The Frailty of Life: What I Have Learned Since Getting on a 4 Wheeler Three Months Ago (Don Blackwell)



when we were in the hospital we received approximately 2800 cards many of these cards that we received also had gift cards in them many of them had chick-fil-a gift cards in them in fact I joke that we will be eating chick-fil-a until the Lord comes again but we started taking these cards and we started hanging them on the wall in the hospitals when we got to about 1100 cards we had so covered the hospital walls that we did not have room every person who walked in was in awe there was a man who worked in the mailroom he said he’d been there something like 14 years he said he had never seen anything like that in his years working at the Shepherd Center I remember somebody walking in and they said wow are you somebody famous and I said I’m a Christian I said that’s what brethren do

Benefits of Suffering

  1. Suffering teaches us how to pray
  2. Suffering takes away the love of this world
  3. Suffering allows Christians lights to shine
  4. Helps you have a proper perspective on physical possesions


The Frailty of Life: What I Have Learned Since Getting on a 4 Wheeler Three Months Ago (Don Blackwell) 1
The Frailty of Life: What I Have Learned Since Getting on a 4 Wheeler Three Months Ago (Don Blackwell) 3


Over the course of 25 years of polishing the pulpit there have been some monumental occasions for us one of the great men of the Brotherhood who helped so tremendously with polished in the pulpit preached his last sermon and polished in the pulpit we’ve had a man who came to the pulpit to speak to us after having lost his son in a very violent way we have had a man who came before us whose heart was broken because his family had dissolved there have been a number of occasions through the years in which we’ve wept with those who weep we’ve rejoiced with those who rejoice and there have been some very epic occasions for us but none perhaps like tonight my brother Don blackwell his good wife sherry I with us deny Don is here to speak to us Don is the executive director of gospel Broadcasting Network he is the gospel preacher and also one of the elders for the South Haven Congress I know you know his story there’s no one here tonight who has not likely offered a prayer for him who has not sent a card to him who has not offered encouragement for the congregation itself I’m not going to take anything away from what he has to say but I know firsthand how a Brotherhood has wrapped your arms around this good couple this good church this good Christian family and for that from the bottom of our hearts at PTP thank you continue to encourage continue to help them however you can we love them we appreciate them and it is with great honor that I introduce to you tonight our brother and our friend Don Blackwell I’m so very glad to be here tonight when Alan first called me or came and asked me to speak I was still in the hospital and I did not know whether I was going to be here because I didn’t know if I’d be out of the hospital and I did not know if I would physically be able to make the PTP this week and so I’m especially glad to be here this evening after I had been in the hospital I guess so maybe two months or so I was finally able to leave on the weekends and a local congregation in Atlanta asked me if I would come and speak and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do that but I was very nervous it was the first time I had spoken since the accident I had not preached in a couple of months I was worried about my voice I was worried about not being able to be behind a pulpit because obviously I was going to be too short you know how am I going to get up on the stage I can’t stand I’m in a wheelchair all these things are going through my mind and I was worried and just before I got up to speak the song leader got up and led the song and it actually kind of made me laugh but he got up and led the song stand up for Jesus and I leaned over to Sherry and I said that song is very offensive since I have been in the chair and I’m looking up at everyone I have had some new perspectives number one everyone is tall number two I have seen a lot of double chins that I didn’t even know about in the past but I have learned a lot more on May the 5th of this year I started a gospel meeting in Salem Virginia at the Westside congregation where brother Eddie Gilpin preaches the very next day on Monday May the 6th Eddie and Jeanie invited us over to their house for lunch they told us we were going to be going to a little cafe nearby their house and we were very interested we were expecting a restaurant and so they took us outside and we got on the four-wheelers to head to this cafe and we were surprised because they took us out to a little shady area under the trees very beautiful and and we said and we ate together you can see a picture of us here sitting there eating and it was just a wonderful lunch that they had prepared you could not have asked for a better day afterwards we took a tour of the property on the four-wheelers Eddie and Jeanie were on one four-wheeler ahead of us and sherry and I were on the second one following them and as we were riding through the hay field this this is where I go blank apparently we hit something and they say that my four-wheeler flipped several times sherry flew in one direction and I flew off in the other direction when I hit the ground I broke my back and I severed my spinal cord when Eddie got to