Let me tell you about my recent pilgrimage.

Each year – or every couple – I venture back to the place where it all changed for me. My holy ground spot. My very own Mecca of sorts: Ft. Bluff, Dayton, Tennessee.


This year’s sacred trek marked the 33rd anniversary of of my near-fatal stumble and spill from an off-limits bluff in the mountains of eastern Tennessee that early October night. A broken back lost me use of my legs. I also lost my favorite jacket in those hills that night, along with a great pair of jeans – each cut off my body to get to the injuries. No, not my legs, just the clothes.

The day before, I hadn’t really planned on making the trip. I knew the weather would be perfect for the drive, gas prices were coming down, and I had no Thursday plans. Still, I thought – I thought – I’d just lay low and spend some quiet hours at home with the Lord.

But then I started thinking about that number.


Did it carry any significance?

I don’t espouse numerology per se, but I do allow that there are deeper meanings in scripture for certain numbers. We ascribe significance to the numbers five (grace), six (man), seven (divine perfection), eight (new beginnings), ten (human government), twelve (divine authority), forty (testing and trials), fifty (jubilee, feasts, celebrations), and seventy (judgment). Then, of course there’s the infamous 6-6-6…

But 33. So I looked it up.

My immediate thought was Jesus’ lifespan (using a little Bible math) being thirty-three years, but beyond that, I got nothing. I did a quick Google search, staying far afield from the more mystical, New-Agey sites, found a less sensational page and discovered:

  • the number 3 denotes a covenant, a completeness, and 33 signifies a fulfillment of a pledge in which there is satisfaction between the parties
  • the 33rd time Noah’s name is mentioned, it was God’s covenant of promise not to destroy the earth by water ever again
  • the 33rd time Abraham’s name joins the narrative of redemption was the fulfillment of God’s promise by bringing Isaac into the Story
  • words in the ancient Bible language carried numerical value and the word “AMEN” has a numerical value of (you guessed it) thirty-three
  • _________________

    All that got me thinking:

    fulfilled vow,

    satisfied ending,

    promise delivered,

    punctuated amen…


    I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every October 2nd, I entertain just the faintest smidgen of a hope that THIS will be the anniversary. I tell myself Jehovah-jireh has seen my faithful acceptance, my joy-filled surrender, my enduring contentment, and He will reward me with restored legs. It’s not so much a hope that I drive away from Ft. Bluff dashed and despairing. No, but still.

    After my Google/Bible study I instinctively changed my plans for the next day. Yep, I was gonna go on pilgrimage. And hope again.

    I didn’t hear the Lord make any promises that I’d walk again, but I did hear Him promise to meet with me in His Word. The sense within was strong to spend my time in every 33rd chapter of the Bible. There are ten books with at least 33 chapters: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 2 Chronicles, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

    I’ll spare you the verbosity (too late?) and skip over a lot of good stuff (to me), but labor-intensive to ye.

    As promised in my Weather Channel app, the day couldn’t have been any more tailor-made for a Fall drive.


    Arriving at my destination around two o’clock, I passed under the camp’s main arch and along the familiar gravel road I’d followed many times and into the camp proper, wending my way past fresh-mown lawns and between well-kept buildings to the very back. To the main bluff.

    Where everything changed.

    Howzabout I stop here, give you a break, and pick up where we left off in tomorrow’s post. See you at 8:30 am EST!

    Post Author: Pasturescott

    2 Replies to “Broke Back Mountain Man (Year 33) – Part 1”

    1. You always remember where you were when you hear shocking news. I was waiting in line for Breakfast at TTU’s wonderful dining facility the morning after your fall. It was so hard to believe. I remember your return to campus, your positive attitude. Was there a wheelchair basketball game?

      It is wonderful to see how God has blessed your ministry.

      1. Sam, thank you. I know God told me in those early days He’d do it through me if I only let Him. I’m honored to say He’s kept His word even when I haven’t always kept mine 🙂

        Yes, the Mitchellonians beat TTU’s varsity the weekend after they won the nat’l ch’ship. They couldn’t stop me. Lol!

        Btw, you are the front runner for the book!

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