Thursday, November 27, 2014

Miracles Do Happen - Here's Mine

The dictionary defines miracles as: An extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

In my own words, a miracle is some event that "cannot happen" under the laws of physics, but which happens anyway, in a fashion that defies rational explanation.

By either definition, miracles do happen.

In fact, I believe I'm living proof (literally, living proof) that this is true.

Here is the story of my miracle.

It was probably about 20 years ago. I was out of work, deeply depressed, facing economic collapse and struggling with the aftermath of a broken marriage and the rocks and shoals of a second marriage.  I felt a failure - I didn't seem to be able to provide for my family, or to accomplish in myself anything that I'd set out to do.  There seemed no way out.
There seemed to be no way out. I decided to end my life
I decided to end my life - in retrospect, for me it would have been the coward's way out, but at the time, it seemed my only real option in a world spinning out of control. However, I had life insurance and I didn't want to leave my family destitute, so I decided to stage my suicide so it looked accidental.  A gun-cleaning accident.

First, I left a note on the kitchen table for my wife to find - not a suicide note but an "I'm out in the garage cleaning my gun" message.

Then I loaded and cocked my Springfield full-frame 1911A1 semi-automatic pistol, and mounted it, barrel up, in a bench vice.

An aside for those who don't know anything about guns in general, or this pistol in particular, I need to describe a bit about how this pistol works.  It's germane to this miracle, so please bear with me. 

The Springfield 1911A1 is based on the US Army's sidearm pistol, the Colt M1911A1 - the .45 caliber pistol used by US forces in World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam. It is still the weapon of choice for many special forces soldiers, as well as serious target shooters and those who are serious about self-defense. 

More than 100 years after it first entered service, this timeless handgun remains popular for two reasons. 
  • First, the pistol remarkably powerful - if you hit something, it will go down and stay down.  
  • Second, the pistol is remarkably mechanically reliable - it does what it's supposed to do (i.e., to fire) every time, without fail.
Also, while it goes off whenever it's supposed to, it also has three different kinds of safeties, so it doesn't go off unless you really want it to.  The "last line of defense" is called a "grip safety."  You have to actually be squeezing the grip (the handle) of the gun to release that safety - without that, the gun cannot fire.

So, back to my miracle.  I had the gun mounted in the bench vice, pointed upward, so I wouldn't have to hold it.  Then, resolved to do what was needed (in my muddled and desperate mind), I pressed my forehead against the barrel's gaping mouth - right between my eyes, and just a skosh "north" of my eyebrows.  I squeezed the grip safety tight, and then I pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened.

That's not possible.  This 1911A1 is a purely mechanical piece of machinery, no electronics, nothing that could possibly cause it to not fire.  But despite that indisputable fact, the gun didn't fire.

I stood there for a space of several seconds (it seemed like hours, but it could only have been a couple of seconds), increasingly puzzled by what hadn't happened.

Then, thinking that I was going to have to do a bit of "gun-smithing" to figure out what went wrong, I released the grip safety and began to pull my head away from the gun barrel's opening - and the instant that my forehead was out of the line of fire, the gun went off.

That's not possible, either.

Mechanically, the gun HAD to go off when I squeezed the trigger.  It really had no other option.  And again, mechanically, the gun could NOT go off several seconds after I'd squeezed the trigger, and after I'd released the grip safety. 

John Browning's masterful pistol design just did not work that way.

The blast was deafening - I couldn't hear out of my right ear for weeks - and the hole in the garage ceiling was unmistakable.  However, that was a side-show.

The instant I heard the gun go off, I was flooded by what I know in my heart was a very clear and unmistakable message from God Himself, a message that suicide was not for me. 
An unmistakable message from God Himself, a message that suicide was not for me.  Period.

Since that time, nearly two decades ago, I've had many even more difficult times in my life than I'd faced on that day. I've lost a son to a single-car accident, and my late wife to her own suicide in the aftermath of our son's tragic death.  Those were the worst, but I've faced many other challenges in life.

Yet I have never again been tempted by suicide.

God spared my life in a miracle, an action which defied known laws of physics, but which nonetheless happened.

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