Plowing All My Fears

Lindon Claridge Lindon 0 Comments

There is a guy I work with that keeps trying to seriously injure me, or maybe he’s trying to kill me, I can’t really tell. He is one of our heavy machinery operators. Don’t call him a “driver” though.  He gets really provoked when you call him that. I learned that the hard way. He is extremely adamant that he is an “operator,” so much so that he thinks he is Hector Reborn of machine operating.

He does his job and he does it decently well, I’ll give him that, but he isn’t the only machine operator on our crew. Yet when there is a need for a bobcat, or a forklift, or a backhoe tractor, he is the first one to unnecessarily run it to it and get on it. Then he will purposely stay on it all day so that no one else will be able to get on, which is completely aggravating for some of the other operators. Especially those guys that aren’t as experienced and are trying to use this prison job as a way to get some practice under their belt, so they’ll have a better chance at getting a job when they get out. But no, he’s a hog.

I’ve totally seen him take all day to move one pile of dirt to another spot, and then back again just so no one else can get on. If anyone will be operating you can bet he’ll do everything he can to make sure it’s him. They call him “Plow Boy.”  He’s been on this construction crew for “20 years!” I know that because he’ll tell you that at least five times a day. He knows his stuff and works hard though…if you could say sitting on a cushion toggling joysticks all day is work. Our bosses love him, which is why he can get away with whatever he wants.  The inmates see right through him, though.

He is a nice enough guy. He always makes sure he does his Bible study every night. He’s complementary and makes sure to say good morning. Shoot, if I didn’t know that he wants to hurt me really badly, I’d think him to be a pretty cool dude. But alas, when someone continuously tries to harm you, you begin to peer deeply into the character of who that person truly is.

It’s become such a nuisance lately that I’m beginning to think I don’t like this guy very much.

These are pretty big accusations, though, especially since I can’t really prove them because, well, I’m still alive. He hasn’t been able to hurt me yet. He is careful. He is quiet. He is patient. The triple threat to a deadly opponent. However, his schemes have been thwarted every time. Little does he know that he is going into the ring with the Spirit who is way more careful, more quiet, and more patient. So even though he makes sure he catches me alone, that I’m not looking and that it’ll look like an accident, of the 20 something times he’s tried to run me over or hit me with the heavy machinery, the Spirit has warned me every time.

I’ve moved just in the nick of time more times than I can remember. Am I grateful? Oh, you bet ya! I call it “my spidey senses are tingling,” and it humbles me to the core that my life is worth preserving in the eyes of my Heavenly Father!

I actually have no idea why he dislikes me so. I’ve been nothing but a saint to him. My only idea is just that that I’m a “goody-goody” and that is a threat to him. Also, I think it is because I am young and should I even dare say…that I’m smarter than him. But like I said, I have no concrete proof, so I can’t call him out or get assistance. If I did, then I think he’d come at me more directly.

He is a pretty big guy, too. A man’s man. So I feel it’s a safer play just to keep killing him with kindness. Some days are better than others. At times I think I get through to him, but then he does something crazy again, and we’re right back at it.

I really thought I got through to him when we had this really hard talk in front of the rest of the crew (I strategically placed that one), but in the end he offered to go settle it like man when we get back to the block – he means to fight. All I said was “You and I both know you’d whoop me, so what’s the point?” His reply, “Okay then. We have nothing more to talk about.” Ha! The animals I live with. They think all should be settled on brute force alone. If you have the power to take it, then it is yours. If you can win in a fight, then you are right. Straight savages…

There was one day I stooped really low to his level. We were at work on the jobsite. I broke off from the rest of the crew to get a drink of water. All of a sudden my glasses fall off my face. The screw that held one of the arms came undone. Dang, these cheap state glasses! Not only are you hideous, but you always break! Sadly, I didn’t see where the tiny screw landed in the grass. I needed it if I was going to put my glasses back together and get back to work. So I got down and tried searching for it. I had to hold my glasses to my face, or else I’d really never find the screw.  Well, 10 minutes go by, and I still can’t find it. The screw is incredibly itty-bitty.

