Of all the absent minded, stupid stunts, I've ever pulled, this one takes the cake. Only because, "You can't die until God's purpose is fulfilled", did I live to tell about it.
In 1976 we were living on the Sunchild Reserve in Alberta, Canada, and we moved 'across the river' into a log cabin that we had built. The location was a beautiful area where people had once lived, but when the new roads bypassed the area, and people gave up their horse & wagons for cars, it had been abandoned. The many reasons we had for doing this is beyond the scope of this article, but it was an interesting place to live, and the only real option we had at the time.
Our vehicle was a 4-wheel drive International Travel-All. We had built a log bridge across the river that was 70 feet long, including the ramp. We had to ford the river before we got the bridge in, and although the headlights would go under water when the river was high, the International always made it through.
One day I had to change a u-joint on the Travel-All, and I made a ramp to get the back of it up off the ground, so I could have lots of room to get under it. I backed the truck up on the ramp, which was quite steep, and because of this I had made it so the back of the truck was right up against a large Poplar tree, so I could hook a chain around the tree and onto the truck to secure it. I was afraid that blocks in front of the front tires wouldn't hold it. It looked awkward with the back high up off the ground.
I believe that is as far as I got that day with the job, and it would have been the next day when something happened to divert me from the project. I'm not sure at this point if someone came to us for help, or if we had gotten another vehicle we had stuck. Either way, I needed the chain that was holding the International up on the ramp, so I took it off the truck. The vehicle stayed in place, with the back high up on the ramp, because it was held there in gear. Whatever the activity was that day, it took all day. In fact it seems like it was actually several days before I got back to the u-joint job, and that is probably why I forgot that I had taken the chain off.
So with blissful ignorance I crawled underneath, and with my body laying on the ground at the base of the ramp boards, I proceeded to take the clamps off the u-joints. The only thing keeping the truck up on the ramp was that it was in gear, and that meant that all of that force was on that drive shaft u-joint. That pressure caused a bind, holding it from coming off. Whether my mind had been dulled as part of the design to cause all this to happen, or if I was actually that stupid, I really don't know. At any rate, when I couldn't get it to come off, I thought it was just kind of rusted in place or something, and I got a pry bar, or a big screwdriver, and proceeded to pry it apart. As hard a time as I was having, it all should have been obvious, but I never caught on. It is so common to have odd difficulties working on old equipment, it is just to be expected that every step is often frustrating.
Somehow I succeeded in prying that u-joint off, and of course the truck instantly rolled down the ramp, and International made those trucks heavy. If it had rolled on my chest, stomach, hip, or knee it would have killed or crippled me. Instead, I was far enough under that it rolled onto my leg, just below my hip which was the only place it could have gone without certainly killing or crippling me. I was working alone, and I have no idea how long it would have taken for Karen to find out I was in trouble.
I knew instantly when the truck started to move what I had done, and I must have had a strange sense of fate, rather than anger at myself, or even fear of getting crushed. But the element of surprise was great enough that I'm not so sure of all I felt in that instant. I do know as clearly as I know anything, exactly what happened after that, though.
The truck came down the ramp and rolled onto my leg and stopped! As soon as it stopped...it rolled back up the ramp far enough to give me time to roll completely under the truck, out of the way of the wheels! If my mind had been dulled before, it certainly was quickened to know exactly what to do now, as fast as I needed to, because if I had tried to go the other way I would have been killed, and with the shock of what happened I could easily have done the wrong thing. As I pulled myself under and rolled on my face I hugged the ground hoping the differential would clear me, and it did. It didn't touch me at all as the truck rolled over me and far out into the field.
At this point in my life I have come to believe that we should testify to things that God does in our lives, even though it may be impossible to understand hardly anything about it, and even though many people who live in ignorance of God's works would ridicule it. Why the truck didn't just roll over my leg, I do not know. How it could stop and roll back up that steep ramp like I know it did, could only have been God. Why that didn't confuse me, but instead I had the presence of mind to do exactly the right thing to save me, was also God. This incident was so bazaar I can't remember telling anyone about it, but it fits into God's Sovereign Purpose, and is an important part of that design that has unfolded over the years.
I did go to the doctor to see if there was any damage done. He told me I had muscle catusion, but the bones were OK. This meant that much of the muscle was destroyed, or really smashed up. It didn't feel too bad, so the next day or so I packed up my camp gear, and rode horseback about ten miles out in the wilderness to hunt elk. About the time I got to my camp spot, I knew I was in trouble. I guess the destroyed muscle in my leg was poisoning me, and I got very sick. With much difficulty I set up a little tent and went to bed.
It hurt so bad I couldn't hardly do anything, and it hurt so bad I couldn't even feel all the pain as I was in some kind of shock. I had a very strange experience that night. I went to bed and was absolutely positive that 8 hours or more had gone by, but when I went outside, (I'm not sure I could stand up) and looked at the stars, only one hour had passed since I went to bed! So I went back in and suffered through another 8 hours,and went outside again, only to find out that only one more hour had passed! This went on all night, and made that one night last an entire week! Obviously that was all due to my sickness.
When morning did come, I didn't see how I could make it home. I don't believe I could stand up and walk, at all. It seems like I had to crawl. How I got my horse packed, and how I ever got myself in the saddle I really can't remember, only that somehow I managed to do the impossible. Then I had to ride the 10 miles home. My weakness and pain was such that I was sure I couldn't do it. I actually couldn't set on the horse with any certainty that I could stay there for a matter of seconds, but I got all the way home. The night lasted a week and I think the ride home lasted another week!