Joseph Herrin (09-29-2011)
Having heard about the accident I had when an elderly lady in her 90s ran into me while I was riding my motorcycle in Macon, some wrote to ask about the motorcycle. They were curious whether it had sustained damage, and was still functional. I imagine that the curiosity regarding the condition of the motorcycle has been partly due to some saints seeking to understand what the parable might be in this event, for surely there are no actual “accidents” in the kingdom of God. Everything is with design and great purpose.
As you can imagine, I too have been pondering very much the motorcycle collision and resulting injury. I continue to ponder these things in my heart, waiting upon the Father to give me a clear understanding of the matter. Randy Simmons told me that since this accident occurred at the entrance to a Krystal’s Hamburger restaurant, he was confident that the Father would make all things “crystal clear” to me. I have certainly been perceiving the Father’s hand in using this experience for my perfecting as a son, but I have not yet arrived at that crystal clarity of understanding that is anticipated.
Regarding the motorcycle, you may note in the photo above, which was taken just a few days prior to the collision, that I had added a windshield. This made the ride much less tiring, and also is of much benefit in keeping bugs from impacting the rider.
The impact of the collision was low speed. The car’s front bumper made contact on my left leg just above the ankle and pushed me and the motorcycle over where we both ended up on the ground. There were people who responded immediately, rushing up to check on my condition, but no one touched the bike, though it was laying on its side and leaking some gas from the tank fill spout. I would have preferred that someone had set the bike upright, but I suspect no one wanted to touch anything until the police had arrived and taken in the full picture of the accident scene.
Even after the ambulance and police arrived, the motorcycle was left lying on its side as the medical workers attended to me, and prepared to transport me to the hospital in the ambulance. Shortly before they loaded me up I heard a pop from the vicinity of the motorcycle, and someone informed me that the windshield had just cracked. Leaving it laying on the ground, the pressure on the plastic windshield finally led to it fracturing. The only other visible damage to the bike was that one of the turn signals broke when the bike hit the ground.
The day after I was released from the hospital (I was only in for 48 hours), my daughter took a young man with her up to Macon to retrieve the motorcycle which had been taken to an impound lot. The young man, after removing the broken windshield, was able to crank the bike and ride it back to Perry some 30 miles away. The motorcycle rode fine, and the damage appears to be limited to the windshield and the single turn signal.
A brother in Christ came down to see me shortly after my release from the hospital. When he heard that the motorcycle sustained very little damage, and was very much functional, he shared that he did not believe the accident really had anything to do with the bike. (I will mention that this brother and his wife both own motorcycles themselves.) He said that if God were sending some message of disapproval of my having a motorcycle for transportation, he believed the bike itself would have sustained more damage, and would have been rendered inoperable.
This brother asked me if I anticipated riding the motorcycle again. I told him that my own soul’s inclination in the matter was one of indifference. I told him that I personally would not be disappointed either way. I recognize the dangers inherent in riding a motorcycle on streets dominated by cars and trucks, where drivers often fail to drive carefully and neglect to pay heed to motorcycles. I certainly would not relish being in another accident. I told this brother that the Father knew that my having a motorcycle was not an idol in my life. I was content to do without one for almost two decades until I sensed Yahweh opening up the door for me to purchase one. Even then, the decision to purchase a motorcycle was arrived at after considering the fact that I could not tow a car and my cargo trailer at the same time, but I could tow the trailer while carrying a motorcycle mounted to the rear of the bus.
I had often told the Lord that I would be very content with a small tow vehicle, if I had some way to pull it behind the bus. I think the vehicle I have enjoyed the most among those I have owned was a Geo Tracker. This small, four wheel drive, Jeep like vehicle with a removable top was both economical and a pleasure to drive. Used ones are not that expensive, and I would have been very happy with such a vehicle. Nevertheless, as I was anticipating traveling in my bus and visiting prisons to conduct ministry, I could not see any way to tow a car and a trailer at the same time.
