In my junior year of college, Aubrey came to the Gulf Coast from Mississippi State for a college internship. He was in every way a young, southern gentleman, a kindhearted fellow with a charisma that shined when he spoke in his slow, southern drawl. On top of it, he was mature beyond his years.
We met at church, and Aubrey immediately became a part of our college group. In fact, not knowing a soul from Texas, we became his local social network. He became a friend.
Even under the best of circumstances, things can go bad. At no fault of Aubrey, it did.
We had regular hayrides for fun, and on Spring Break, Aubrey joined us on one. About 30 of us went that evening and as was our custom, the girls moved to the front of the trailer while the guys moved to the back.
Wrestling, pushing and tossing each other off the back of the moving trailer to the soft, and sometimes, “cow pattied” pasture below always ensued. It was like Ultimate Fighter, except no cage, and no one was trying to hurt anyone, and for the most part, it was rare anyone would get mad.
One of our “traditions” was to pick one guy, then all the other guys would pounce on him, tie him up and leave him alone on the dark trail until the tractor made its half hour circle back around the pasture.
This particular night we decided Aubrey was the sacrificial lamb for two reasons. First, he didn’t know the “tradition”, so he wouldn’t be on guard. Second, Aubrey was such a good guy and he was always a good sport.
When the time came, by chance Aubrey was sitting on the hay trailer in directly front of me, so I grabbed him from behind while the rest of the guys jumped him. Since I was behind him, I had the best grip on Aubrey with both arms around his chest. He struggled at first, but then pretty much gave up and went along with the silliness after someone told him what we were doing.
The guy beside me made the first tie with the thick nylon rope around Aubrey’s left forearm about six inches above his wrist…
He was going to throw the rope over to the guys on the right after he finished tying Aubrey’s arm.
Regrettably, no one noticed the other end of the rope had fallen on the ground. No one saw the trailer running over the loose end of the rope. No one spotted the slack being taken up in the rope.
Each turn of the trailer tire took more slack out of the rope until the was no more. The rope suddenly tightened, catapulting Aubrey from our grip and jerking him to the side of the trailer.
The college minister was driving the tractor. He said later he didn’t know why, but something told him to stop. He hit the brake, and just in the nick of time. Another second, it may have been deadly.
Even so, Aubrey was now hanging over the side of the trailer. His left hand was almost down to the tire with a completely taunt rope around his forearm.
Aubrey was moaning in pain. One of the guys whipped out a dull pocket knife and quickly cut the rope near the tire.
Aubrey still had the tied rope around his wrist though. The sudden jerk on the rope tightened it deep into his forearm. The same guy tried to cut the rope from his forearm, but couldn’t.
In severe pain, Aubrey moaned, “Get it off! Get it off!!” I grabbed the pocket knife, and by flashlight began cutting the rope in a sawing motion.
The little fibers on the rope were popping apart one by one, but to cut it all the way off, I also had to nick Aubrey’s flesh.
The rope was deep in his flesh. It pinched all the muscles in his forearm in two. It had damaged the nerves in his hand and forearm. Even worse, it had cut off the blood supply to his hand, and we were out in the boondocks.
Aubrey’s arm looked like it does when you wrap a rubber band really tight around your finger and leave it on for a few minutes. Your finger turns red and cold and when you take the rubber band off your finger, there’s a deep indentation where the rubber band was.
This wasn’t a rubber band though. The indentation was of a 1/2 inch rope, down to the bone.
When I was finally able to cut the rope in two, it didn’t pop loose. We had to peel the rope away from his arm and flesh. It was ugly.
What happened next will never leave me.
In agony, Aubrey looked down at his wrist, then at all of us. His face was contorted in pain as he looked back down at his wrist, then back up at us.
What Aubrey said, I will never, ever forget, and quite frankly, forever changed my life…
Aubrey said, “I just want you to know, I don’t hold this against you”.
Emergency surgery saved Aubrey’s hand by restoring blood flow. The surgeon was able to sew his forearm muscles back together, but like any surgery, his arm and hand will never be the same.
Even years later now, I cannot forget Aubrey’s reaction!
“I don’t hold this against you.”
I cannot think about Aubrey without thinking about Jesus. Neither Jesus, nor Aubrey, did anything wrong. Both were taken by force, yet did not fight back.
Jesus was falsely accused, and after He endured a flogging that would’ve killed most men, Jesus was nailed to a cross….nailed right through His wrists in about the same place Aubrey was hurt.
In excruciating pain, Jesus gazed at the very ones who put Him up on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
In other words, “I just want you to know, I don’t hold it against you”.
I am a meaningless slug for my part and guilt in hurting Aubrey’s wrist.
Likewise, I am but a worm for my guilt and part in Jesus’ crucifixion.
I should rightly bear the blame for my actions. Yet to hear the forgiving response is forever priceless, for neither Aubrey, nor Jesus, hold it against me, and for that, I will never be the same!!
Picture from Jerusalem, Israel at the empty Garden Tomb where many believe Jesus was buried.