So, looking at this big brown fur, I realized this is a mountain lion, and so, that excitement quickly went to just incredible fear, just terrified. I mean, like I am the only one up here. There’s nobody here, and here you have one of the strongest animals we have in the U.S. here, and it’s feet from me. We had about a seven to ten minute stare off like this. I realized, “You can have this mountain.” The only way down was passed this mountain lion or behind me to go connect to the Colorado trail, which was the length of the state somewhere in the mountains, and so I just started backing up, trying to let this animal know that I’m no threat, which, obviously, I’m not a threat to it.
I was backing up and as soon as the scrub oak and the brush broke our line of sight, in the blink of an eye, it was right in front of me again. Its head was above my waist. I could have reached down to pet the lion. It let out this vicious growl that just echoed again across the mountains. You could see its four dominant teeth and a little black at the bottom of each main tooth. It launched with force. It slammed into my chest. The top claws, the front claws were all up on my face and by my neck. You could hear the pop sounds in my neck as the claws went in and just pop, pop, pop and just pulled my neck down. The bottom jaw was just in the top of the forehead here. The top jaw was in the back top part of the head. You could hear the raking twice over my head. I was twenty-four years old. I didn’t want to die at all. I was so scared cause this, this is it. The friends, all of my old party friends, started flashing through my head. My family, the Grandma I cheated from, my mom who I made cry, my brothers and my sister and my dad who I fought with. All these people in my family started flashing through my head. I had nothing. I was done, and I just screamed, “God help me!” As loud as I could, I just screamed to a God I didn’t even spend a minute with. I didn’t know what else to do. I just screamed for help.
Right then a little adrenaline boost came over me. I reached back, and when I reached back, I kind of slid my hand. I felt two bumps. I realized this is the mountain lion’s eyes. As hard as I could, I took my thumb and I shoved it past the eyelid, around the eyeball to the back part, almost like a second eyelid or a muscle back there. As hard as I could, I just shoved it as deep and as hard as I could. All of a sudden the claws popped out of my neck as a loud squeal type chirp, roar almost, echoed from the lion after I hit him in the head. The claws, when they loosened up, the jaws loosened up. I threw my head back up and jumped back up on the trail. I’m running, and I’m throwing white snow up on my head, and it’s falling over here red. There’s red dripping all over the trail and my legs, and right there on the inside of that tree, sure enough, there is that mountain lion staring right at me again. It took two or three more steps, and I just went, “Are you kidding me? No more. No more.” When I turned around, I was waiting to see this lion launched in the air ready to take me out. When I turned around, I didn’t see the mountain lion. What I did see was a transparent face of Jesus. When I saw this face, the overwhelming peace and the calm that rushed through me was so remarkable, so real, and just true that nothing could touch me. Nothing mattered. There was no worry at all, not even the mountain lion that was chasing me, nothing but the peace rushed through me like I got picked up…”I've got you, son. I got you. You want a second chance, you’ve got to start living for me son.”
Running down fifteen minutes, almost three miles, bleeding, you could see my skull. The eight-inch gash in the front was hanging down from running. You could see the skull. It looked like I had a red mask on. My eye was dripping. My forehead was dripping. All of a sudden I heard the flight for life helicopter come flying in. They came rushing into the visitor’s center. They had the big mask helmets on. I.V. in the arm, and they strapped me all up and an eight-minute helicopter ride to a Swedish medical center. I sat there in the emergency room for a while before they finally wheeled me off with tunnel vision. I woke up six hours later with a big bandage on my head in this hot hospital room.
In that hospital, my Dad came out. We had never got along much in high school and college. We were both stubborn, and I thought I had every answer, and I didn’t need any of his help. At the most, maybe every three months we might make a phone call. A quick five minutes, “How’s sports? How’s weather? Adiós.” That was the moment that he said, “Can I share my best friend Jesus with you?” That day in the hospital, I gave my life to Jesus. My dad was actually my best man in my wedding. He will tell you, “My son’s encounter even woke me up a little bit as a Christian and got me closer to Christ.” But it rekindled our relationship where yeah he was my best man at my wedding. My wife gives me a hard time, “Is that your Dad again?” “Yep, talking to my Dad.”