I share this to state that purchasing the motorcycle was a means to an end, rather than a pursuit of some desire of the soul. I would be content with whatever the Father chose to provide, as I still am.
At the same time, I shared with this brother that I did not want my decision regarding riding the motorcycle to be predicated upon fear. A part of me would say that there is too much risk involved, and would deem the risk something to be assiduously avoided. Yet, I am continually searching my motives, desiring to divide between soul and Spirit. Even as it would be error for me to choose to ride a motorcycle apart from the leading of the Spirit, so too it would be wrong for me to refuse to do so apart from the leading of the Spirit. In our lives, there are many paths God will lead us down that will result in injury, persecution, or suffering. I mentioned the example of the apostle Paul in yesterday’s blog post. Paul was led of the Spirit in his missionary journeys. He went where Christ directed him, and it resulted in much injury.
II Corinthians 11:23-27
Are they servants of Christ? - I speak as if insane - I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
Consider that Paul was shipwrecked three times. Ships are a form of transportation. They were also dangerous, especially in Paul’s time. This was before radar and satellite weather forecasts, and one never knew what weather conditions they would meet with on the seas. Paul could have arrived at his destinations by traveling over land. The Roman road system was fairly extensive and safe at that time. Paul, however, did not base his decisions on what was safe. He resisted the impulse to let fear dictate his actions. Even after experiencing shipwreck twice, he continued to travel by ship, and was eventually shipwrecked a third time. (He actually had no choice this last time, for he was being transported as a prisoner of Rome.)
What is interesting to note, is that ultimately it was Yahweh who chose Paul’s mode of transport. This is indisputable during the occasion of Paul’s third shipwreck. Yahweh told Paul ahead of time that he would be arrested and taken to Rome. Paul could not control his circumstances. He actually perceived that his sea journey would end in great loss, and Paul advised the captain and Roman centurion of this, but they did not heed his warning. Paul could only yield to be carried along, submitting to the experience of being shipwrecked one more time. Nevertheless, in all of these events, Yahweh spared Paul’s life. Indeed, having survived his third shipwreck, Paul was bitten by a viper, and those watching thought he would surely die. But Paul shook the serpent off in the fire and manifested no ill effects from it.
What these experiences reveal is that those whose lives are directed by the Spirit will experience dangers, persecution, and at times injury. We cannot allow a fear of injury, and a desire to avoid it, to be what guides our decisions. Therefore, I told this brother in Christ that I would do whatever the Father revealed to me to be His will. Even if obeying the Father resulted in further injury, I could not refuse to follow that course He appointed to me.
There are times when Yahweh shows us that suffering is ahead of us, and we have to choose to accept it and not turn back. Such was the experience of Yahshua in Gethsemane as the Father made known to Him that He must shortly be beaten, scourged, and crucified. Paul also was on occasion told ahead of time that he would suffer as he followed Christ, but these things did not move him.
“And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Yahshua, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
What a magnificent attitude this is described by Paul. Paul’s overriding intent was to finish the course the Father had appointed to him, and to fulfill the ministry entrusted to him. He could not be influenced by whether doing so would result in injury, suffering, imprisonment, or even loss of life. Paul knew very well that following Christ, rather than being a guarantee of a safe and comfortable life, promised many afflictions and much suffering.
As I have meditated upon this motorcycle accident, I have pondered many questions. Will the decisions of my life be based upon the counsel of my soul, or upon the leading of the Spirit? Some would argue that Christians are to “use their heads” and to employ “common sense.” I sincerely disagree. The Bible testifies that “there is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof is death.” The right way to man is a path devoid of injury and suffering. The human soul would choose a comfortable path, but Christ testifies that the path that leads to life is an “afflicted” path, and “few there are who find it.”
Please note that I am not advocating choosing a dangerous course, anymore than I am advocating choosing a safe course. What I see as the example of Christ and His disciples is that they simply left it to the Holy Spirit to direct their course, and they accepted whatever He chose for them.
