I fell off a ladder the other day.
I had the whole afternoon planned out: tools gathered, and my wife set time aside to help me. I just needed to collect a few odds and ends atop a storage platform in the shop. I congratulated myself on how nimble I felt, climbing the extension ladder and maneuvering around building materials 12 feet above the concrete floor.
No hand railing around the edges…
I started to back down the ladder, grabbing the top ends with my gloved hands. But as I stepped on the second-from-the-top rung, the ladder shifted, slid and … fell. I flailed to seize something other than thin air, and latched onto the edge of the platform, hanging like an ape.
I remember thinking: “This one is serious.”
A heavy set of moose antlers swung from a rope against my chest. Years ago I had suspended the rack below the platform, to store it out of my work space. Now it dangled in my air space, thwacking me with its tines.
If I fell, I was bound to ricochet off the equipment below. My chubby body swung forward and a horizontal support hit my forearms, prying my hands loose from their grip. Shock engraved my mind as my fingers let go…
Beneath me an old tire changer with 2-foot vertical iron stems aimed up at me. In its day, the rusty-red machine had clawed off thousands of obstinate rubber tires. I pitched downward toward it, back-first. I might easily have centered on one of the spindles, like an old wheel.
A sharp-cornered iron table (hacked from quarter-inch sheet iron), stood on one tubular leg at the head of the tire changer. It was my pulpit for cold chiseling nuts or reshaping metal.
The shifty aluminum ladder had landed in the narrow aisle (about my shoulder’s width) between these two pieces of equipment and an aging compressor.
My breathless call echoed weakly, like the blow of a toddler’s plastic hammer on steel. It was my last conscious word—a question more than a cry for help.
Silver confetti splashed across a black sheet for an instant, and when I opened my eyes the ladder and I faced one another, both on our sides.
Dropping through the air plays havoc with the senses. In a split second I completely yielded to consequences — I had no physical power to adjust my trajectory; no way to “think” my way out of the inevitable collision.
And, I certainly had no time to contemplate meeting God.
I turned my head, oh so slowly, toward motion above me. The moose antlers rocked side-to-side, like invisible demons teetered on each end. I prayed aloud now. Nothing profound, but with a child’s voice: Jesus… Lord Jesus… God… Help me…
A cool shivery feeling stole over me, but all my extremities worked when my brain told them to move. I reached into my pocket, and my cell phone was still intact.
I thought, Something must be broken. Something must be ruptured.
“Carol. Don’t be afraid. I took a fall, but I’m okay…”
My wife ran from the house, and I painfully tested every limb again as she helped me to my feet.
We silently stared at the narrow cleft amid jagged pieces of equipment. I had landed between the shop tools precisely, like a pencil set firmly into its holder. How could I have escaped breaking bones? I had thumped the concrete floor like a sack of Alaska spuds.
A week later I am still pretty sore…
And now I have a choice: To let the lesson of God’s mercy fade away—as my black-and-blue bruises will—or sharpen my commitment to Jesus who preserved my body and brain for his reasons.
My Savior is involved in every blink of time.
He [Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
He is here. He was there. He is the Master in every moment.