me I was unconscious and in fact he thought I was dead sherry had gone far enough away that she couldn’t see me but she said she could hear us she heard Eddie he kept calling my name but I wasn’t responding she said that she was praying to God that I wasn’t dead and that I wasn’t brain damaged after a bit and I still don’t remember any of this but Eddie said that I woke up and I started saying I can’t feel my cherry was at a distance and she said she could hear me groaning and she said my speech was slurred and and I was hurting and and she said that I was saying I can’t breathe please move me please lift me but of course Eddie couldn’t do that because he he didn’t know if he was gonna hurt me or not and so they called an ambulance the ambulance came and very quickly they called a medivac helicopter who flew me to the hospital in Roanoke Virginia they determined that I had broken my back they determined that I had a broken sternum that I had a cracked c1 vertebra they determined that my spinal cord had been severed they operated and fused together 5a vertebrae in fact can you show the slide of the I want you to look at this this was the x-ray of my back you can see that it was literally broken into when I woke up in the hospital I was very confused the last thing I remembered was riding through the hay field and so I asked the doctor where am I and he said you’re in the hospital you’ve been in an accident and then I said I can’t feel my legs and he said you have a severed spinal cord and I said will I ever walk again and he said we don’t know those things for sure but he said probably not I thought it was a dream and I for the next two or three days I would wake up and I was on morphine and a lot of medication and and I thought to myself this is one of those bad dreams and I’m going to wake up and it’s it’s gonna go away and after two or three days I woke up and and I realized this is not a dream and I was absolutely devastated after about a week and a half they flew me to Shepherd Center in Atlanta Georgia and I spent the next two and a half months in a rehab unit and I just got out of there and went home about three weeks ago now my time is limited tonight and so I’m gonna stop with the narrative right there and I want to make some applications tonight from this event from the experience that I have had three things I’m going to do tonight or this number one I want us to notice some applications some observation if you will number two I want to talk about some benefits of suffering particularly my suffering and then number three I want to ask the question where do I go from here where do we go from here number one tonight is this some observation some applications from this event number one is suffering brethren when I hit the ground and I was lying there with my spinal cord broken of course I don’t remember it but I was in pain and as I recall Eddy telling me I was begging him to help me because I was hurting I don’t remember that later I do remember being in the hospital and I was in pain that was the most intense that I can remember in my life I can remember begging the nurse for help and I remember her saying to me there’s nothing that I can do at which point I became desperate I remember that eventually I was brought to tears and I was begging her please give me morphine please get the doctor finally she called the doctor and the doctor gave me something later on as I was starting to have my pain level down I got to thinking about something here’s the point I want I want to make here about suffering rather my pain was so intense it was so bad but I want you to consider a person who goes to hell the PERT the pain that I was feeling was nothing compared to that that person will have pain that is a million times worse and they will beg for relief but they won’t get in it they will be in darkness they will be in fire and it’s not going to stop revelation 14 and verse 11 says and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever and they have no rest day or night when you experience that kind of pain you think to yourself I don’t want to do that I don’t want anything like that to happen to me number two an observation and application we don’t know what tomorrow holds now James 4:14 we know very well where as you know not what will happen on tomorrow for what is your life it’s even a vapor that appears for a little time vanishes away on this particular day we were having a wonderful day and then suddenly without warning I nearly died and I have thought what if I had hit the ground and I had lifted up my eyes in eternity ladies and gentlemen it will forever be impressed upon my not my mind how real of a reality that is and at any moment any one of us could unexpectedly die and it’s going to be too late and how I was living just a moment prior to that is going to be the only thing that will matter I had this completely unexpected and all of the sudden I could have lifted up my eyes and eternity like Luke chapter 16 the rich man lifts up his eyes in torment you’ve got Lazarus lifts up his eyes to see angels and each one of us is likewise going to meet one of those two alternatives number three I want to say a word about the suffering of our Lord something occurred to me as I was lying in the hospital bed and some of the worst pain that I can recall in my life I thought to myself I will do anything to make this stop anything just make it stop later when they brought me back to the room and the pain had subsided I remember