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A Florida Boy's Survival Guide to an Avalanche






I haven’t returned to the Tractor Pastor Facebook page since I last wrote the entry on April 16th. But the Lord has led me back, and put my eyes directly on the words penned on that day.  When I read them, I was shocked. Let me explain, but before I do, let me explain my explanation with an explanation.


I have, out of a weird desire to see people kiss the face of death and then walk away, have had my reasonable share of watching and hearing testimonies from people who have been swallowed up by an avalanche and lived to tell the tale.  There seems to be an underlying story that happens in each case: they are caught off guard, typically with only minutes to figure out a survival plan (not like people schedule weeks out an avalanche encounter), they are swallowed up, they lose control and know it, they spiral around in a world of white for some time, they become aware that they are in danger, they have a small pocket of air that is keeping them alive, they know help is out there, all they can do is wait…and pray.  I live in central Florida and learn to outrun gators, so I don’t know how accurate this word picture is, but I am still going with it.


On April 13th, 2023.  While I was sitting at home enjoying time with the people I love the most, the underpinnings of my world were beginning to give way.  As I was enjoying life, unbeknownst to me, my mom was fighting to keeps hers, and she would lose that fight.


The last words I can recall my mom saying to me were, “Greg I am afraid I am going to die. I want to move back down to be with the kids in case there is not much time left”.  She passed a few days later at the young age of 62 from a heart attack that the doctor said would not happen as he removed the clot causing her heavy breathing.


I was very close to my mom.  She was one of those people that I could call at the end of a long day or in any emotional state and she would nurture me back into a good place with her words and care.  One of my favorite lines she would say is, “Greg you are just tired, everything is ok, you just need some sleep.”   I live with a lot of regret with how I treated her in my younger years.  I can still remember very vividly sitting on my back porch on the night of April 13th, literally trying to catch my breath, as emotions of regret, guilt, and sadness overwhelmed me.  All I wanted to do was to make sure she knew I truly loved her and that, as a mom goes, she did a perfect job in raising me and my 4 brothers.  But it was too late.  In that moment the avalanche was over, I was buried, and now I had to wait.  Wait for what?  I don’t know, maybe just the pain of the loss to fade away, maybe the feelings of regret to go away, maybe just wait out life till the Lord made his decision on mine.


When my oldest brother called me and told me shortly after dinner that evening, I was left in the feeling of what is described above.  I was immediately caught off guard, and my world came crashing down over me. 


This last year I have found myself sitting in the pocket of air reserved to keep me alive with just enough room to still ponder God, life, and everything in between.


Now, almost a year later, here I am feeling like the probe of the rescuers has just impaled my side.  “Easy guy, I have adapted to this life of captivity to my emotions and thoughts, your jabbing is causing me to be disturbed, plus it hurts.” 


As the hole from the rescuers poking device enlarges, I think about what my next move is.  Although I have no idea if my legs will work after the trauma, I can rest on one of my favorite passages;


Proverbs 16 says The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;  be assured, he will not go unpunished. By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.


To move forward, I must (although I still can’t fully) accept that God was in full control on the day I was swallowed up. (When I say I, I am hoping you are placing yourself in the avalanche too.  I am not writing a sob story, but hopefully a plan for those who are trapped and are waiting, plus it feels good to have a partner in misery).


Next, I must realize he is still in control.  If he wants me in a tomb of white, then so be it.  There is a lot to learn when life is on the edge; questions you will ask that you will never ask if you were in the shoes of the rescuers. Likewise, if he calls me out back into a world of new journeys and adventures, then I will go.


I get you, because I am just like you.  I am truly sorry if you have found yourself in a situation described above.  I feel for you and my heart truly aches to find you and help you out of it.  I do know one thing.  The rescuers are out there, and even in the midst of the tumbling turmoil, I know beyond any doubt, that I, no, WE are not alone. 

 

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I had no idea your mom had passed away. He was a precious woman. Thank you for being so authentic in sharing part of your story!

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