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My Journey Down Devil's Backbone
Something kept me from throwing my life away.
Chris Lutes
Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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My Journey Down Devil's Backbone
Image: adrian/Unsplash

I remember a time of intense hopelessness.

It was during my high school years, and I was driving my 1963 VW bug down a back road known as Devil's Backbone. I imagine you might have grown up near a crooked road bearing a similar name—a two-lane road that should have been one. This particular Devil's backbone cut its twisting path through a marshland. If you hit its worst curves at more than 35 mph, you were begging to wind up in a swampy grave. Some said there was even quicksand in that marshland, but I'm pretty sure that was just embellishment meant to heighten the drama of local lore. But nobody needed to embellish the facts. Even without quicksand, Devil's Backbone was a desolate and dangerous strip of road ever ready to claim the lives of foolish speeders, drunken drivers, and suicidal teens.

Strange how life works sometimes. One quick, impulsive decision and I could have been a victim of Devil's Backbone.

I don't remember exactly what had set off my intense feelings of sadness and aloneness. I had them often—sometimes triggered by rejection by a girl, an argument with my dad, or a poor self-worth that plagued my teen years. During those times, a quote I'd heard in Lit. class often overwhelmed my thoughts: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Those words penned by Henry David Thoreau so many years ago described my mixed-up feelings excruciatingly well.

With despairing—and suicidal—thoughts clouding my thinking, I gripped the faded green steering wheel on my VW and sped up. But just before I went into the curve, I braked hard and entered the curve at around 45. The car whipped right, and left, and then slowed to crawl. I breathed heavily as my heart rate slowed to normal. I wove slowly through the rest of the curves until I came out of Devil's Backbone and onto a straightaway.

I'm honestly not exactly sure why I slowed down. I like to think, even before I found Christ, something had tugged at my soul and gave me a faint glimmer of hope that life might somehow get better tomorrow, or maybe the next day.

"The only thing that will keep you from going under is hope," says Ray Johnston in The Hope Quotient. "Hope makes you buoyant. Hope liberates. Hope motivates. Hope initiates. Hope activates. That's why hope is so important."

In my case, Ray Johnston was absolutely right. In the weeks following that experience on Devil's Backbone, hope in something I couldn't quite grasp at the time pushed me forward and made me believe that my life mattered. That there really was something better for my future.

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R.L. Fry

July 09, 2014  11:10am

I can relate brother, I am now 55, and have had numerous brain surgeries for Hydrocephalus, (water on the brain), since age 5! My last set of surgeries were in '01, when I was in my early 40's! I was sent home one day after surgery n my wife wemt to work n my kids went to school. I woke that morning n couldn't move, I had a mild stroke, n waited abt 3hrs until my nephew broke in our back door to the hospital. I was then transferred to the hospital where my neuro-surgeon was. It will get better! Isa.40:31 says "But those who wait upon the LORD (Shall), renew their strenth; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall rub and not grpw weary they shall walk and not faint. I can't run like I did in my youth, but I can get out n mow my lawn, I am back to driving, n when duties around the house are done I help out at our church! Stay strong brother! You are in my prayers!

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Gabriel Reyes

July 08, 2014  11:43pm

I am currently 28 years of age; became a Christian at the age of 12 when I had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. God brought me through 2 immediate surgeries to have the tumor removed & 8 weeks of radiation. I've tried my best to follow in Christ's steps, but fail daily. Though I believe & trust in God and in His Word, I am finding myself in a place of doubt. I'm trying to find my way in the darkened world by following God's Word, but it seems like every door I try to go through gets shut when I get to it. Thank you for your testimony and for the verse you concluded with, as I read Romans 5:5 I feel as if a little beam of light is shining on me.

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