thinking to myself I would have done anything to make that stop and it occurred to me that when our Lord endured his suffering and the subsequent crucifixion he could have stopped it far worse pain he could have stopped it Luke chapter or John chapter 10 and verse 17 listen to the words of this therefore doth my father love me because I lay down my life no man taketh it from me but I lay it down friends that puts a whole new light to me on the sacrifice of our Lord he said I am volunteering to do this he could have stopped it but he chose not to number four I want to say something about the will of God since this accident I have repeatedly had people come to me and say something like this they said well Don this has happened for a reason or it was God’s will or you know this is part of God’s plan or words to that effect French I want to tell you tonight I do not believe that it was God who caused me to have that four wheel accident I don’t believe that was God’s plan you know if we are not careful we are getting dangerously close to Calvinism and suggesting that God causes everything to happen both good and bad the fact of the matter is God has given us freewill and He allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions you know sometimes maybe there’ll be a drunk driver and that drunk driver will hit a little child or hit a little baby and and kill them and then maybe at the funeral some well-meaning brother or sister will say to those parents something like this they’ll say well God must have wanted your little baby in heaven are you kidding me no wonder people get mad at God when they think that that’s what he has done that’s not God’s will that was a violation of God’s will that took that little baby away we need to be very careful what we say we need to understand that not everything that happens is the will of God number two major point number two I want to talk about some benefits of suffering particularly my suffering and the reason I wanted to include this point is because the skeptics the Atheist sometimes we’ll use suffering as a proof as they will say it that God does not exist they will see God is not all loving if he allows you to suffer or he’s not powerful enough to stop it I want to suggest you tonight that there are some very great blessings and benefits that actually come from suffering and I want to list a few of these from my own personal experience number one suffering teaches us how to pray brethren I have never prayed so hard in my life as I did after this accident I begged the Lord to let me walk again I begged the Lord to let me walk again I have prayed some intense prayers in my life but I can’t ever remember begging the Lord in prayer thousands of faithful Christians around the world were praying for me I asked them to say the same prayer a skeptic might argue well you’re not walking are you you’re supposed to God didn’t answer your prayer did he I would say that he did answer he simply answered no at least for now no I don’t know why but we have to keep in mind that God sees the entire timeline of my life I only see right now God sees the entire puzzle I only see a piece of the puzzle or a few pieces of the puzzle but I know this I know that I have been immensely blessed through this entire process and I know that if you run into someone who doesn’t believe in the power of prayer I want you to send him to me because I want to talk to him number two a benefit of suffering suffering makes me not love this world since this accident I have said multiple times this world is not my home I’m just passing through John 14 and verse 2 the Lord said in my father’s house there are many mansions if it were not so I would have told you I go to prepare a place for you if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may be also I want to read you a quote from brother Don McWhorter brother brother Don wrote this woe to the man or woman whose life on this earth is so pleasant that he forgets about heaven isn’t that a good quote here’s a third one a third benefit of suffering suffering allows Krish lights to shine Matthew chapter 5 and verse 16 says let your light so shine that men let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven when we were in the hospital we received approximately 2800 cards many of these cards that we received also had gift cards in them many of them had chick-fil-a gift cards in them in fact I joke that we will be eating chick-fil-a until the Lord comes again but we started taking these cards and we started hanging them on the wall in the hospitals when we got to about 1100 cards we had so covered the hospital walls that we did not have room every person who walked in was in awe there was a man who worked in the mailroom he said he’d been there something like 14 years he said he had never seen anything like that in his years working at the Shepherd Center I remember somebody walking in and they said wow are you somebody famous and I said I’m a Christian I said that’s what brethren do and it made an impression on every person who came in there in fact it was kind of coincidental but I was in the hospital along with Kenny Rogers the the singer and somebody made the observation Kenny Rogers didn’t even receive that many cards and I said well Kenny Rogers is not a Christian the church at Southaven started a GoFundMe account to raise money to pay medical bills and to help us afterwards and one man who was not a member of the church said to me he said that he saw that online and he