Have you embraced the practice of dividing between the voice of your soul and the voice of the Spirit? None can follow in Christ’s steps unless they embrace a Spirit led life. This requires that they quiet the voice of their soul which very often shouts loudly at them urging them to a course that is in opposition to the will of God. Whether our soul is advocating the pursuit of some desire or passion resident within, or whether it is shouting at us to be driven by fear and an avoidance of suffering, we must not heed its counsel. The disciple of Christ is to manifest a life directed by the Spirit.
Do I have some trepidation in my soul when I think of riding the motorcycle again. Certainly I do. I sustained a serious injury the last time I rode it. Some knowing the danger of being ruled by fear would suggest that I should be like the rider thrown from a horse, and get back on as quickly as possible. Although I perceive some wisdom in this counsel, ultimately I must know what Yahweh would direct me to do.
If vehicles represent ministry, and surely they do, then I know that I cannot permit fear of suffering to keep me from getting back on the motorcycle any more than I could refuse to fulfill the ministry given to me out of fear of suffering. I have twice been jailed now for not being able to fulfill a judge’s order to lay aside the ministry and return to secular labor. There was no rebellion in my heart in these experiences, but rather a desire to remain true to the calling of God on my life. The Spirit, as He did with Paul, showed me ahead of time that I would be put in jail. I could have avoided this experience by laying down the ministry and heeding the counsel of the soul (both mine and others). Such soulish motives are unworthy of Christ, however. Christ declared, “No man can be My disciple unless he hates... even his own soul.”
While I was in the hospital I was told that I would have to stay off the leg for two weeks, and then I would be given a walking cast for another 8 weeks, followed by physical therapy. I saw so many different medical workers in my two days in the hospital that I don’t remember who told me this, but it has proven to be incorrect.
Last Tuesday (September 20th) marked two weeks since my wreck, and I had a doctor’s appointment that day. I met with the orthopedic doctor who performed the surgery on my leg. X-rays were taken, and he showed me what he had done. The injury was more extensive than I had originally been told. One large screw had been placed at the bottom of the large leg bone (the tibia) at the ankle, to correct a fracture there. There were multiple fractures of the smaller leg bone (the fibula).
Bones of the Legs
The fracture of the fibula actually ran up the bone beginning at the ankle and ending about 2/3rds of the distance to the knee. The doctor had put one small metal plate at the bottom of the fibula, with another metal plate (the largest they use) overlapping it slightly and running up toward the knee. The doctor told me that due to the length of the fracture and the plates and screws he had to put in, that he had to make the longest incision of his career on my leg. This incision was healing up fine, and he had an assistant remove the stitches while I was in the examination room.
Of more concern was an area on the inside of my ankle where one of the bones had gone through the skin when the collision occurred. The doctor had washed this area out really good and stitched it up on the night of the injury. The skin was black around this area, and he pointed out what he called “edge necrosis” where the skin was dying in some spots. He wanted to watch this area closely to make sure it healed up, and he gave me a prescription for antibiotics to ward off infection.
There is also a large blood blister on the top of my foot. The doctor called this a “hemorrhagic fracture blister.” He said he preferred to just let these heal by themselves. It is quite a large blister, being approximately 3" x 5", according to my rough estimate.
The doctor informed me that it would be 8-10 weeks before he allowed me to put any weight on the leg. This will make the recovery time quite a bit longer than I anticipated, so it does not appear that I will be going anywhere soon.
I had been staying with my daughter Kristin since being released from the hospital. She has been taking good care of me. I was confined to the bed, having to keep the leg elevated. Kristin would fix me breakfast in the morning, and also prepare me a lunch, before heading off to work. She would then fix me supper in the evening. It was good to spend time with her, and we played Scrabble together which is something we both enjoy (although Kristin doesn’t enjoy it when I win).
