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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unwanted cranial ammunition acquisition

Eight-year-old William Pace was accidentally shot in the head with a 22-caliber
rifle by his brother.  Pace died on Monday - 94 years and six months after being
shot, with the bullet still lodged in his brain.  He was 103 years old at the
time of his passing.

Pace was officially named by the Guinness Book Of World Records in 2006 as
living the longest with "unwanted cranial ammunition acquisition".  Doctors in
his native Texas decided not to retrieve the bullet for fear of causing brain
damage.  According to his son, quoted in an Associated Press report (4/26/12),
he suffered damage to an eye and a facial nerve, but otherwise lived a normal
life.

Three years ago a World War 2 veteran in England woke up with a metal object in
his mouth.  It turned out to be a piece of shrapnel from a battle injury he
sustained 65 years before.  Other pieces of shrapnel had been removed following
the battle, but this piece, lodged in his jaw, went unnoticed.

It's not uncommon for physicians to leave foreign objects in a person's body if
they fear removing them may cause more damage.  President James A. Garfield died
weeks after being shot by an assassin.  The gunshot wound alone may have been
ultimately lethal, but there are many who believe he would have survived had
they simply left the bullet alone.

There was one whose story is even more remarkable than these.  Jesus Christ was
the victim of multiple wounds.  Among those listed by the gospel writers were
deep wounds on the back from scourging; deep puncture wounds in His scalp from
the crown of thorns; more puncture wounds in His hands and feet from the nails
which attached Him to the cross; and a gaping hole in His side from a Roman
spear (John 19:1-2,18,34).

After hearing this record of wounds Jesus suffered within a few hours, a
reasonable person would ask, "How did He survive such injuries?"  He didn't.
Jesus died as a result of those injuries, a fact verified by an expert in
execution, the Roman centurion (Mark 15:43-45).  But three days later Jesus was
again alive!  The one who had died had been raised to life again (Mark 16:6,7).

Following His resurrection, the thorns, nails and spear were no longer found in
His body.  But the scars were there.  One of His followers, Thomas, was
skeptical upon hearing that Jesus was alive.  Those doubts were answered,
though, when Jesus invited him to come near: "Reach your finger here, and look
at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side.  Do not be
unbelieving, but believing" (John 20:27).

Jesus took more than a bullet in the head.  Some, as William Pace demonstrated
for over 94 years, can live even with a bullet lodged in the brain.  Eventually,
though, mortality takes over and death comes by some other means.  But Jesus
conquered death, and in doing so gave us hope of having the same victory one
day.

"But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfuits of those
who have fallen asleep ... even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1
Corinthians 15:20,22).  We can't dodge every bullet, and mortality certainly
can't be stopped.  But we can be found in Christ, and therein lies our hope.

Timothy D. Hall

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