us should have died that day, but we didn’t, upheld only by the hand and grace of God? What would it mean to think that every day going forward was a special gift from Jesus Christ, given to us to enjoy Him and to serve His people?
I believe that’s what happened that day, and that indeed, every believer in Christ, is the “living dead” – in a good, not-creepy way.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
It was a sobering reality to experience how fragile life can be that day. But I think we should live with that profound sense of sobriety, realizing that we stand on the threshold of eternity every single day. And that’s not a depressing thing; it’s a realistic thing. And it’s something I hope will drive me to inexpressible gratitude for every day I have to honor Jesus for purchasing me into his eternal kingdom.
“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)