I will never forget the first time that I had my life flash before my eyes.
Has it ever happened to you?
I was spending my summer working in northern British Columbia as a tree-planter and had just finished a long day of work. My crew and I were waiting for a pickup to take us back to the base-camp. We usually passed the time chatting, eating something left over from the lunch we had packed for the day, or just quietly relaxing.
On this particular day, however, two or three of us had decided to explore the area a bit and found a deep rock pit nearby. We descended into the larger hole in the ground by way of “surfing” down the rocks which slid out from under us and transported us to the bottom like a pre-industrial escalator. Wanting to share our find with the rest of the crew, we called out to them, inviting them to come and see the crater we had discover.
What came next was unexpected, although in hindsight I suppose it was predictable. A couple of the guys decided it would be fun to pick up some of the rocks scattered at the edge of the pit and throw them down at us. Others soon joined in.
I will admit, it was a bit of a laugh as the first few stones were hurled down. Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush that seemed to accompany the landing of each one. But as the rocks got closer and closer, things in the bottom of the pit got real serious, real fast, and the laughs quickly faded away.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more helpless. More powerless. More afraid.
As the rocks hit the bottom of the pit, some were exploding and launching pieces of shale which peppered us with dust and stung the exposed skin on our arms and legs, not to mention our faces which we were now trying to shield with our hands.
That’s when the “tape” played and life seemed to flash. I actually feared death at that moment.
But something else happened too — three things actually.
First, I became much more passionate about living. I realized afresh that life was worth living and I started to declare it loudly and clearly.
Secondly, relationships became very important to me and I quickly picked out those “friends” at the top of the pit to whom I would call out to for some rescue. Those whom I trusted my well-being to, hoping that they would intervene for me and stop the stones from raining down.
Finally, I became very humble, very fast. It is incredible how being powerless can take the pride out of you and wash the arrogant self-confidence a way.
Fast-forward to just a few weeks ago. I was reminded of the rock pit incident while reading a Bible story found in John 8 about a woman caught in sin and, based on the laws of her time, facing a death by having rocks thrown at her until she was killed. At the conclusion of the story, she is rescued by Jesus who says to her, “neither do I condemn you …Go now and leave your life of sin.”
My guess is that she left, given a second chance at life, with much more passion, not wanting to waste a moment on anything but what mattered most to her.
My guess is that she immediately went to those most important to her, either letting them know how valuable they are, or with a heart to making things right if the relationship was broken.
My guess is that she had a more humble heart afterward, knowing that life is fragile and that having an encounter with God will bring everything — both immediate and eternal — into perspective.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12.
Dan King is the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church pastor to youth and young adults and a regular News columnist.