I was logging on to a website the other day and I got a dialog box that said, “Thanks for logging on, Charles.” However, at my age (I’ll be 72 in a couple of weeks) I don’t always see things the way they are written and what I read was, “Thanks for hanging on, Charles.” Now if there is anything in which I really excel, it is “hanging on” in all of its meanings. One of my favorite quotes, besides the one above, is “When you get to your wits end, you will find, God lives there.” It’s a favorite quote because I have proved it to be true on many, many occasions. On January 3, 1977, I was told that I only had a one in ten chance of living two more years because I had malignant melanoma in an advanced state. I simply didn’t believer the doctor’s prognosis but did whatever was asked of me. Turns out I have lived almost thirty-nine years since then, so that two-year figure was a little off. I was actually pronounced dead and was signed off in the emergency room at St. Mary’s in Rogers, Arkansas, on February 16, 1996. An off-duty nurse was passing by, jumped up on the table and started pounding on my chest and brought me back—where I remain to this day. She was a temp, and when I went back to thank her weeks later, no one knew her name or where she had gone. Don’t know if you can count that as me hanging on or her pounding me back, but here I am. I once was choking to death on a cheeseburger at the airport in Little Rock, Arkansas, and a Baptist pastor appeared out of nowhere, popped the offending piece of food out of my throat and then disappeared. Dodged another bullet and hung on. I was test riding a BMW dirt bike in Bentonville, Arkansas, a year before we moved to Africa. While I was riding it, out in the middle of nowhere, my implanted defibrillator (remember me being dead at St. Mary’s?) went off, and I crashed into a ditch with the motorcycle on top of me, still running. I tried to call 911, but when the operator asked me where I was, all I could tell her was that I was on my back, somewhere in Northwest Arkansas and that I could see blue sky. While I was talking, the motorcycle engine was turned off and a man took the phone out of my hand and gave the 911 operator exact directions to my location for the ambulance. He took off his shirt, rolled it up and put it under my head after he had taken the bike off of me. As I was being loaded into the ambulance, he told me he would take the bike back. Several days later after I was pronounced hale and hearty again, I went back to the motorcycle dealer and found that the good Samaritan had indeed brought the bike back and paid for the minor damage to it. The dealer had no idea who the man was, and I do not know to this day, but while on my back in the ditch, I hung on—it’s what I’m good at. I’ve had emergency surgery to save my life in Mwanza, Tanzania, and in Nairobi, Kenya, where I had to hang on till they could get to me and time was running out. Some might say that what I am calling “hanging on” is, in reality, just waiting till God sends an angel to take care of me. I figure if that’s the case, I’ve been tying up at least a dozen guardian angels for quite some time. What I do know, is that in an awful lot of emergency situations, the best thing to do is to “hang on.” I’ve just mentioned a few of the life or death moments in my lifetime because there have been many. I tell whoever will listen that I’ve been trying to get into heaven for decades but keep getting sent back. I must still have work to do for God here that He thinks no one else can do. God has too much faith in me, I think, or He knows things that would scare me if I knew them.
A long time ago, I read somewhere that all that God really requires of us, is that each day, within its circumstances, we are to be obedient and available. If you can’t “hang on,” you can’t be available to be obedient. Hanging on turns out to be a virtue of the highest order. It takes guts, courage, and a hefty measure of tranquility in the face of chaos, but if I can do it, you can do it. Thanks for “hanging on” my friends.