4 Inches From Eternity

It has been quite a day for personal reflection and consideration. You see, I was almost killed today, and that is no great exaggeration. In the process of narrowly avoiding death I was reminded of two significant truths that have been ringing in my ears all afternoon.

I greatly enjoy riding my motorcycle. I’ve been riding motorcycles almost my whole life; I got a little 50cc, no clutch shift dirt bike as a gift from my grandpa for my fifth birthday and have been riding ever since. I currently ride a pretty beat up Honda Shadow Sabre that I bought for a song a couple of years ago. It’s a great bike and it gets around 40-45 mpg, which is triple what my big ol’ diesel pickup gets. So I ride whenever I can and enjoy it.

Today I was headed to school and about to cross through an intersection I have driven through hundreds of times. It has three lanes in the direction I was going. The light was green in my direction, but the far right lane had a stack of cars piled up because someone was crossing in the crosswalk. The far left lane had 3 or 4 cars in it as well, some headed for the left turn lane. I was in the middle lane with no one in front of me, doing 45 and enjoying the cool of the November air. (it was probably in the low 60s this morning…gotta love Arizona)

Then things went bad in a REAL hurry. A car in the left lane decided to make a right turn. So he pulled into the center lane and stopped, then put his right turn signal on and waited for an opening in the right lane that wasn’t there because of the wait for the pedestrian. At the time I was, oh, 30-40 feet from his rear bumper.

I hit the brakes, but I was in the center of the lane near the intersection. (big mistake) There’s lots of oil in the center of the lane near the intersection, so my back tire promptly locked up. I’ve been riding for almost 3 decades and taken two defensive motorcycling classes, so I know that if you lock up the rear tire the thing to do is keep it locked up and slide to a stop. If you don’t you high-side the bike, (because you go over the “high side” of the bike) which looks like this:

The problem was that the second I realized that I was sliding I also realized that if I kept it locked up I would slide into the rear of the car at about 35 mph, which would probably be bad on my skeletal system! So I let the brakes go. The bike waggled a good bit but thankfully I didn’t go over the high side. I got control of it about 10 feet from his bumper.

Now I was really on the horns of a dilemma. (Remember, all of this is happening in under a second) I had a car stopped in front of me, cars stacked up to my right, and I knew I had a car to my left too. I just wasn’t sure if the car to my left was in my blind spot or had backed off. With no time to consider, I yanked my bike onto the lane stripe and wordlessly prayed that I could squeeze between the two cars.

I passed the moron careless idiot reckless driver at about 30mph; I missed him off my right side by about 4 inches, though I didn’t exactly have my ruler out to measure.

The funny thing for me is that right after I got back into my lane I thought about pulling over so that I could have the adrenaline dump that I knew was coming. Then I thought about it again and realized that my heart rate wasn’t even up! It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to be scared.

Instead I thought, “Well I should have died this morning…but I didn’t…that means it’s going to be a pretty good day!” I had a good time teaching this morning, a great lunch with my wife and a friend, and a great appointment with a man who is seeking a path to God and asked me for help.

I would love to tell you that I have mad riding skills and should have won the Monaco GP last year, but that is not reality. No, I understand what the real deal is, which Psalm 121 sums up well:

1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;

From where shall my help come?

2 My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

4 Behold, He who keeps Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;

The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

6 The sun will not smite you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will protect you from all evil;

He will keep your soul.

8 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in

From this time forth and forever.

I know why I survived this incident and I have no illusions it was my stunning motorcycling skills. It is abundantly obvious to me that God’s not through with my life on earth! I was also reminded of what James tells us in James 4:14-16,

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

None of us gets a guarantee of tomorrow, or even the rest of today! Trust me, He has my attention.

Now to cook dinner, see my wife’s parents who are visiting, and play a game of chess with my son.

After I ride that motorcycle home.

6 thoughts on “4 Inches From Eternity

  1. I know exactly how you feel and praise the Lord that a miss is a miss no matter how close it is. I've been hit once…in Phoenix…on a bike back in '82.
    Now have more close misses than I want to talk about but thank God every time that He still wants me here on earth.
    I've smoked the brakes on my current Harley a number of times as I skidded under control around some bozo doing something foolish.
    I'm also past the adrenalin pumping issue as it's happened enough times that I react like I practice and it's over with before I can even think about it.

  2. I'm glad I didn't get dead too, (thanks for the hug today; makes me weepy thinking about it) and I would like to think that being careful is what saved my bacon this morning. Trust me, though…lesson remembered!

  3. holy poop!!!

    when I read your FB status this morning, I thought you were having one of those days where you're just grateful to be alive — which I'm sure you are, but I didn't know there was this kind of catalyst involved! I'm glad God still has plans for you here on Earth, because I'm greedy and like having you around. Thanks in advance for continuing to be careful on the road!

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