But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:24
It was Thursday, January 16th, 4:15pm. I was snowblowing the driveway when it clogged. I lifted up the snowblower and dropped it on the ground several times to free the clog. On the third clog impatience and inconvenience took over as I reached over with my right hand to unclog it. I just tapped the top of the clog far way from the blades and in an instant it chomped off my index finger’s first knuckle and tore into my middle and ring fingers!
I screamed, “Lord, Lord!”, and ran inside to put it under cold running water. Mary Jean heard me scream from the driveway and knew it was serious. She came running into the kitchen screaming, “Jesus, Jesus! Help us!”
My brain, ever thinking its two main questions, “What is this?” and “What does it mean to me?” screamed, “How am I going to type for my living?!”
We called 911 and not wanting to wait started driving to the Falls hospital. The Falls police car came screaming towards us and MJ flagged him down. He said wait for the ambulance. It came and two paramedics took me inside and put an IV on me and took my blood pressure. They asked how I was and I said, “I’m fine; adrenalin is a wonderful thing!”
God’s grace was already at work! I felt no fear or pain, or anything lacking. I did recall God’s loving care for me and rested in the many truths from Scripture that the Holy Spirit brought to mind.
As we drove to Froedtert the paramedic typed continually on his laptop. We chatted a bit then there was some silence. I wondered what he was thinking about me. Perhaps it was, “Wow, this guy really hurt his hand; I wouldn’t want to be him!” I was thinking, “Wow, if he isn’t saved he’s headed for an eternity without Jesus Christ in hell; I wouldn’t want to be him!”
We made it to Freodtert and they put me on a gurney inside the garage. The young paramedic driver came around to the back and apologized, “Sorry for the bumpy ride.” I replied, “Oh, no problem! I didn’t notice. Never rode in an ambulance before.” He looked at me and said, “I could never be as courageous as you are!” I looked back at him replying, “It wasn’t me; that was God’s grace!” I get faint and queasy at the dentist.
They wheeled me to an operating room. The paramedics swung me onto the bed. I asked, “Is my coat here?” They said yes and he gave it to me. I said to them, “Hang on; before you go I have something for you.” They said they couldn’t take money. I said, “Oh, it’s better than that. Here’s a free ticket to heaven; hope to see you there!” The young driver said, “Oh, I’ve seen these before. Thanks!” The other one echoed his partner, “Thanks!”
They left and three nurses came in. They greeted me and I them, and I said, “I bet you’re here to give me a hand?” One laughed.
They got me hooked up with an IV and checked me out; any other pain? How does it feel? Etc. I felt great! The adrenalin was wearing off but God’s grace was still strong. They gave me a pain shot and took x-rays and I gave one of them a tract when they left. A bit later three young doctors came in. They discussed what to do and ended up deciding to operate right there in the room!
They left and then one came back to prep me. I thought the other two would come back for the surgery but the one guy did it all! Took two and a half hours. We chatted a while. A friend called and during the call I said, “Steve, can you believe it? I’m talking to you on the phone while having hand surgery and I feel no pain!” Quite amazing.
Mary Jean was on my left while the surgeon was on my right. We were praising the Lord, praying, and singing hymns.
At the end we thanked the surgeon and gave him a tract. He said thanks. The nurse came in and explained the meds. We gave her a tract and hoped to see her in heaven. The admin nurse came in and took our insurance info (we had just switched to Christian Healthcare Ministries- chministries.org) and we gave her a tract. The head of the Emergency Department came in to say hi and we gave him a tract. He said he wasn’t sure if he’d go to heaven when he died and as he walked out his professional demeanor changed to kind of a soft, somber, doubtful expression.
We left about 12:30am, went to Walgreens to get the drugs, then to Denny’s for an omelet, and arrived home at 2:00am. Ten days of disability started my healing, followed by exercises and physical therapy. Since then I’ve witnessed to several clerks when they saw my bandaged fingers and asked, “What happened to you?!” and others have asked, spurring conversations about eternal matters.
The first knuckle of my index finger is gone; my middle finger’s first joint’s bone was broken in eight places so they fused it and it won’t bend; and my ring finger’s nail bed was damaged but I’ll have full use of it, Lord willing. I guess now I’m officially an amputee, and I rejoice! I praise God for his love and grace and the faith He gave me throughout!
Some have asked me what was I thinking? I’ve thought about that and the answer is simple- the Bible; God’s Word!
So what were my choices of what to think and how to respond?
• I could complain but that would be like the murmuring Israelites after God rescued them.
• I could get angry at God for allowing it to happen. After all, if He’s a loving God He wouldn’t have let that happen. But I know that’s not true because He let His Son suffer and die on the cross and where was God then? Right were He was when He let me put my hand in the snowblower.
• I could reject the faith because He promised me an abundant life but that only happens to those who get preached the false prosperity gospel and aren’t truly born again because they ran to Jesus for a happy life instead of to escape the wrath to come (Ro 5:9) so they could be saved from their sins (Mat 1:21, Luke 5:32) and hell.
• I could have a pity party and feel sorry for myself but that’s deceitful fleshy thinking that’s selfish (Gen 4:5-7, Phil 2:3-4).
• I could feel less of a person now that I’m an amputee but that’s not true because believers are complete in the Christ Jesus! (Col 2:10)
• I could constantly look back and shake my head over my foolish mistake but it’s not wise to look to the past (Eccl 7:10).
• I could anxiously look to the future wondering how would I do my job and anything else that requires fingers but Jesus said to take no thought for tomorrow (Mat 6:31-32).
• I could look to God to speak to me personally and audibly but since His Word is complete I have everything I need to know! (2 Peter 1:3-4). God told us that Jesus has already spoken to us everything we need to live this life already in the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-2).
So I knew to walk in faith and not by sight or in the flesh, resting and waiting on him to strengthen me and give me the victory. As fleshy thoughts raced through my mind with the typical questions and statements I knew they were imaginations so I cast them down (2 Cor 10:3). I reckoned myself dead to the old man when tempting thoughts came (Ro 6:11).
Psalm 119:105 says, Thy word is a lamp unto thy feet and a light unto thy path. Romans 1:17 says the just shall walk by faith. Hebrews 11, that great chapter referred to as the Great Hall of Faith, twice in verses 2 and 39 says, “…the elders/and these all, having obtained a good report.” I wanted to give a good report and He was faithful!
I’m glad those verses dwelt richly in me (Col 3:16) through study and meditation (Ps 1;1-3, 2 Tim 3:16-17) because without them I would’ve been a wreck! But His Word of truth is my shield and buckler! (Ps 91:4b).
So I rejoice and thank God forevermore! (1 Thes 5:16, 18).
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. – Heb 11:1-2