It will be infinite gain to be translated to Heaven.
— Gen. Stonewall Jackson on his deathbed on being told he was momentarily to perish
By David Tulis
A man who was a familiar face at Floyd’s Hardware in Soddy-Daisy was killed when his tractor rolled over and crushed him underneath, sending and translating his soul before the throne of God.
Tom Ables, 70, lost control of his bush-hogging tractor on a hillside in the 8300 block of Middle Valley Road in Chattanooga. He had been hired to clear the hill with his tractor, a piece of equipment of a kind he had used for years as a tractor service businessman.
“It was probably more of a hobby,” Allan Branum, deputy chief of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, said. “I’m sure he might have collected a few dollars for it, but in the long run he probably spent more than he made. He was very accommodating and helped a lot of people.”
Mr. Ables was a regular at Floyd’s and was friends with many of the staff. “Tom always left his cards here. We would always give his name out,” store owner Eddie Nelson told TV3. “He was a laid back kind of person. Real easy to talk with.” I do not know of Mr. Ables’ connections with the Savior nor his personal history, except that he had a dual allegiance — one to his church, another to Daisy Masonic Lodge No. 706 F&AM, of which he was a master.
Press accounts of a man’s death make no effort to account to what happens to a man after his death. The wisping of a man’s soul before the throne of judgment outside of space, outside of time, is invisible to journalism and news reporting.
To journalism, death ends a life; the tractor has crushed a man and his head or arms or legs may be visible under the seat and cowling of an upended tractor, the wheels of which throw their ribs toward the sky. The story continues with a wrecker jerking the tractor aright, and the paramedics stepping forward with their gurney to straighten out and haul away the body. An official is quoted, the word “tragedy” is offered, and the story end.
But in a gospel claim upon Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., and the world, the story does not end.
The bodies of men after death return to dust and rot. “[B]ut their souls, (which neither die nor sleep,) having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them,” says the Westminster confession of faith at chapter 32. “The souls of the righteous, being then made in perfect holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.”
The holy scriptures quote Jesus as making distinctions between wheat and tares, between goats and sheep and between the pious sinner (tax collector on the back row) and the unrepentant one (the Pharisee, boasting of his virtue).
The parables often make a single point, tearing away the fabric postmodernism and friendly paganism of the day pull over our eyes, layer by layer till finally we see but little light. The distinction is basic antithesis. Good vs. bad. Right vs. wrong. Holy vs. unholy. “Besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the scripture acknowledgeth none,” the divines say.
The prospect of death gives us occasion for self-reflection and sorrow for our sins and vices, and its certainty motivates us to cling more to God through Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, and to live lightly within our possessions and upon any confidence we may have in our riches, position, wealth or reputation.
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Sources: “Victim in fatal tractor accident identified, wcrbtv.com TV3, Aug. 25, 2015
Stephanie Santostasi, “Soddy Daisy Man Dies After Tractor Rolls On Top Of Him,” Aug. 25, Chattanooga TV9, 2015 http://www.newschannel9.com/news/top-stories/stories/deadly-tractor-accident-hamilton-county-19778.shtml