It was a summer day in 1974. One of those incredibly beautiful days when all is right with the world except deep inside, I was so empty, and so desperate for love and acceptance. The hole inside was huge in my heart and I was attempting to fill it with Schlitz Malt liquor, Southern Comfort whiskey and pot. I had my ’55 Chevy and this was my path to coolness and trying hard to be one of “the boys”.
A few friends and myself, drove through Grants Pass, cruising the gut. We felt invincible! I turned left onto Park St. where upon I gassed my Chevy: a strong running, perfectly balanced and blue printed small block engine. Instantly it roared to life. It absolutely set you back in the seat. But that night it slid into the car in front of me! Let’s just say my reflexes were “compromised”. I hopped out to see what kind of damage occurred. Neither of us could see any damage other than my left headlight was broken, so he left the scene, and I, unwisely, got back behind the wheel of my “hot” car.
I slowed down because I realized I was too “wasted” to drive that car, right? WRONG! I looked at that like my ticket to the drags... I took off wide open, power shifting two gears. Then, Bam! Third gear - Bam - about 75 to 80 MPH and out of nowhere, a black Chevy 4x4 pick-up backed out in front of me in that 25MPH zone! It wasn’t until later that I found out that it was my friend Doug McCornack. He said, “all I saw was a black flash go by.”
It's where the unexplained event still causes me to pause and wonder! My car did not handle well and it was jacked up with extended rear shackles and air shocks. I was only worried about “speed” in those days. The car swerved violently to the right narrowly missing the Chevy 4x4 pick-up. You see, I did not know there was a party going on there. People were everywhere!
The swerve was so severe it almost threw me out of the seat. In 1974, it was not macho to wear seat belts even if cars were equipped with them.
I’ll never forget the huge cloud of dust caused by the move we just completed. I realized it wasn’t me that made the car swerve. My reflexes were gone due to the continuous alcohol and pot ingested all day long. Stunned, I slowed down and limped my way home. Seven long years later I became a follower of Jesus Christ and I found a verse in Hebrews 1:14 that said “angels have to keep knuckle heads like me alive long enough to accept and follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (my paraphrase)
You might think it was a miracle that I was not in a wreck that warm wonderful Southern Oregon evening. And it WAS! Yes, it was. However, I was in 2 major accidents after that incident that were so serious, people remarked it “was a wonder anyone got out alive.”
The first one was with my friend who was driving a ’70 Chevy Monte Carlo and he totaled it that very night. The last thing I remember, due to my drunken & drugged condition, was to put on my seat belt as I got in the passenger seat. Another friend did the same. Unmatched tires and excessive speed caused a terrible wreck. When the car came to rest, I was unconscious hanging upside down.
I was not burned to death because gas was leaking out and sparks were flying everywhere. According to witnesses we had just passed, we appeared as a blur! The road was a narrow granite banked back road. We climbed a bank and started rolling, over and over; my face was being hammered into the ceiling of that hard top Monte Carlo. Again, it was not macho to wear seat belts in the ‘70’s, but I believe God answered the prayers of someone that night and I had the seat belt on.
Another time, I hopped in a ’55 Chevy 210 2 door post, with an acquaintance for a fun ride, or so I supposed. I was already drinking and as they say, three sheets to the wind, as was the driver also. I did not realize this was a “death run”! He had a fight with his girlfriend that rainy night in Grants Pass and he was pouring out his emotions by driving carelessly.
Of course, alcohol and drug use only add fuel to the fire. We slid off the road on Williams Highway near Espie Road and the golf course. We flipped one time and hit a tree right in front of my door. I flew out as the car buckled and bowed and wrapped itself around the tree. I was in and out of consciousness. I sustained a compressed vertebrae in my neck. But I could have easily been killed or spent the remainder of my life as a vegetable, if that tree would have been 2 or 3 feet back, my head hit that tree at 60 MPH or more.
I can’t wait to thank them for keeping me safe on the nights when I was filled with alcohol or drugs instead of the Holy Spirit. In fact, another time I came to consciousness one night while walking in Lake Selmac! I had no idea how I got there! I could have drowned in that lake. No one would have found my body until the next day or the next week or the next year!
Another time friends found me on my back vomiting, and they turned me over so I did not drown in my own vomit. As you can see, there were many opportunities for those angels. I am humbled by the grace the Lord has shown me.
Angels are actively involved in helping our Heavenly Father keep us alive to accomplish His plan for our lives. That is, if we will surrender to Him! I’m so glad I finally did, that He was so patient and allowed me to clearly hear the gospel (good news)!
You ask me how I am doing and quite often I will say, “Better than I deserve.”
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