It was around late summer or early fall, in north Idaho where I grew up. I was with my friends Tim, Dan, and Jared and we were up in the mountains with their dads getting firewood. I must have been around 12 or 13 years old at the time, Tim was a year older, Dan was a year younger, and Jared was probably 8. Well while the grown-ups were working, me and the other boys were playing games. One of the games we came up with was to pick a small pine tree, climb to the top, and hang off the tip top of it so that the tree would bend slowly back down to the ground. We did this for quite a while before moving on to other things. At some point we all kind of split up and were entertaining ourselves. Tim was under a fallen tree building a fort and Dan and Jared were trying to use large pieces of tree bark as surf boards to ride down the side of the hill. Well I guess I was enjoying the pine tree game so much that I continued to play it by myself. But this time I picked a big pine tree, if memory serves correctly I would say it must have been somewhere between 15 and 20 ft tall. Not only that, the tree was growing right out of the bank off the side of the old logging road we were on. It was growing from just below the road so that the rest of the steep embankment dropped off below, probably another 15 to 20 ft. Well I climbed to the top of that tree and I grabbed the tip of it and hung my weight off,…only it didn’t bend very far, in fact it bent just far enough that I found myself hanging probably 30+ ft in mid-air. As I looked below me contemplating just jumping off, I saw many hazards. Immediately beneath me was a large fallen tree, the trunk laying north and south in relation to my position, the branches pointing upward toward me and then bending over sideways. All around this fallen tree were many jagged broken stumps from other trees that must have been cut down or broken off in years past. As I hung there contemplating my fate, I hear Dan and Jared yelling at me from off to the side. “James don’t jump, you’re too high!”. I yelled back “I know!” well about this time I started to feel the fatigue in my forearms from climbing a bunch of trees all day. I looked at my hands and studied the precarious grip they had on this tree, I let go with one hand and reached farther down the tree, but it tried to spring away from me and I lost my grip. Frantically I grabbed at the tree again and found myself hanging on to two little tiny twigs, one for each hand…now I’m in a real bad situation, I have to let go of one of the twigs and grab the tree trunk again. I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to do it but I had no other options, so that’s what I did. As soon as I let go of the twig the tree sprung away from me and I fell backwards towards the ground. I still remember staring up at the sky as I’m falling, and anticipating the feeling of a stump or branch penetrating my torso thru and thru. I can hear Dan and Jared yelling “Oh no!”…huh, I wonder where Tim is. After what seemed like an eternity I finally landed on the branches of the fallen tree trunk that lay below me, the branches flexed rapidly. Then I hit something more solid and it too gave way under the impact of my body striking it.
For a second I layed there with my eyes closed, trying to comprehend what just happened, and for that brief moment I felt this overwhelming sensation of comfort, safety, peace, love, and most of all warmth, such as I had never experienced before nor since in my life. The branches I was laying on felt like the softest most comfortable bed I had ever been in. While my eyes were closed I could sense thru my eyelids and feel on my cheeks the light and warmth of the sun shining on me. But as I opened my eyes I discovered that the sun was not in the position it should have been to shine on that side of my face, instead it had started to recede behind the trees at the top of the mountain so that there was no way it could have provided the light and warmth that I had experienced at that moment.
I rolled off the branches and stood on my feet, my body still trembling from adrenaline. Dan and Jared came running over to see if I was alright, as they had witnessed the whole thing. I heard a noise from beneath the tree and found that Tim was the solid object I had felt give way beneath me. He had been under the tree making a fort and the next thing he knew, the wind was getting knocked out of him by something from above. It only took a few minutes for all of us to go back to playing silly kids games, but a little while later I decided to go lay down on those branches again and see If I could reproduce that comfortable feeling that I had experienced earlier. Not even close! Now it just felt like you would expect it to feel when you lay on a bunch of irregular wooden branches.
At the time I didn’t think about miracles and angels or anything like that. It wasn’t until many years later after I got saved by Jesus Christ that I was able to look back on that day and realize that God saved my life!!
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