Next thing I know I feel impressed to roll to my right. Huh? I flawlessly obeyed the prompting. You know, never postpone a prompting?  So I rolled over onto my back. Lo and behold, here comes Plow Boy in his tractor, missing me by inches. His bucket is full of dirt and he drives to the dirt pile, unloads and drives back over the same spot; the spot where I lost my screw. Now I know I’ll never find it since the tire treads just sank everything into the ground. I’ll admit it, I was pissed! But I held my composure.

Then, later that day, there was another close call. This caused my anger to boil over! I gave into plenty of not so kind thoughts towards Mr. Plow. Nothing ever came out in words, but my thoughts sure were ugly. I was chewing him a new one inside my head, you can be sure of that. I still had work to do, so I attended to it with steam coming out of my ears.

The job we were doing was digging electrical trenches to lay down some pipe. Earlier in the morning we located a gas line which I was told to be very careful around as it could cause a serious explosion if it was hit the right way. I became instantly fearfull being around that pipe.

My boss man then told me to put a layer of dirt over the gas line since we had a cement truck coming to pour in the trenches to keep the electrical PVC pipes in place. He told me the only way the cement truck could reach the trenches is to come over the gas line. I complied and put a layer of dirt over the gas line, then waited for the cement truck to come. It finally arrived and sure enough, it drove over the gas line on the thin layer of dirt I had placed there. It was in this moment that I realized just how thin the layer of dirt was. I really began to fear. I didn’t put enough dirt! Cement trucks are super-heavy.

Not only is the truck itself heavy, but it was carrying tons of concrete, which made it even heavier. My face was white. I don’t think I’ve ever been that mortally fearful of death than I was in that moment. I was sick. Full of fear! I just knew the truck would crack the gas line and every single person around would be incinerated in the explosion. I prayed heavily. Oh, did I pray heavily!

You know when they say your life flashes right before your eyes before you die…? Well, I now know what they mean by that, because it really does! My past and my future passed before my eyes in an instant. I’ve lived a good life. I’ve had many things to be grateful for, but I still had soooo much to repent of. Even still, I had many unaccomplished dreams and desires! My body was in a fight-four-survival mode that primal natural reaction in all of us I suppose. I desperately wanted to live, clawing for a way out, which only intensified my fear of death. I was a mess.

But now in retrospect, I somewhat realize why Heavenly Father allowed for that fear to envelop me. It was in these moments of reflection that I tried to welcome death and be okay with it – if that was in fact the Father’s will. But peace wouldn’t settle over me, though, no matter what. I kept thinking of Plow Boy, and when I did, great guilt coursed through my being. “Really Lindon… your last thoughts and intents on this mortal earth was spent in anger and hope for justice against a brother of yours? The very last moments of your life, you wished for pain on another child of God! You should be ashamed of yourself!” Oh, golly, I sure was!

My whole life was put into perspective in those 10 minutes when that cemented truck drove over and backed out on top of that gas line. The things that had bothered me, no longer seemed so important. Likewise, the things I truly loved in life gained a whole new priority in my heart. This was a God-given gift, I have no doubt.

My world was altered a bit after that. The hues of my life got brighter, while the grays became softer. I saw greater purpose for myself. I was more than a man to get angry at someone for trying to kill me (as crazy as that seems).  More important than life is righteousness, and I’ve been fighting for the wrong thing for way too long. After that truck left and all was okay, my anger for everything seemed to dissipate. I was happy in humility. Above all, I felt more alive than I ever have. Like that “frozen” movie, I let it all go. I chose to live in Christ. I believe that is now how I can go through so much junk or see my loved ones endure sore trials and be good with it all. Life is but a moment – no sense living it in fear and agony.

   

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Lindon Claridge

I know when you smile everyone wonders what's up, so I keep smiling. If the grass is growin', I'm still goin'!

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