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A Taste of Death

Suddenly I lost my footing, flipped over, and hurtled downwards. As the boulder-strewn ground rushed 'towards me' — it seemed this would be my death. Suddenly I slipped and hurtled towards the rocks below. My life certainly did not flash past — not one year of my 20 years — I was gripped by crushing breathlessness and the thought that I could not survive.

I crashed upon boulders and loose scree, bounced several times, and then entered a horrifying roll down the steep scree slope. During this rapid roll — suddenly — I heard a clear voice within my head: "Splay your arms out!" (With the surprise and speed of events, I cannot accept this voice was my mind.) Somehow I did stretch out my arms, and this brought my rolling to a gradual stop.

I staggered to my feet, dazed — rather surprised I could even move. I had lost my woolly hat. I had a scratch on my scalp and a badly bruised back. I looked up to where I had just fallen — around 50 feet upwards — and falling from there onto rocks, knew I ought to be smashed to pulp. The scree slope, boulder-filled, continued for another 400 yards down the mountainside. Continuing to roll down there would have resulted in many more impacts. To me, it seemed a miracle.

For our hiking party in Glen Coe, Scotland, the day had rapidly turned for the worse as bad weather descended and daylight started to fade. As we tried to get off the mountain ridges via a scree slope, the party leader had been struck and injured by dislodged falling rocks. To avoid falling rocks, I had tried another route down and became stuck. Just before my boot slipped on damp rocks, I had indeed felt as if I were about to fall and in fear had said a quick prayer. I believed that a god existed, but little else — perhaps I could have been termed an 'agnostic'.

The Hidden or Lost Valley, Glen Coe.

After the other hiking party members struggled down the slope, we did a head count. There were eight people. I resolutely maintained there should be nine. The lean young man walking alongside me earlier on the mountain ridges — with a red lumberjack shirt and a canvas rucksack — everybody else said they had not seen. I thought he had joined us from another hiking party we had passed. Eight people were recorded at base camp, and eight in the head count, but there were nine of us on the ridges, and this ninth person walked alongside and in front of me for several minutes. A few days later in the pub, several of the hikers described seeing a black figure standing on rocks high above, overlooking the scree slope events, and joked it was an 'angel of death'.

Afterwards, these events jolted me and forced me to consider my existence. My life had been going nowhere and there seemed little point to it. There was no reason to live other than to enjoy myself, survive life's adversities, and blot emptiness or the future with drunkenness. Yet the accident awoke me to how close I had been to losing everything in one moment.

At the top of the Hidden or Lost Valley, Glen Coe.

I recognised I should be dead. My escape from death, and serious injury, was miraculous. The clear voice that I heard in a wild situation. The mysterious 'ninth' hiker that I saw, but no one else did, and the overlooking black figure that some others saw. An unseen power — which I started to take to be 'God' — not only existed, but also had cared enough to intervene on a bleak mountainside.

With a mixture of bewilderment, thankfulness, and a quest to find out why I should live — for the first time in my life I went to a Christian church actually looking for God. I had been given a second chance, and endeavoured to find the reason and purpose of this. Listening intently to Bible teaching, I learnt about Jesus Christ, God's son, who really did live, die, and rise from the grave — and accepting Him into your life gives the real second chance to live.

(The two in-focus photos above I took shortly before my accident in November 1992.)