(I'm reposting this story I wrote on Facebook a year ago after David's 50th birthday. I'm happy to say David has recovered and is celebrating his 51st birthday this weekend.)
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. (Proverbs 4:26)
Perhaps this was a verse my brother David should have read prior to mountain hiking last Saturday on his 50th birthday in New Mexico. But grass doesn’t grow under the Hodges’ feet, especially with a milestone birthday. We all live with a sense of urgency about us. So I wasn’t surprised to not find him on Facebook on Saturday. I knew he was out “doing.” I posted a card on his wall, anyway, wishing him happy birthday. During the day, he popped into my mind occasionally, I suppose because it was his birthday, and each time, I prayed for him. I asked God to watch over him on his special day.
Little did I know David was out hiking, which also is in the Hodges genes. However, David hikes at 8,000 feet in the mountains, not a Hodges thing, but a David thing. During the course of the day, he and his wife Gita hiked in remote locations, away from cell phone coverage, and as far as five miles from the nearest road at times. As dusk neared, they picked their way through the last stretch of rocky terrain. With Gita ahead of David on the path, they were almost back to their cabin. David grabbed a rock that gave way under his hand and plunged 8 feet straight back onto the ground below, miraculously and narrowly missing two rocks that jutted a foot up on either side of him. Initially, he was unable to feel his legs or breathe and had incredible pain shooting through his body.
David spent the next two hours lying on the ground waiting for EMS to arrive. I imagine many things went through his mind under the vast sky with nighttime setting in. Fortunately, he and Gita have good wilderness survival skills and they did everything right to keep him from going into shock. He shared with me that he surmised, based on his level of pain, his injuries were probably much worse than they turned out to be. After a bumpy ride back to civilization, he was hospitalized with a broken thoracic vertebrae and a collapsed lung along with scrapes and bruises.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was watching out for David. The paramedics told him if he’d landed six inches either way, he would’ve been paralyzed. I shudder to think if his head had hit one of rocks, as well, or he’d landed head first.
Could David climb another mountain and plunge to his death in the future? Sure he could. And one thing I know about David is that this accident won’t put an end to his risk-taking adventurous spirit. But on that day, Saturday, he was spared. Not only his life, but the quality of his existence. Only he can discover the reason why. It’s between him and God. I, for one, am just very thankful God honored my prayer for David’s protection that day. I’m not ready to turn loose of another sibling any time soon.