Rock climbing. It was supposed to be a day conquering the rock faces of High Rocks Park and rappelling back down, my favorite outdoor pastime. But as we rounded the last curve of the narrow, winding road that led to the entrance, we met an oncoming car, driving up the middle of the road. Doug pulled our little Plymouth Arrow truck as far to the edge of the road as he could. Just when we thought we had squeezed safely between the car and the edge, the right front tire slipped off the macadam onto the soft ground. The rest of the truck was still on the road. We were barely moving, but as hard as Doug tried to get the tire back onto the macadam, it was no use. The truck started leaning to the right. We were going over the cliff.
The truck flopped onto the passenger side with a loud bang. The next few seconds seemed to move in slow motion. There was a crunching sound as it rolled onto the roof. With three of us in the cab of the truck, I was unbelted in the middle, sitting on a folded sofa cushion stuffed in between the seats. That’s the way we did it in the early 1980s. I felt myself heading toward the windshield. Doug’s forearm struck me in the chest, slamming me back against the seats, just as the windshield cracked. Jagged lines spread across the windshield, and tiny shards of glass sprayed throughout the cab. The truck continued its downward roll with more popping and cracking. Would the truck stay in one piece at it plummeted to the bottom, ninety feet below? Would we survive?
The driver’s side hit the ground, and the truck came to a sudden stop with a jolting thud, throwing the three of us into a pile. With Doug on the bottom of the pile, he couldn’t help my sister and I push the passenger door open, which was now located above us. Then we heard voices outside the truck, “Are they dead?” The people from the Honda were pulling on the door. We pushed, they pulled, and finally the mangled door gave way. We scrambled out and sat on the side of the truck. The passenger of a passing car gawked at us and remarked, “Heck of a place to park.”
As we oriented ourselves, we realized the truck had only rolled three quarters of a turn. The undercarriage of the truck had come to rest against a tree. We were about twenty feet below the road. We sat on the side of the truck taking inventory of the damage, to us and the truck. The truck was a total loss, but the three of us just had bumps and bruises (and a few concussions we would later learn). Someone had gone to the park office and reported the accident. We heard galloping. “The cavalry’s coming?” I wondered out loud. Not exactly. It was a medic on a horse. After checking us out and declaring us fit enough to wait for a tow truck, our hero on horseback rode off with my sister squished onto the saddle, arms tightly around his waist. What in the world?
We found where the tire had gotten off the macadam. It was just a three-inch drop. Why hadn’t it been able to get back up? Why did the truck roll over the cliff? I remembered this accident as I read about a Christian leader who has gone off track. I wondered how he had gotten so far from the truth. He had been ministering well for so long, but now, after decades of solid teaching, he was espousing things that were unbiblical. I realized it only takes a small turn off the narrow road before you can fall off a cliff. It was a good reminder that I need to constantly test what I’m hearing, reading, and teaching with the truth of God’s Word to make sure I stay on solid ground.
“You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from Him who calls you.” (Galatians 5:7-8 ESV)