Sunday, May 10, 2009

Grace for a Picnic

Yesterday our school celebrated its 27th school picnic.  We drove up to the Slippery Rock Baptist Camp, and by 3:00 in the afternoon kids were playing softball, volleyball, basketball, and paintball.  Other than the wind the weather was perfect.  All were in good spirits.  It was going to be a great afternoon.  

Suddenly a worried teacher came rushing out from behind the gymnasium.

"Where's the nurse?" she asked.

I didn't know.  I wasn't even sure we had a nurse present.

"What?" I responded.

"Where's the nurse?  Where's Mrs. Webber?" she asked again.

Thankfully I'd just seen the lady strolling across the field.  I pointed the direction, and we both began jogging.

"What happened?" I said.

"The top of a tree broke and fell down on Travis."  

In my mind I pictured a five or six foot branch falling from a tree and knocking the poor tenth grade boy on the head.  The nurse would check him over, bandage any scrapes, ice any bumps, and declare him fit for the rest of the day.  

Moments later we found the nurse and were entering the paintball field.  Though still a ways off I could see a crowd had gathered around the boy.  Two women walked past me.  Both were crying, and one was trying to comfort the other.  I heard someone shout, "We called 9-1-1!"  

What was going on?  Suddenly I guessed my mental image was far from the truth.  

I saw Luke Jones, another of the school teachers and the camp's caretaker, hurrying back to the scene.  

"Luke, I'll direct the ambulance in while you check on the scene."  Luke knew Travis well, and I thought he'd be the best person to stay with the kid.  I ran to my car, threw it in gear, and took off down a back trail towards the front of the camp.  The trail would take me close to where the top of the tree had fallen.  When I pulled close to the accident I had to stop.  "The top of the tree broke and fell on Travis," she had said.  It was no five or six foot branch, but rather the top two-thirds of the tree.  A huge thirty foot mass of leaves and branches lay stretched across a clearing in the woods.  I could see staff, parents, and students trying to pull the tree off the boy.  
A few minutes later the ambulance was following back down the same trail.  I wanted to keep the ambulance from driving through the center of camp and only raising the level of panic.  Dan Gwilt told me later that one of the fourth grade students had run through the camp shouting, "He's done for!  He's going to be paralyzed for life!"  

Only when I got the EMT's out to the scene did I realize there were two students struck by the tree.  A second ambulance was on its way.  I led the second ambulance back as well, and by that time the emergency personnel was loading Travis, who was more seriously injured, onto a stretcher.  

Alex (the second student) was taken to the hospital only to be sent home a few hours later with a brace and bottle of pain killers.  Travis' injury required more attention.  Taken to the hospital in Butler he was diagnosed with trauma and internal bleeding.  They then transported him to one of the hospitals in Pittsburgh.  Jeff Gwilt, our youth pastor, and I were about to drive down to see him when his grandfather called.  He's ok.

This morning I received even better news - He's coming home this morning.  Home with his mom for Mother's Day.  

Yesterday, after the ambulances drove off one of the workers came to me.  "Ken, if that tree had fallen just a few feet to the left or if Travis was standing just a few feet to the right we'd have had a hearse here, not an ambulance."

All that said . . .  I have to ask . . . is it well with your soul?  God chose to spare the lives of these two boys, but what if he had allowed them to die.  Where would they be at this moment?  Heaven?  Hell?  It's given to all men once to die and then the judgement.  What will be the result of your judgement?  Heaven or hell?  You can't cheat death.  It can come at any moment.  A tree, a car, a bullet, a fall, a sickness, heart attack, seizure . . .  The moment after our heart stops where will you be?  

Is it well with your soul?  Are you right with Jesus Christ, Creator God?  


phasejumper said...

Oh my! I'm so glad he is better! How scary!

Zia's Photography said...

Wow! Praise the Lord He chose not to take Travis that day. Thank you for this reminder on how short life is.