saw how much money was being given and he said he thought to himself I gotta find out about this church as a result of that that man has now been coming to the church at Southaven and he’s agreed to have a Bible study and we’re going to be doing that when I get back home let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father which is in heaven number four benefit of suffering suffering helps you to keep a proper perspective on physical possessions brethren in the months and weeks after this accident I started thinking about all the things that I was going to have to give up many of them because I didn’t have the ability to use them anymore the week before last I sold my pickup truck and I loved my pickup truck and this whole experience has made me stop and realize I shouldn’t love things that much you know isn’t that the problem that the rich young ruler had that he loved his things too much maybe this accident helped me end up not loving my things you know the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus because he loved his stuff and immediately after that the Lord said to his disciples assuredly I say to you it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and again I say to you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God Matthew 19 23 and you know what I am rich and you are rich now you might say I’m not rich compared to the rest of the world we are rich people and many other wise faithful Christians are going to lose their soul because of this issue number 5 sup suffering it brings out the best in people I hired two firemen in Hernando Mississippi to cut my grass and take care of my lawn they’re not members of the church they do this on the side to make extra money when they found out what had happened to me they have been cutting my grass for free for the last three months and they will not allow me to pay them the week before last after worship services we went to Longhorns to eat and the waiter saw me in the chair and he stopped and he asked me what happened and I told him and he just grabbed me and hugged me when we got ready to pay the bill the waitress said to me your bills been paid and I said by who and she said by that waiter over there he’s picked up the Brethren these are people who are not even members of the church that it is just brought out the good in people I have since the day of the accident my parents were there with me every single day for three months I watched my daddy who’s 75 years old lifts my body and helped dress me I watched my wife do many unpleasant tasks the nurse said to me my nurse in the hospital said to me that over the years she’s worked there she’s seen many people’s spouses after an accident of this nature that they leave them they divorced them they don’t want the life that comes after this the church at Southaven has been incredible the Brotherhood as a whole has so impressed me many people in this room have given to help purchase a van so that I can drive by myself it’s out here in the parking lot if you want to take a test drive of it you have been such a blessing to us many people drove hundreds of miles just to help encourage us John 13 of verse 35 Jesus said by this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another number six suffering humbles us this entire experience has greatly humbled me before this event I was physically strong I was financially well-off I had control of my life at work I was the boss you know when everything goes your way it is easy to get full of yourself but when everything comes crashing down an accident like this makes you realize how much you depend on God there was a whole team of highly skilled doctors who could not do anything for my situation and it makes you realize how much you depend on God this accident has humbled me in a way that I have never been humbled and I think that’s been good you know first Peter 5 and verse 6 therefore therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time number 7 suffering makes you sympathetic to other people you may think that you sympathized with someone but until you have been there personally there’s no way to know but once you have been there yourself and you know what it’s like you want to help people that are hurting you want to be there Romans 12:15 – the Bible tells us to weep with those who weep when I see someone who is handicapped now when I see someone who’s in a wheelchair now or in pain or their back hurts I will never view it the same I want to be there for that person and that’s a blessing of suffering number eight suffering purifies us now what do I mean by that what I mean by that is this when I realize how close I came to dying when I realize just like that I could have lifted up my eyes being in eternity it made me stop and search my life for any kind of shortcomings any kind of sin when I realized that at any moment I could be thrust into eternity I don’t want there to be anything that can cause me to be lost you know second Corinthians 13 and verse 5 says examine yourselves whether you be in the faith test yourselves that doesn’t mean whether you’re Christian it means whether you’re living in accordance with the faith whether you’re walking in the light psalm 119 of verse 67 David said before he said that he went astray before he was afflicted now what did he mean by that well he kind of tells us in verse 71 because he says it was good for me that I had been afflicted that I might learn your statutes now what’s he saying he’s saying their