Monday, May 22, 2006
As I was soaping up the pot in which the potatoes were cooked, I found myself again singing. This time it was the classic Joe Cocker song "You Are So Beautiful". If you have ever heard this song, it's what I would call a tear jerker.
I happened to look up and into our living room, and there was my daughter Rebekah. She was sweetly humming an unknown tune, and lovingly putting up toys that she hadn't pulled out. Man, it hit me. What a beautiful child. How blessed am I. God, I don't deserve to be so blessed. I felt an overwhelming need to hug and tell her how much her daddy loves her. So I did. I hugged her tight. I kissed her cheek and said, "Rebekah, Daddy loves you so, so much." Her response I'll never forget: "I'm so glad you're my Daddy." I squeezed tighter. I told her again that I loved her. I didn't want to let go.
Now, not many things bring tears to my eyes, but after that I boo-hooed. I wept almost uncontrollably on and off for about 20 minutes. It touched me so deeply. I wish I had the talent to describe what that felt like, but I have decided that it is absolutely beyond any words.
That wasn't all. Later, I hugged all of my beautiful children tightly as they went off to bed. Then, I went up to the girls' room to tell them goodnight. I kissed Rebekah and told her again that I loved her, and then she put the icing on the cake. She whispered, "You're the best Dad ever. I love you Daddy." How could it possibly get any better than that.
I don't really feel like I am the best Dad ever, but I want to be the best Dad I possibly can be. My children have been entrusted to me by my heavenly Father, and I don't take that lightly. Sure, I've had times when I messed up bigtime. Then again, I've also done some really good things. My prayer is, "Lord, make me the kind of Dad that you have been to me. Help me to have the same unconditional love for my kids that you have for me, one of your kids."
I get a picture of Jesus looking down and saying, "Bill, you are beautiful to me. You are my creation, and I love you. I love you in spite of your failures, your faults, your often wavering faith. I love you, and you are beautiful to me." How could I ever deserve that? I don't, and yet He loves me anyway. I hope and pray that my children ALWAYS know that I will love them no matter what, and they don't have to do anything to deserve it.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
This week, I started again. Monday was not very encouraging. After getting used to runs of up to 20 miles at a time, 3 miles shouldn't be that big of a deal. You'd think. It was less than half a mile into my first run in many days that my knee started barking at me. Barking like a rabid rottweiler. Bummer, 2 weeks off didn't work. What a rotten way to get back into one of my favorite activities. In any case, I finished the 3 miler, somewhat dejected.
Wednesday morning rolls around, and I'm on my way to work. I was listening to one of my heroes, Mark Rutland, on tape. He was talking about how the Lord healed him of some debilitating back problems early in his ministry. Some old ladies found out about his struggle, and they prayed over him intensely. He was healed. The doctors tried to write it off as a mistake, but he was having none of that. It was an awesome sermon, and I didn't really think that much about it for the rest of the day.
That is, until I finally was able to work in my Wednesday run. Normally, I like to run in the morning, but as things worked out, I didn't get the chance until late evening. I figured, surely I can get in 4 miles. Don't want to overdo it.
I hopped on the treadmill, punched in a 10 minute/mile pace, and I was on my way. Amazingly, no pain after half a mile. No pain after 2 miles. Holy moly, no pain after 3 miles! Then it hit me; I think the Lord has healed my knee! Simultaneously, I recalled Dr. Rutland's sermon from earlier that day. Surely not. Surely it's just a fluke. Immediately, my faith was starting to waver. Could I believe, in faith, that the Lord had healed me, even though I was approaching the 4 mile mark with not so much as a twinge of pain? I have to admit, I still had my doubts once the run was complete. But, the Lord was still dealing with me.
I don't run on Thursday, but I noticed that the ever present dull ache in my left knee was no longer there. Weird. My faith was starting to grow.
Friday, my long run day. Still a bit hesitant, I went to the gym, as is my normal routine. Again, on the treadmill I passed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 miles. No problem. You know what the coolest part of that run was? The Lord clearly said to me (not in an audible voice, but I knew it was from God) that I would have no more trouble with my knee. Incredible.
Another really cool thing that came of all this is that my faith has been grown and strengthened. Why in the world would God do that for me? It seems so small, and you may think I'm insane (wouldn't be far from the truth), but I know what the Lord did for me. If that doesn't help keep me humble, I don't know what would. Thank you Jesus.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
One last question: Which is more important, getting our task list completed or living fulfilled and contented lives surrounded by those we love - and those we love knowing that we love them by our actions?
