Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Birthday Blessing

Yesterday I received an unexpected and unusual birthday blessing. Beyond the unexpected phone calls from two dear friends over the past two days and beyond the beautiful card my wife made and the gifts that she gave, another blessing occurred.

Yesterday as I was cutting a stump that required some special techniques, requiring the use of two saws because of its position between landscape stones, the use of the second and larger saw presented a startling surprise. As the saw refused to keep running, firing and then stalling, I decided to check the fuel supply. When I removed the fuel cap, to my astonishment, the fuel erupted into my face.

It was 103 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade, and I was not working in the shade. I had used the saw hard earlier, so it was hot from running hard. The fuel tank holds a little less than a quart of fuel. Nearly a pint erupted and spewed onto my face, head, and neck. The fuel was hot. Thankfully, it did not catch fire from the muffler. Nevertheless, the heat accelerated the chemical reaction so that the gasoline burned my face.

I immediately ran to the nearby hydrant to flood my face, but that hydrant did not function properly. I ran to the next nearest spigot, removed the attachments from the hose, and began to flood my face with the water. Then I ran to my truck for some soap to help remove the gasoline, but the previously stored soap had been removed. So I returned to the spigot and flooded my face for several more minutes, gently rubbing to help remove the gasoline from the skin. The burning lessened. I checked my face in the truck mirror and found only slight reddening and very minor swelling. So I returned to working. Several times the burning sensation returned, and each time I flooded my face, head, and neck until it abated.

I paused briefly and instinctively made the sign of the cross and gave thanks. It was a brief pause, but the sign of the cross always provides great comfort and assurance, as does the giving of thanks for God’s gracious care and protection. To sign myself with the cross gives me great comfort as I am reminded of my baptism and all that God promises in connection with His means of grace.

I finished the cutting and loading of logs. Then I stopped at a Kwik Shop and washed my face with soap, followed by thorough rinsing.

Today my face shows some redness and very minor swelling, accompanied by very minor burning sensation.

Truly this is a birthday blessing that I had not expected. Stephanie was greatly relieved that no serious harm occurred to her husband. She, too, gave thanks to God, repeatedly, for His gracious protection.

I continue to marvel that God has designed the human body with reflexes such as the reflex closing of the eyelid. None of the fuel ever contacted my eye directly. The lid was affected but no contact occurred to the eye itself. I often think that God may even accelerate the reflexes at times like this. Either way the gracious wisdom of God is manifested in the reflex actions built into our bodies. He also blessed me with the wisdom to keep my eyelid closed until I could thoroughly flood it with water.

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