Mama! Get the Diesel Fuel! I’ve Cut my Leg Plum Off This Time!

Diesel fuel served as the number one multifunctional fluid on the farm on which we were reared. Its primary purpose was tractor fuel.  Daddy kept a 300-gallon bulk tank filled with the smelly liquid year-round. At least one of the diesel farm tractors was used every day, so the abundant supply was necessary.

But that was only one of the many purpose for which we used diesel. It aided in the starting of warm fires on cold mornings. A mixture of insecticide and diesel saturated the fly-control backrub applicators that hung around the farm. Diesel was the first choice as a topical medicinal dressing to be applied to open wounds or sore feet on the cattle.  It’s cousin, coal oil, served as a remedy for bovine bloat.

And diesel fuel’s medicinal use didn’t stop at the barn.  This was the number one topical dressing applied to any of our cuts or injuries.  The oily, sulfuric substance helped wounds remain supple; it took the soreness out of even the nastiest cut.

One summer day when I was about 5 years old, I mashed off the tip of my right index finger between a bicycle chain and the bike’s back-wheel drive sprocket.  The first aid practiced on that day consisted of my eating a popsicle while soaking the gushing wound in a can of diesel.  The injured member was then wrapped with clean gauze, and the fresh popsicle sticks were used as splints.  For the rest of the afternoon, I held the finger about shoulder height, and ate several more popsicles.

From that day on, any time I injured myself, I headed straight to the diesel tank.

When I fell off a walk board onto a roll of barbed wire, I bathed my hand in diesel.  When I cut a big gash on my foot while playing in a sinkhole full of broken bottles, I soaked the foot in diesel. When mamma had to screw a grooved roofing nail out of my foot with pliers, my foot spent a little extra time in the diesel can.

I could tell of many more incidents, but suffice it to say, I knew where the fuel tank, the can, and the most comfortable seat near the fuel supply was located.

When I left the farm, the injury accidents became less numerous.  Since a ready supply of diesel was not available, when they did occur, I began using over the counter topical antiseptic ointments instead.  The memory of the warm, soothing sensation of soaking an injured member in the pungent home remedy soon faded away.

The longer I was away from the farm, and the more I became integrated into a segment of society which trusted modern medicine above home remedies, the more I became leery and afraid of practicing that which had healed the hurt so many times. Even today, after having moved back to the farm, with the fuel supply so near, I still question the wisdom of treating an injury in that fashion.  Although I can give myself many personal experiential testimonies about diesel fuel’s safe effectiveness in easing the immediate pain and preventing any future soreness, I can’t help but argue that maybe it wasn’t as safe or effective as I believed.

That which I trusted to heal my most serious injuries has almost become a superstition to me.  Why?  The length of time since I last practiced it.  The doubts of my past and present influential peers. The acceptance of the notion that “scientifically proven” medicine must be better than an “old wives’ tale” home remedy.

Spiritually, many in this world have experienced these same types of circumstances.  Their families reared them in a Bible-based faith. On several occasions, they personally used that faith to pull them through the storms of adolescence.  But then they moved away from the ready supply of support and encouragement.  They integrated themselves into a segment of society which questioned the wisdom of believing such old-fashioned methods of dealing with life’s difficulties.  And soon, the precious memories began to fade.  Until one day, even when they return to their faithful hometown support group, they just can’t bring themselves to trust the faith that once provided them with strength, comfort, and assurance.

That which they once trusted to heal their most serious spiritual injuries has become nothing more than a superstition.

“14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17) ESV

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