It seems to be a very long time ago, but when I come think about it, the piece written here below has echoes of one instance that took place in my life and during which I am sure that the Lord had a lot to do with saving me. Besides looking after a farm (not a big one!) I was, during the day, working as an agricultural contractor. I had a couple of tractors one of which was a four-wheel drive so that I was able to cope with some of the difficult terrain with which I was asked to work on.
One day, I was working with the four-wheel drive tractor fertilizer spinning on a neighbour’s field which for the most part was pretty steep – it had been recently reseeded so I had to be a little careful how I went. However, there was one place that looked a little steeper, but I kept going – to try to get out of it could have landed myself in trouble. I reached the dip in the bank, and then as the tractor climbed out of the top side of the dip, the front of the tractor reared up (not in the air) and I felt some alarm – that was when I cried out ‘Oh help me God’!
I don’t know how it happened but the front of the tractor was prevented from rearing up, as I had reckoned it should have, and I was able to drive out of the dip safely. The top of the field was flat and one couldn’t see the slope further down until one was on it. As a result as I started down the slope I realized that there was a bald patch of grass in front of me – just shiney slippery mud. Talk about adding insult to injury. At once, the tractor took off down this very steep slope – 5 tonnes of tractor gathering speed and no way to stop it. All I could do was to steer straight down the slope, keep my foot well away from the clutch and with the other foot jammed on the diff-lock, which caused the rear wheels to lock together and rotate at the same speed and in the same direction. Again: ‘Oh help me God!’ and almost immediately, the tyres gripped the ground - and again I was in control – or rather, the Lord was in control!!!! - but many have ended up in bits at the bottom of such a slope.
There must be many times when we exclaim that something is impossible. For example, those living in valleys with the fields sweeping up the steep sides will probably have seen some contractor or farmer ploughing or working in a field on a bank which looks as if it is almost vertical – how do they do it? It seems an impossibility!
One contractor (now retired) of my ken made a speciality of ploughing, reseeding and lime-spreading on impossibly steep slopes – but then as some had declared, they reckoned there were times when he suffered from a bad case of bravado as was the case when he purposefully drove up one of the steepest banks I've ever seen a tractor on and 'wrote' with the tractor wheels his nick-name in the tall bracken growing on the bank – the result of his work could be clearly seen from the main road on the other side of the valley.
Mind you, there was a time when he was lime-spreading on a steep bank and the brand-new tractor he was driving had literally rolled tail over nose and had landed in bits in the deep dingle below – I saw the bits of that tractor in the machinery supplier's yard shortly after – and yet the man had come out of it with only a few bruises as far as I'm aware!
Perhaps that's it – we are often amazed when we see someone doing something so out of the ordinary that we stop and gasp. Indeed, what we have seen is almost impossible to believe – it is so unbelievable that as a consequence our brains won't take it in, no matter what our eyes are trying to tell us.
I wonder if perhaps this was the case after Jesus had risen and appeared to the disciples? Suddenly, out of an impossibility had come a possibility – and yet it was totally unbelievable – it was mind-blowing. Indeed, the two disciples walking to Emmaus must have had it fixed so firmly in their minds that Jesus was dead that, although their eyes saw him, their brains did not – at least not until he broke bread in what had become to them his familiar fashion – then their eyes were opened, as we are told.
And then, when Jesus entered a closed room where the disciples were hiding, which had been locked and barred, they thought that he was a ghost. It was not until he let them examine his wounds and touch his body that they started to believe that he was indeed alive.
For let's face it, the disciples were being presented with an impossibility that somehow had inconceivably been made possible, that after death, in the resurrected state, there is a body which is not insubstantial like a ghost but can be felt and which can also eat food and talk and yet can go through solid walls and doors and travel distances instantly without walking.
But, the set of seeming impossibilities with which the disciples were faced after Jesus' resurrection didn't stop there. On Ascension Day, in that resurrected body Jesus ascended in full view of them until he was hidden by a cloud – he was not subject to the force of gravity like earthly bodies.
Then just as Jesus had promised his disciples, at Pentecost, they all received and were filled by the Holy Spirit, and it was then that the impossibilities began again but now to the general populace and to the travellers visiting Jerusalem – for they were amazed as they started to hear uneducated men 'declaring the wonders of God' in their own language no matter where they were from – and so that day, the infant church started to grow, and has finally encircled the globe – an impossibility then that has grown to be a certainty.
Thus, we should always remember that on that first Easter, the ultimate impossibility to the human mind was made into an ultimate certainty by Jesus – that there is life in an incorruptible body after death and that nothing is impossible to God.