Last Friday afternoon I walked toward the refrigerator to retrieve some fruit that lay within in hopes of having an afternoon snack. As I opened the refridge door I saw the delicious looking peaches I wanted sitting on the top shelf, partially hidden behind a full 48 ounce glass jar of hamburger pickles which was sitting on the edge of the shelf. Reaching behind the jar of pickles, I grabbed one of the peaches in hopes of enjoying the tasty treat. As I pulled the peach over the top of the pickle jar I must have hit it for it fell off the shelf and all 48 ounces of the full glass jar came crashing down on my big toe!! And you might know it, I was barefooted.
As the force of the heavy jar hit my exposed big toe I, without a telescope, saw every star in the solar system…and a few planets as well!! I let out a blood-curdling scream that would have frightened away Frankenstein. I cannot describe the pain I felt pulsate through my body. I may have and have just forgotten, but I can’t ever remember in my 62 years anything hurting that bad. I was in excruciating pain to such an extent I grew sick on my stomach. I knew I had broken my big toe. My wife hearing my horrifying scream, hurried to where I was and asked, “Are you hurt?” I don’t know, but I thought my screams of death, my contorted face of agony, both hands wrapped around my big toe, a peach rolling across the floor and a 48 ounce jar of pickles laying beside my crumpled pain-riddled body made the question totally unnecessary!
I told her I thought I had broken my big toe. She offered to take me to the ER, but I was in too much pain and agony to go to the hospital! “Just get me a glass of water, two Advil and an ice pack,” I gasped between grunts and groans of pain. As she quickly responded to my request, she said, “Aren’t you being a little dramatic.” If I hadn’t remembered through the slowly subsiding pain that the penalty for strangulation was jail time, I would have responded in a most negative way!! I assured her what looked like an academy award winning performance was the result of pain and not an attempt to win an Oscar.
As I put the ice pack on my throbbing big toe the stars in the solar system begin to fade and the world around me came back into focus. My fear was that it was broken and I would not be able to run for awhile, which is my time of escape from planet earth. Time would tell.
The ice numbed the throbbing and the Advil begin to dull the pain, but my toe began to turn the multi-colors of the rainbow. To make a long story short, I never went to the ER and I didn’t break my big toe. Fortunately, the edge of the jar hit just above the toe joint, not on the joint, or it would have broken it. Thankfully, though the toe was sore and a little swollen, I was able to run the next morning.
And by the way, I never did get to eat that peach!
After my big toe began to return to some semblance of normalcy, I thought about what I had learned from the unsettling episode. Let me share with you some lessons I learned.
First, I learned if a pickle jar I had fallen on the big toes of Adam and Eve when they plucked the Forbidden Fruit from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, they never would have eaten it and we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today! But they did partake of the Forbidden Fruit, and in so doing introduced sin into the world. Ever since that day man has sought a remedy for the sin problem. Our search comes to an end on a hill call Mount Calvary. The answer to our sin problem is found in God’s provision of the Christ of the Cross (I John 2:1-2).
Second, I learned things aren’t always as bad as they seem. I thought the worst, that my toe was broken, but it was not. Life is not always as bad as it seems, it could always be worse. Too often we think the worst. Mark Twain once said, “Ninety percent of what I worried about never came to pass.”
Third, I learned “this too shall pass.” While the pain that went through my body when that pickle jar landed on my big toe was excruciating, it eventually subsided. There are many kinds of pain we experience in this life: physically, emotionally and mentally. While for a time it may seem unbearable, it will eventually pass. Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Fourth, I learned the next time I want a peach, move the pickle jar first. What “pickle jar” is in the way of receiving the “sweet peaches” the Lord has for us. Our “pickle jar” could be bitterness, a lustful heart, negative spirit, clinging to a secret sin, a prayerless life, etc. We somehow think we can have the “sweet peaches” that the Lord has for us without removing the “pickle jar.” It will not happen.
Fifth, I learned that if I see someone laying in the floor screaming loud enough to raise Lazarus from the dead, holding their toe with both hands, a pickle jar laying beside them and a peach rolling across the floor, not to ask them, “Are you hurt!?’ We can safely assume there are hurting people lying all around us. Let us each day seek by our words and actions to help make their plight a little less painful.
Sixth, I learned that the next time I go to the refrigerator it will not be barefooted, but with steel-toed shoes on!!