Yeah, life is in a balance, but if I were unbalanced I think I would rather tip on the side of relationships.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
It was a simple day, but I have come to the conclusion that the simple days are the best. The girls played the best games that I have ever seen. Hannah threw a girl out at first from third base. She also moved to circle early in the game and threw out several others at second and first base. Great defense today. Then, on her last at bat, she smacked the ball down the third base line - the hardest hit I've seen from her - and got an in the park homerun. She also was awarded the gameball.
Between games, we went to my Mom and Dad's house and visited for mother's day. I really did enjoy sitting outside and just talking with them. That doesn't happen as much as it should, I decided.
Then Rebekah played an awesome game. It was against the number one team in her league, so she couldn't have picked a better game. She played circle, so she threw out a bunch of girls at first. She caught a pop-up. She ran down a girl going into home and tagged her just before she stepped on the plate, saving a run in a very close game. Then, in the bottom of the last inning in a tie game, she came to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a hard grounder just left of second base to drive in the winning run.
What an awesome day. At times like this I'm reminded how blessed I am. It's easy to get soaked up in the craziness of life and forget, for a time, that I am so blessed. God knows that sometimes I just need a nice reminder.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Last weekend, I ran my first marathon; the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. I wish I could explain the feeling of finally crossing the finish line after many months, and seemingly innumerable hours, of training. It didn't matter to me that my knee completely went out on me at the 11 mile mark. It didn't matter that I finished a whole hour longer than I had planned. At that point, it just mattered that I finished.
My knee trouble didn't appear before that day, so it was quite a mystery when it started tightening up on me around mile 6. By the split where the marathon runners went one way, and the half-marathoners went the other, I could hardly walk. The more I stretched, the worse it got. The conflict inside my mind and heart grew with every painful step. I finally told my buddy, David Hornsby, "You better go on, I don't know that I will be able to finish." Reluctantly, he finally went ahead with best wishes, after he generously spared a couple of his Advils.
Think about it. You plug away, working toward a seemingly unattainable goal. You build yourself up with expectation to the big day when your preparation will finally be tested, only to be sitting less than half way to the finish line deciding how you are going to explain your failure.
That's exactly where I sat. Right there at mile 11, watching the other runners happily jog by toward their long anticipated goal. I told the Lord, "If you have something to teach me in this, I will accept that, but I REALLY do want to finish this race."
Then something clicked. I got up and started hobbling forward, pain with every step, wondering how in the world I was going to make it another 15.2 miles. I sped up slowly. My knee loosened up. I told myself, "If you can make it to 18 miles, you've got this thing." I was flat determined to finish, no matter what it took. At that point, I would have crawled to the finish line if necessary.
Next thing I knew, I crossed the finish line. I hadn't reached it in the exact way I expected, nor in the time I had predicted. Nevertheless, I finished. A little sore, a little beaten, a lot hungry, even more thirsty, and absolutely ecstatic.
Funny thing is, the Lord did use this experience to teach me a lesson. Thankfully, it was a much different lesson than I thought I was going to learn.
There have been times in recent months that I have completely felt like giving up on some things. Just like mile 11, I have gotten precariously close to turning around, finding the medical tent, and hitching a ride off the course. So, who said life would be without pain, or stress, or life's unpredictable difficulties? Only those who live in some alternate reality. Sometimes you just have to push through. You don't know how long the pain is going to last. You have no clue what the journey will look like. You just know that you have to keep going, and trust that it is all for your best. You have to finish strong.
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." (1 Cor. 9:24, NKJV)
I, for one, want to win the prize. There's no way I'll win the prize for the marathon (bum knee and all), but there is an eternal prize to obtain. Should I put in any less training, or have any less determination in the spiritual realm than on the race course? The lesson I learned that day is that giving up is just not an option. I simply can't give up on the Man who has never given up on me.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Today we came together as a church and as a nation to pray. Prayer has been the habit of our forefathers, prayer has birthed many revivals, prayer is the only thing that is going to keep our nation close to our Lord Jesus.
I look at the state of affairs in our great country, and I am saddened. There is a great turning away from the morals, standards, and faith of those who came before. We have forgotten the God of all things who desires to have a close relationship with each of us. We have forsaken the discipline of getting on our knees and crying out “Lord, here I am, I repent of my wrongdoing, please use me.” Instead our cry has become, “Lord, what can you do for me next” if we call on him at all.
Now is the time to fall on our faces and repent for our nation. Repent for the materialism, selfishness, self-centeredness, and moral bankruptcy that the world mocks us for. Now is the time to acknowledge that we can’t do this ourselves. Now is the time to let God have our lives and our great country – The United States of America.
The Lord will honor that kind of prayer; He promised He would in His Word.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Jesus says this quoting the prophet Isaiah:
"God's Spirit is on me;
he's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, 'This is God's year to act!'" (Luke 4:18-19, MSG)
Is there any question that we have a job to do?