I thought I would start a new series here at the Hovel, one in which I single out something/someone I am thankful for and praise YHWH for his grace by telling a bit about why I am thankful. So here goes (fair warning it is a long one).
I am thankful for my brother. My brother is a mountain of a man in more ways than one. On the internet he is known as The Freedom Crusader and it fits him well. Though I am often confused as to what he is fighting for or against and on more occasions than I care to count I have found myself on the opposite side of the field of battle from him (that could be due to his penchant for playing the devil’s advocate) but one thing is sure: he is a man unafraid to enter in the fray no matter the cost. It is one of his most infuriating and endearing character qualities. In my life it has meant that on the one hand I have a ready gadfly waiting to goad me to deeper thought and study and on the other I have had the privilege of having one of the bravest defenders. For this I am very thankful.
I was reminded of one such time by the Crusader’s own Thanksgiving Day post. I will never forget one July day when the Crusader and I were down at my Uncle’s house unloading a stock trailer full of corral panels that had been used at a recent rodeo in our home town because it was almost my last. The trailer was filled wall to wall with steel corral panels that were 5′ tall and 12′ long. At first both the Crusader and I were outside the trailer dragging each panel out and stacking them in the barn. However, as the trailer began to empty it became necessary for one of us to stay in the trailer and hold the remaining panels upright while the other dragged the next panel out and stacked it. Being one that never shirked work and also being a bit protective of his older brother, the Crusader told me to stay in the shade in the trailer and hold the panels while he moved and stacked each one in the barn. So in and out of the sun he went, muscles bugling, face turning red under the strain, sweat pouring off of his brow carrying each panel. I would start at the end of the trailer farthest from the door and would carry one end of a panel with one hand while steadying the stack with the other to help him get them out of the trailer and then I would walk back to the far end while he stacked his load in the barn. Everything with this system went smoothly for about the first 8-10 panels but no sooner had we gotten our rhythm down when everything went south.
I was in the trailer and had just handed one off to the Crusader, made my way over half way down the length of the trailer when the stack inside shifted and started to crash down on top of me. I turned and tried to stop the stack but it was too late. With a weight I had never experienced before the still massive stack of steel slammed me up against the side of the trailer. Suddenly the only thing keeping nearly 1000lbs of steel off of my chest was my arms and adrenaline. In the chaos I had hollered and the Crusader had come running grabbing the end of the pile and pushing with all of the strength in his body. However, he was at a disadvantage because he had no leverage from the end of the pile but he threw his whole self into getting this steel off of me. We struggled valiantly for several minutes but we never succeeded in doing anything more than keep the pressure off of my chest so I could breathe. To make matters worse, due to the height of the panels I couldn’t wedge my arms between the trailer wall and the panels so all that was holding all that weight was his muscle and my fear. As the minutes wore on and the adrenaline wore off the desperation of our situation began to show in the Crusader’s face telling me he was worried that what I already thought was really true – I was in real trouble. As we prayed and struggled the steel kept bearing down inch by inch. We were out in the middle of the country over 20 years ago, no cell phone, no one to hear us scream and the nearest phone was at our house a 1/2 mile drive away with real help at least 20 minutes distant after that call. I finally asked him to go get help before we were both total exhausted and I had no chance, thankfully he didn’t listen to me (I never would have made it).
Instead the Crusader mustered up all the adrenaline that his bullriding body contained and with a mighty heave he raised the panels enough to wedge his own body in between the trailer and the panels. At the time I didn’t know whether this was better or worse, now instead of just one of us in trouble we were both in the pickle. Even with the new leverage for the Crusader all it bought us was time to struggle. Things looked bleak and I was spent so the Crusader did what he does best, he took the bull by the horns in a death struggle that would end in either his death or the defeat of his opponent. Summoning an effort born of true manhood in a heart that will not quit no matter the odds the Crusader took one look into the eyes of the brother he was determined to save and gave what can only be described as a heave powered by divine providence. With that push, a push that separated some of the cartilage from his sternum, by God’s grace the Crusader shoved the panels vertical, holding them while I scrambled by and then dove free himself.
While some might have (or continue to) question his sanity in a few of the decisions in this process, I could not be more thankful for the Crusader. His willingness to jump into the bite when the chips are down is just one of many reasons that the Crusader is one of the finest men I know and for whom I am very grateful. I never like being in a pickle, there is no one I would rather have my back than the Crusader – a truly faithful man in more ways than one.