I looked, I blinked, I looked again, and I still wasn't sure what I was seeing. We were driving next to a railroad track when I saw a vehicle moving along the railroad track, but not a train. A pickup truck. He was moving right along down the track like a train, but a truck? Trucks have tires, railroads have tracks. Tires don't ride on tracks. Well, as I looked closer I realized what was going on here. This was a maintenance truck for the railroad, specially modified to run on tracks. It was mounted with special train wheels extending out from both the front and back of the pickup. So because he had been specially outfitted, he was able to go where he normally could never go!

My farm girl wife has a high tolerance for pain. "I know," you say, "she's married to you." I mean physical pain. She seldom complains and I often don't know how she's hurting. But she has had almost constant pain for the last eight years and it would flare up in different parts of her body, sometimes becoming almost paralyzing and unbearable. A lot of remedies and treatments took their turn trying to help her get better nothing worked; the flare-ups continued. Until recently. She is so thankful, she says with this big smile, "I am pain-free for the first time in eight years." What happened? Our family doctor went to work in diagnosing the problem and he concluded it was something called fibromyalgia. And once our doctor diagnosed what the real problem was, we could start working on some real relief!

I don't know if you've ever driven across the United States, but it's something you want to think twice about, it is a long haul. Now how about riding a bicycle across the United States? That's what my friend Scott did when he was a college student with a group called Wandering Wheels. That's a lot of wandering! Scott said he was excited about the idea until the day the leaders displayed a map of the whole country on the side of their chuck wagon. It looked, in a word, impossible. But they started on this Mission Impossible anyway. Each day, they'd get up and just start riding again. "So he took it a day at a time, then?" No. Scott said when the riding really got tough and his legs were just about to go on strike, he would just aim for that next telephone pole. And pretty soon, he said, that huge map got conquered, one telephone pole at a time!

It's pretty funny the lengths some advertisers will go to convince you that you should buy their product, like those Samsonite commercials. Remember, the suitcase in the gorilla cage, taking every form of abuse a gorilla could give it? And then there was the one where they threw it out of a plane and it survived. But the pioneers of this kind of "hammer it to prove it" advertising were the makers of Timex watches. Their motto was hard to forget - "Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin'." I don't remember all the ways they beat up on their watches, but it seems to me they attached one to a ski boat, one to the underside of a truck that was bouncing along a bumpy road. They gave it all kinds of hammering that proved the quality of their product.

The most boring part of any youth group outing is the long bus trip, especially if the trip is from Michigan to Arizona. Not long ago I interviewed some kids who went on this mission trip to the Navajo Reservation, but I don't think they will remember the trip as boring. Because of the carelessness of another driver, their bus had to swerve sharply at one point and the bus went off the road and started to roll all the way over into a ditch. Needless to say, it was very scary. One-by-one they emerged from the bus and thank God, no one was killed. Some were injured and had to be treated at a local hospital. Well, when they finally arrived at that Indian reservation they were a sorry looking bunch. They weren't able to bring all their luggage with them, some were on crutches, in braces, patched, bandaged. But when they found out at least one reason why the bus had rolled well, they have been thanking God for that accident ever since!

Well, some of us had to wait almost 20 years for it - but the 1996 New York Yankees finally won the World Series. Now they had to be the champs to do it - the Atlanta Braves. And after the first two games of the best-of-seven series, I thought the Yankees had gone into a coma - they got creamed. Ah, but that's when it got exciting - they came back to win next two games. The series was tied at two games apiece, of course - and the then Yankees appeared to doze off again in Game Five - they were behind 6-0! Speaking of dozing off, that's what at least one Yankee fan did - including the guy I heard buying a newspaper the next day. He saw the headline announcing that the Yankees had come back and won that game 8-6! He grabbed that newspaper, saw the outcome of the game, and then said some things I can't quote - after which he said, "I can't believe it! I gave up on them in the seventh inning and went to sleep!" He missed a great victory.

It was a beautiful day for sailing, and our friend Dave had invited us to go out on Long Island Sound with him and his wife. It was not hard to decide whether to go. The Sound was relatively calm that day - there was a very gentle breeze and not a cloud in the sky - but suddenly Dave announced to us, "We're heading in." I couldn't think of a single, rational reason to waste the rest of such an idyllic afternoon. I said, "Why Dave?" He said, "To beat the storm." Right? I checked the sky again, and there were still no clouds. Well, we headed for the harbor and pretty soon Dave was lowering his sails and we went the rest of the way propelled by his motor, and sure enough it started sprinkling as we entered the harbor! As we tied the last canvas around the folded sails, the skies opened up and dumped! Now, I was impressed - and dry, thanks to Dave hearing some static on the radio, knowing where that station transmitted from and sensing that rain was on the way. He saw no clouds, but he expected the rain.

The Seattle Mariners were in the middle of a baseball game when it hit, an earthquake. The sportscaster in Seattle King Dome said, "Man, everything is shaking here." Well, the newscast showed the reaction of Seattle star Ken Griffey, Jr.. Even though he is one of baseballs premier players, he suddenly did not have baseball on his mind. He ran over to a spot on the field where he could see his family in the stands - it wasn't baseball he was thinking of all of a sudden. He was motioning to his family to get out of that stadium, now!, and to start driving home. It reminded me of that night when an earthquake hit that third game of the 1989 World Series in San Francisco, and the remark the San Francisco catcher made. Even in the midst of a World Series dream coming true, speaking of the quake he simply said, "Sure does change your priorities, doesn't it?"

Every New York station that you turned to had the same bold graphic, Blizzard of '96. It was barely '96; we were only six days in when anywhere between 20-30 inches of snow unloaded on our Metropolitan New York area. It was like a mega-ton snow bomb hit New York City, and it literally drove the Big Apple to its knees. This is a city that doesn't shut down for anything except this monster storm. The schools were closed for an almost unprecedented two days. City workers were told not to come in and bridges to the city were closed. Some of the busiest streets in the world were bare except for an occasional plow or emergency vehicle that went by. The trains couldn't make it because of snow choked tracks. Major sporting events were impossible. I've never seen New York like that. The city that never stops had been stopped.

I've seen gridlock before in New York City. It's when vehicles are choking at every intersection and literally no one can move. Until recently though, I had never seen gridlock in a grocery store. The weatherman had forecast a hugh snowstorm for our area which was supposed to begin during the night. Well I stopped by the store about 9:30 that night, and I ended up trying to find the end of the line for the cash register. They only had two lanes open and there was a line of carts all the way to the produce section all jammed together so no one could come in, go out, or go through. What brought this sudden urge to shop? Word of an approaching storm.

            

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Ron Hutchcraft Ministries
P.O. Box 400
Harrison, AR 72602-0400

(870) 741-3300
(877) 741-1200 (toll-free)
(870) 741-3400 (fax)

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