The wind blew my hair in all directions as I sped downhill on my bicycle. I pedaled harder, trying to gain speed and momentum so I could more easily surmount the next hill. pyc had ended about a week earlier, and I was thinking about the great memories I had made with my dorm. We had learned all sorts of things at pyc that year, from waterskiing to emergency braking on a bike. Now, however, summer was almost over, and school was about to push its way in. I was headed to play one last soccer game before the break ended.
Five seconds to impact ….
A white pickup truck approached in the opposite lane. This was just typical traffic, I thought. Actually, I wasn’t thinking. I was more concerned with building speed so I could get to the game on time. This truck was the least of my worries.
Three seconds to impact ….
As the vehicle drew closer, it began to merge into my lane. This maneuver caught my attention. I assured myself the truck would straighten out, but I kept to the far side of the road as a precaution. As the truck continued to assert its dominance on the wrong side of the road, I realized that the driver intended to turn into a neighborhood, which lay only about fifty feet ahead. Surely he would acknowledge my presence before then, as we were only a hundred feet apart.
One second to impact ….
I slammed on the back brake, still hoping that the driver would see me and repent of his egregious traffic violation. Apparently, I was not there. As I continued to skid forward, I turned away from the truck and into the neighborhood. The truck turned with me.
Impact! My bike finally came to a stop as my front tire and left shin collided with the gentle cushioning provided by the truck’s unbendable metal fender, hurling me off the bike and onto the asphalt. I thought for sure that my leg was broken. I had also landed on my right wrist, which ached badly. After a few seconds, I rose to my feet. My leg was not broken after all, but there was a small gash that exposed a portion of my shinbone. Minutes later, I left the scene. I received several stitches on my leg, and an X-ray confirmed that my wrist was sprained. I had escaped with only minor injuries.
For the next couple weeks, I flaunted a wrist brace and the neat little inch-and-a-half long row of plastic stitches that decorated my shin. Few held bragging rights like I did. Although my accident was an amusing conversation starter, I often pondered how the results could have been much worse.
Eventually, one of my friends asked a question I had presented to myself several times since the accident: “Why didn’t you emergency brake like they taught us at camp?” Emergency braking would have slowed me to a complete stop in time to avoid getting hit. I had many excuses for why I hadn’t used the emergency brake. First, I had panicked. Second, it had all happened so fast. Third, I had never really practiced emergency braking, so it hadn’t come to my mind when I needed to stop. It would have been impossible for me to get my bearings before executing something I had never practiced. This is what I wanted to be true, but the more I thought about it, the more avoidable the whole incident seemed.
From this experience, I learned that it is imperative that we apply what we learn. Once we receive instruction, we are commanded to put it into practice (Philippians 4:9). If I had been ready to apply the braking technique I had been taught at camp, the entire accident could have been avoided. Practicing the things we learn gives us safety and assurance—it could mean the difference between life and death.
Any instruction we receive has a purpose—for our improvement. What good is our education if we don’t implement the knowledge we have absorbed? The education we receive helps prepare us for our future roles as teachers!
Our classes aren’t the only place where we gain knowledge and instruction, however. Even more important are the messages we hear every week at Sabbath services. Have you ever stopped to ponder why we gather to listen to the messages given by God’s ministers? It’s so we can apply that information and instruction in our lives. That is how we grow in character. It takes action. First we hear, and then we do. In urgent times like these, we cannot afford to be only hearers. If you take action by applying instruction, it will have an impact on your current life but also on your incredible future.