blessings that come from this and I think that’s one of the benefits of suffering here’s major point number three where do I go from here where do you go from here I’m paralyzed I can’t walk and I probably will never walk again I want to suggest to you number one where do I go from here brethren how I behave myself and the attitude that I have is going to determine whether I’m not going to be happy how can I be happy in the face of a great difficulty like this number one is this Paul said that he had learned in whatsoever state he was to be content Philippians chapter four and verse eleven I want to suggest to you that every one of us makes a choice whether to be happy or whether to be miserable there’s something that was very interesting in the hospital because I’m what’s described as a paraplegic but there would be people who were quadriplegics who are riding around in a wheelchair with the straw in their mouth just so that they could get around the hospital and they were happy how do you explain that except every one of us makes a choice to be happy or to be miserable every one of us makes that choice every single day number two how can I determine to be happy don’t forget that you’re a Christian one day I was in the hospital and I was feeling overwhelmed with sorrow I was thinking about all the things I had lost I was thinking about possessions I was thinking about physical abilities I was thinking about things that I would never be able to do again my daughter Lauren and my son-in-law Kacy had come to visit us on Father’s Day weekend and when they left I was just very sad to see them go and the iPhone does something interesting it will take pictures in your phone and it will put together a video of an event and just randomly send it to you so they left and I was sad and my I get a noticed that my iPhone had sent me a video and I looked down that at night out of curiosity start watching it well it had put together a trip to Disney World and I started watching this and there was a picture of me standing there strong with my hands around my children and I thought to myself I will never do that again at least not in that way and I thought how can I go on like this and then I thought to myself I’m a Christian this is all temporary this life is short and then I’m going to go into heaven and then I thought I’ve got it made and then I got to thinking about all the other people in the hospital with me and I pitied them and I got to thinking if all I had was this life and I was going to spend it paralyzed and then I was going to die friends that would be miserable number two where do I go from here we need to realize now I want you to listen to this because this is going to sound like a strange statement we need to realize that God did not put us on this earth to be happy I want you to listen to this quote this is from Jane mcquarters book let this cup pass she said we are here to prepare ourselves for life after death it doesn’t really matter whether we live 50 years or 100 years neither does it matter whether those years are carefree or filled with sorrow the only consideration of lasting importance is where we will spend eternity Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 13 says let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter fear God and keep his Commandments for this is the whole duty of man we know the word Duty has been added it means literally this is the hold of man the entirety of man is to fear God and to keep his Commandments and sometimes I can do that best when I’m suffering many of us I think even Christians some time’s fall into the trap that we believe our purpose in life is to be happy and to be entertained and to be comfortable and quite the opposite many times is the case number three with the two previous points in mind I want to suggest where do we go from here I want to be evangelistic with all of the people in the hospital I said I want all of those people to have the same hope that I have and who knows maybe this accident maybe this disability is going to open the door for me to teach some people that I didn’t have the opportunity to teach before and if I can teach one person because of this condition and he becomes Christian and he goes to heaven eternally then it will be well worth it to spend to spend 30 years in a wheelchair for a person to spend eternity in heaven you’ll look back and you’ll say that 30 years was nothing it was well worth it after the accident I have thought to myself many times if I could trade all of my earthly possessions my house my car’s my truck every cent that I have in the bank just to be able to walk again I thought I would do it in a second and not have to think about it but you know there’s one thing that I would not trade and that is my soul Matthew chapter 16 and verse 26 says for what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul you know there’s nothing more important than your soul and one thing that I have learned through all of this is life is frail life is short I don’t know what’s going to be on tomorrow and at any second we don’t believe it many times we think it’s a preacher story it is impressed upon my mind at any second unexpectedly you can open your eyes and be facing eternity and the only thing that’s gonna matter is how was I living one second earlier if you’re here tonight and you’re not a Christian there’s only one thing that matters and that is what is the condition of my soul

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