I was raised in a little country church that my granddaddy started. And I’ve heard Psalms 46:10 all my life. But I never knew that one day that verse would save my life…
As a professional entertainer, I’d been on the road for a while, and I couldn’t wait to get home to see my family and enjoy the countryside where I live, on land that once belonged to my great granddaddy. There’s just something about coming home that makes it feel like it’s a special holiday when you’ve been gone a while.
It was a beautiful, cool, sunshiny February day in Georgia, and I hadn’t walked for exercise for some time, so I decided this would be a good day to get out of the house and enjoy it.
I love looking at the trees and the sky and feeling a closeness with God when I’m by myself in such a beautiful setting. I’ve always had a deep connection to this precious land, and the creative parts of me seem to kick into high gear when I’m on it. In fact, I’ve started writing many songs walking down that road in front of my house. It has always been a special time for me.
I had walked this road for over forty years, and it was like a part of my existence.
On this February day, I had walked a mile and turned around where I always do and had started back toward home. When I had gone about half a mile, three pit bulldogs came out of nowhere and started barking and following close behind me. I tried to ignore them and not look them in the eye hoping that would help. I’ve always heard that it would. But it didn’t.
The dogs lunged at me and all of them started biting my legs. One of them even bit down so deeply that it hung on for a while, even as I tried to lift my leg to get away. I didn’t have a stick, or a cell phone, so I turned to see if I could find something laying on the ground nearby - a rock or anything. About that time the dogs knocked me to the ground, while at the same time grabbing my arm and wrist. They proceeded to take one of my shoes off, and chew on my ankle.
There I was on the ground in a wet ditch of weeds, crawling and clawing around trying to find a stick or something! I found a small stick that was part of a vine, but in that moment it seemed a lot bigger. I just needed some protection, even though I knew it really wouldn’t help. But maybe it would bring a little comfort to just have something in my hand during this terrifying and stressful ordeal.
The dogs started to play with my shoe they had taken off, so I was thankful for at least a minute that they were distracted. I had a decision to make. Should I run and hopefully be able to get away from them, or should I just sit there?
All of a sudden, something spoke to me as plain as day. I heard a voice say “Be still”.
I thought “Really?! Be still and sit here with the dogs looking at me eye to eye?!”
But that’s what I did. Sitting there, defenseless, I drew my knees up to my chin as far as I could and tried to cover my neck with my bleeding arm, holding that little stick in front of my face, in hopes that someone would drive by, see me, and rescue me.
The dogs continued to play with my shoe as if it were a doggie toy, chewing it and throwing it up in the air and catching it. Then they’d line up right in front of my face, only inches away, showing me their teeth, growling and barking. They’d already bitten me many times and there was a lot of blood, but they never touched me while I sat with them, and they could have easily finished me off.
It felt as if I had a shield surrounding me. They would get so close but never touch. I started talking to the Lord, preparing myself for what might happen. I was thinking that this would probably be the end for me. And I so hated the idea of my mama finding me there on the side of the road, gone to be with the Lord. But God had plans to keep me safe, and to spare my life.
Eventually, after what seemed like a lifetime, a couple of neighbors drove by, and my heart sank when they didn’t stop. But then I saw their car stop on down the road, and they started backing up. All of a sudden, I could breathe better! But I still didn’t move…
While one neighbor distracted the dogs on the other side of the car, the other one pulled me out of the ditch and got me in their car. I was rushed to the emergency room, and ended up having months of treatment at a wound clinic. And still today, I continue to have trouble with the muscles and nerves in my legs from the damage. But I’m alive and living life and not taking one day for granted!
To this day, every single day, I think about hearing those words - “Be still.” And I’ve even had those words permanently tattooed, below the deep scar that was left on my arm, as a constant reminder. I call it my "vine bracelet."
This experience taught me that in times of trouble, no matter how frightening the situation may be, we just need to be still and listen for the voice of God. I truly believe that if I hadn’t listened that morning, I wouldn’t be here today.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10.