“Lessons From Near Misses”

February 16, 2016

Beatty's Turnpike Road farm 2/14/16 (Click to enlarge)
Farm along Beatty’s Tollgate Road in Lancaster County PA
(Click for larger view)
“Lessons From Near Misses”

Message Summary: Aren’t you glad for the many ways that God protects as evidenced by our recollection of near misses in addition to the many “near misses” we’re unaware of. Peace trumps our fears when we theoretically and experientially realize our lives are safely in His loving hands!

ListenListen  to this message on your audio player.

“The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety” (Acts 27:44).

Phil Givler (Smucker and Sons) 2/11/16Last week we attended a safety meeting for Smucker and Sons, a construction company where we serve as chaplains. Phil Givler was giving a safety lesson and suggested the men not only report an accident but also keep a record of “near misses”.  In this context he was referring to what we often label “close calls”; i.e., when one almost has an accident and is able to recognize it. Phil pointed out how we could learn, especially if we review our steps that preceded the near miss and consider the safer course of steps to prevent a potential accident.

The term “near misses” is normally applied in aviation when two planes pass dangerously close to one another, barely missing a mid-air collision.

All through life we have near misses, those experiences in life where we were within seconds or mere inches from disaster. Some are known near misses when we recognize and acknowledge how close we came to something serious happening and we also have unrecognized near misses when we are unaware of how close we came to danger, such as a drunk driver or one distracted by texting who comes close to colliding with us but we failed to see the near miss.

Today let us also consider near misses we’ve all experienced.  Some may be due to our own stupidity, carelessness or rebellious living, others due to circumstances beyond our control. In some cases we can learn from them and in all cases we can express gratitude to God for His hand of protection while also teaching us much about our sovereign God and also teaching us about the accidental and purposeful choices we make!

I (Stephen) have compiled a partial list of known near misses in my life.  For instance I recall:

  • The time I took my Dad’s Chrysler Newport out on a gravel farm road west of Belton Missouri to see if I could go 120mph. I could! (And Dad never knew)
  • The time I dozed off on an Oklahoma highway and found myself in the median strip.
  • The time I misjudged how fast a train was coming when approaching a grade crossing and was much closer to disaster than I should have risked.
  • The time I lost control on an ice covered bridge in Pennsylvania and my car went careening out of control heading straight to a stranded car on the median across the bridge. Only divine intervention helped us regain control as Brooksyne cried out to Jesus and fellow church members in a van behind us called upon Jesus to save us.
  • The time I was working on a car when the jack slipped and the car dropped down moments after I had been working under it.
  • The time Tom Schatz and I removed some trees on a church property in northern Pennsylvania and one fell onto a high voltage power line, resulting in what sounded like a sonic boom.

Can you recall near misses you’ve encountered? After considering them do you find yourself doubly grateful to God, but troubled by the question “WHAT IF”?

One of our favorite artists is Ron DCianni, who has an amazing ability to paint an image based on Biblical stories. In his art depictions he often creates people in modern dress and the picture just seems to come alive. He writes, “It will be interesting to one day find out all the near misses and unexplained detours God brought us through.”

Near misses are a sober reminder of how fragile life is. Last year we wrote about Steve Scheibner, a pilot who was scheduled to pilot the first plane that was hijacked on 9/11 and crashed into the World Trade Center. He has a dramatic testimony of a near miss. (See below.)

Ship wreck in Acts 27 Today’s text refers to a near miss. Paul and many other had been in a ship wreck that could have very well resulted in the loss of many lives. “The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety” (Acts 27:44). This was according to the promise which was made by Paul in Acts 27:22.

Bible teacher Albert Barnes writes, “This was done by the special providence of God. It was a remarkable instance of divine interposition to save so many through so long-continued dangers; and it shows that God can defend in any perils, and can accomplish all His purposes. On the ocean or the land we are safe in His keeping, and He can devise ways that shall fulfill all His purposes, and that can protect His people from danger.”

What application for encouragement is there in the story. Aren’t you glad for the many ways that God protects as evidenced by our recollection of near misses in addition to the many “near misses” we’re completely unaware of. Peace overcomes our fear when we theoretically and experientially realize our lives are safely in His loving hands!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man

Father, daily we entrust our safe keeping to others as we venture out on the highway, as we eat food provided by total strangers, as we take medicine that could bring about disastrous results rather than healing. When we use time-saving power tools or electrical gadgets we are at the mercy of modern inventions and other people, the vast majority of them are complete strangers. Whether it’s the driver of the subway or pilot of the aircraft, whether it’s the children obeying the cross guard or a doctor prescribing a cure for what ails us or if it’s a soldier looking to his comrades to cover for his safety. We rely on these animate and inanimate objects everyday and yet, as believers, we more fully rely on Your providence, Your knowledge, Your power and goodness to care for us in dangerous settings. What reassurance we garner as we realize that You are always watching and caring for us. And when our time on this side has expired You are there waiting to usher us to our eternal abode where no danger lurks, no sins defile and no sorrow awaits us. Praise be to Your holy name forevermore. Amen.

Study thought: We rejoice at God’s hand of providence in the near misses we have experienced all through life and realize He must have plans for us to stay on this earth a bit longer. However in the entire scheme of things a failure to experience a near miss is also a part of life. In fact the pilot that took Steve Scheibner’s place was also a Christian.

In Acts 12 we rejoice at Peter’s near miss of being executed by Herod and his deliverance. But in that same chapter his fellow disciple James was beheaded.

Shortly after moving to Lancaster County a newly married youth pastor died when a church van he was working on ran over him. I thought of my near miss when the jack slipped on a car I had been working under just moments earlier. Why one has a near miss and the other has a different outcome is one of the mysteries of providence. But as believers we are victorious either way: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” God takes care of us and provides for us on both sides of eternity – it doesn’t get better than that!


More winter scenes from snowy Lancaster County

Beatty's Turnpike Road farm 2/14/16 (Click to enlarge)
Farm along Beatty’s Tollgate Road in Lancaster County PA
(Click for larger view)

Flory farm 2/11/16 (Click to enlarge)
Farm along Flory Road in Lancaster County PA
(Click for larger view)


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“In My Seat” – A Pilot’s Story from Sept 10th-11th  Video (This is the video referred to in the message. We encourage you to watch it.)

“Perfect Peace”  Video   Laura Story who has quite a story. A very successful songwriter/singer who was married only a short time before her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor that left him very dependent. You will be touched by her testimony of overcoming.

“Blessings testimony” The story behind the song  Webpage with videos

“Christ Redeemer”  Video  written and performed by Nate Marialke  (Our friend LaiFong, who along with her husband Nigel, were the very first recipients of a daily encouragement message in October 1996 and shared this beautiful song.)

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