Yesterday Kristin moved me back into my bus. She has to be gone for three days this week-end to attend a wedding, and I had been getting increasingly mobile on crutches, though I still have to keep the leg up most of the time. I felt that I could manage by myself in my bus, since everything is laid out very conveniently with little distance to travel. I did fine last night and this morning, and am confident that things will progress well. Kristin, and perhaps Randy, will be coming by from time to time to help me with things I cannot do by myself such as washing clothes, buying groceries, and handling my mail.
I do want to comment on one remarkable aspect of this experience. When I saw the extent of the injury, the multiple fractures, and the metal plates and more than 15 screws that had been put into my leg, I knew that by all rights this should be attended by significant pain. I am no stranger to breaks, having been born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which is commonly called Brittle Bone disease. I have now had approximately a dozen fractures in my life, and some have been quite painful.
The most painful injury I had occurred in my thirties. I slipped on wet wax at work and broke my right ankle and incurred a partial tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee. The knee in particular swelled up tremendously, and the pain was intense. I wrote about this experience in the writing Evidence of Things Unseen. I explained how the Father used this experience as discipline for an area of my life that had not been brought under the obedience of Christ. As this was chastisement, it was appropriate that it be quite painful in order to teach me to not transgress in the same area again.
A remarkable aspect of this present injury has been the absence of significant pain. When the injury first occurred, and I found myself lying on my back beside the road, I was fully alert and aware of what was going on around me, but I had absolutely no pain from the injury. I knew I was injured, and I even knew it was a serious injury, but I had no sensation of pain.
After the surgery, laying in the hospital, I had some pain, and they gave me pain medication, but even then the pain seemed to me to be less than it should be. The doctor would come in and touch my toes and ask me to wiggle them, and there seemed to be no problem with the nerves, there was simply not much pain.
My daughter took me home the second day after the accident and she picked up a pain prescription for Hydrocodone on the way. I took one pill that first evening, and have not had another one since. The physician’s assistant who saw me Tuesday during my appointment was quite amazed by this. I assure you it is not because I am exceptionally stoic, but rather that the Father has been very gracious and merciful and has shown me much kindness in my recovery. Truly, Yahweh’s mercies are new to us every morning.
I do appreciate the many brothers and sisters who have been praying for me. No doubt, your prayers are availing much on my behalf, and for this I am very grateful.
I would mention one last thing. This occurred yesterday upon my return to my bus. I have mentioned previously that on the morning of the day of my accident I had posted the blog titled Why Does God Require Christians to Suffer. I left the house around noon and traveled to Macon to visit with an elderly brother in Christ. About 4:30 P.M. as I was returning home, I was struck and injured.
I had not been back to my bus since that time, until yesterday. I have a desktop computer that I use in the bus, but when I am away I use an older laptop, which I had with me when I was at my daughter’s.
Last night I turned on the desktop computer and I noted that there was an e-mail that had been sent to me at 2:22 P.M. on September 6th, the day of my accident. I was in Macon at the time, visiting with the elder brother, and I never read the email until yesterday. The e-mail was from a sister in Christ who resides in California. The Subject line of her e-mail was simply “re: Afflictions.” This was followed by the words of Paul that I cited in yesterday’s blog post.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."
I had actually quoted the same words from Paul’s letter to Timothy. Paul, I believe, was making reference to the words of David above, from Psalms 34:19
II Timothy 3:10-11
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me!
In the post I commented that Paul is not stating that he was spared from suffering, but rather that the Lord preserved him through the suffering. Paul was able to endure, and not shrink back.
People of God, as we follow after Christ, we will be afflicted in many ways. There will be persecution, rejection, material loss, mocking, slander, homelessness, sleepless nights, hunger, injury and many dangers. These things are appointed for the sons of God, but God truly will walk with us, and sustain us through all of them. He comforts us with much comfort so that we can comfort others. I pray that these present experiences of suffering will result in a greater manifestation of Christ in my life through compassion and comfort shown to others who suffer.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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