A display of divine greatness and mercy

Monday night will go down as one of the most unusual in the Ascol household. As those of you who have followed my twittering or facebook updates have read, last night I received the shock of my life. Literally. Here’s the story.

It was a dark and stormy night. Again, literally. We were several hours into one of our famous Florida electrical storms. The skies looked similar to this photo, which was taken out our back window a couple of years ago.

Around 1:30 AM police were at our home investigating a possible burglary (in our garage–which is a whole ‘nother story of its own!). After determining that if someone broke into our garage, he (or she) was gone, one of the officers strongly suggested that I lock the doors on our cars in the driveway, due to a rise in robberies from automobiles in the last year. He and his colleague suggested that we all go investigate whether anything was missing from the cars and to secure them.

It was still raining–by that time more than 2 inches had fallen in the previous 12 hours. And, the skies were still being illuminated by lightning and impressive thunder. I went out first, barefooted and wearing shorts and t-shirt, and walked up to our Buick Skylark. In a perfectly timed instant, the moment my right hand gripped the door handle the most brilliant flash of light and loudest crack of thunder I have ever witnessed provided a most electrifying experience.

Beginning at my right hand and traveling up my arm, down my side and right leg and foot, I got the shock of my life. I was thrown back several feet and on to the ground. The policemen let expletives fly and hovered over me, asking me questions that made no sense. Another bolt of ligtning struck nearby and they helped me up and back inside my house, as they called for paramedics. The ambulance arrived within minutes and 4 paramedics started checking me out by running various tests on me, including an ekg.

By God’s grace I remained fully conscious and showed no signs of being burned. I declined their offer to go to the hospital. After giving me further instructions, they left, I changed clothes and futiley tried to go back to sleep. After getting up and quietly reflecting on the night’s events for a couple of hours, I was able to wind down around 4:30 and get some sleep.

This afternoon my doctor helped me understand the nauseated and dizzy feelings that crept over me. My nerves, he said, have been “inflamed” and would take a while to calm down. The good news is that I never lost consciousness and there is no evidence of neurological damage (though some would probably challenge that). Basically, it is as if I am at my wit’s end all the time. Noise, bright lights and too much movement are…well, nerve wracking! He gave me an injection and ordered some other medications and put me on 48 hours of bedrest. That is where I am as I blog this. In my pajamas. ūüėČ

The hope is that I will recover sufficiently to preach Sunday (though I have had to pull out of teaching Dads and Sons Wednesday and will miss a couple of days of our Pilgrim’s Progress VBS) and then to travel to a board meeting for the Midwest Center on Monday, after which I will meet my family for several days of vacation. That will take me into the month of August which has been set aside for a brief sabbatical, part of which will be spent traveling.

What all of this together means is that I anticipate very little blogging over the next 6 weeks.

Though our family has been able to see some humor in all of this, we are also aware of its seriousness and are very grateful to the Lord for His mercy in these events. I recognize that His mercy and goodness would not have been diminished in the least had the lightning killed me. Nevertheless, His mercy has been manifested to me in that not only have I been spared serious injury, but also the frayed-nerves-feeling seems to be slowy improving.

Several friends have let me know of their prayers, and I am deeply grateful for these displays of grace and kindness to me.

The Lord reigns. As Elihu confesses, He sovereignly directs both thunder and lightning. By these heavenly displays He gives a clear witness of His greatness, in the words of Matthew Henry, “even to the most stupid and unthinking.” Even I got that.

“At this also my heart trembles,
And leaps from its place.
Hear attentively the thunder of His voice,
And the rumbling that comes from His mouth.
He sends it forth under the whole heaven,
His lightning to the ends of the earth.
After it a voice roars;
He thunders with His majestic voice,
And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard.
God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend.”
Job 37:1-5

Amen.
Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist Convention, Traditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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