Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Message

The message to Faith and Joshua's teachers was quite simple...
"Please send Faith and Joshua to Y Care after school."
Two hours later Julie arrived at the school for a meeting about 5-10 minutes after school had let out. On her way to the meeting she decided to stop by the gym to say hello to Faith and Joshua.
Julie saw Faith...
But no Joshua.
Faith said Joshua never showed up.
Julie proceeded to the school office to inquire if she had sent the message to Joshua's teacher.
The answer was an affirmative.
The school office used the 1960's style "intercom" system to call Joshua's teacher and asked her if she had sent Joshua to Y Care.
Within seconds Joshua's teacher came running down the hall. She had just seen the message that the "runner" had left on her desk while she had been out in the hall dealing with a disciplinary issue.
Mama Bear Julie started running...
She ran down the hall
She ran through the front door
She ran across the street
She ran down the hill to the park which is the usual rendezvous spot to pick up Faith and Joshua after school...
And there he was...
All by himself...
In the snow covered park...
No other cars in the parking lot...
No other parents picking up their children...
No other children waiting...
Joshua was building a snowman...
Julie ran down the hill and yelled, "Joshua!"
Joshua turned...
Saw his mama...
His reaction was immediate...
He burst into tears...
The reunion was sweet as salty tears ran down their faces...

Why was Joshua in a snow covered park by himself?
The explanation was quite simple... Joshua hadn't gotten the message.

My iWitness...

Has this ever happened to you?
You are doing everything you are supposed to be doing.
You are going where you are supposed to be going.
You are following protocol.
And then all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a snow covered park on a subfreezing day frightened with no one in sight, with no clue why it is that the people who love you the most are nowhere to be found.

The explanation is quite simple...You didn't get the message.

Fear not...

If you listen real carefully, you will hear the footsteps in no time..
It's God...
And He's running...
To you!

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God... (Isaiah 43. 1-3)

Monday, February 10, 2014

30% Chance of Survival

My cell phone rang the other day while I was on the landline phone at work. My heart lit up to see the name of my dear friend Mary (not her real name) that I had not talked to in quite a while. Unable to answer the phone I was looking forward to hearing her message on my voicemail.

The tone of the message was exactly what I had expected... upbeat and fresh with a sparkle in her voice. She simply said that she and her husband would love to talk to me. How nice is that!

I returned the call within 30 minutes. She answered the phone and said, "Oh David. Thank you so much for calling. Hold on a minute and let's get Bob (not his real name) on the other line." Sure enough he came on and said, "Hello David." This whole scene reminded me of talking to my grandparents as a young boy back in the day when everyone would pick up every available phone in the house and talk to "the grandparents" as fast as possible because it cost so much money to call "long distance."

I was excited to hear their voices. Mary and Bob talked to one another for a few seconds while I listened in. The decision had to be made. Who was going to tell me the story? Bob said, "You go ahead Mary. You tell David."

And the story began...
A diagnosis of Diabetes a few months ago...a car trip to a major metropolitan city...Bob turning a shade of yellow...a stop into a hospital... a CAT scan...another diagnosis... Pancreatic Cancer.

Then there was the inevitable pause...
It was my turn to say something, anything...
I started to speak.
My voice faltered...
Tears streamed down my face...
I find it extremely hard to speak when I am crying and my face is all contorted...
But speak I did...
Before long all three of us were crying on the phone.

Bob went on to say, "The good news in all of this, if there can be good news, is that when I went to the specialist he said, 'The good news is that 9 out of 10 people who walk in my office with your diagnosis, I have to tell them there is nothing I can do for you' But for you, I can do something.

The specialist continued, "With the type of treatment we are going to propose there is about a 30% chance of survival."

Bob and Mary let that bit of news sink in.
We talked for another ten minutes or so. I prayed over the phone and we all cried some more.
In saying good-bye, Bob, in his typical manner said, "David, I know this may sound a little strange, but I hope you are going to have a great day."

My iWitness...

I got stuck on the "30% chance of survival" line in our conversation.
My first thought was that if you hit a baseball just 30% of the time you are in the Hall of Fame!
Then again, being the tennis player that I am, I thought, if you only get in 30% of your first serves in a tennis match then you are going home early.

Eventually my mind and heart landed on this...

On this earth, on this roller coaster of a ride called life...
We have a "Zero Percent Chance of Survival."
None of us get out of this alive.
We are all going to die... some sooner than we thought and some later than we thought.

At the same time, my mind and heart landed on this as well...
All of us have a "100% Chance of Living."

Whether we survive for 20 years or 60 years or 100 years, the good news is that we have the chance, the opportunity, the privilege to live and to live recklessly, with abandonment, with joy, with laughter, with tears of pain, with friends, with family, with God...!!!

How many people have I buried that stopped living 20 years before they died. Do you know how sad it is to say at a graveside service, "We bury him today, but he stopped living back in 1994."

To my friends Bob and Mary and to all who will take time to read this blog, please hear me when I shout at the top of my lungs...

LIVE!!! Live the life, ride the roller coaster, jump off the bridge into the water below, climb the mountain, race down the hill, dance the night away, ride the waves, catch the sunrise, blow kisses, hug everyone you know, laugh in spite of yourself, round third base with your legs a kicking, arms a pumping and crack the biggest smile you have ever cracked as you slide head first into home plate having  devoted yourself with reckless abandonment to the One who abandoned himself so that you could live an abundant life.

Would you please do me a favor?
Give me the joy of saying at your graveside service, "We bury him today. However! However ladies and gentlemen he lived until the day he died!"

One of my favorite quotes..."Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but rather by the moments that take our breath away."

Live today in a way that takes your breath away long before the day arrives when there are no more breaths to take.

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

ps - Please pray for Bob and Mary! God knows who they are and so do they...

"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40. 28-31)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fill 'er up

I was enjoying an incredibly long ride along the back highways of northern Florida. XM radio blaring a tune from the 80's, sun shining, sunglasses perched on my long nose, pulse rate around fifty-eight...
My lazy puppy dog eyes drifted toward the dashboard and there it was staring at me, mocking me, yelling at me, "You idiot! Can you not see me shining my bright little icon at you?!"

I was running out of gas!
The radio still blared, the sun was still shining, the sunglasses did not move from their perch but... my pulse rate soared as I panicked thinking, "How long had the 'almost empty' light been on?" And by the way, "Where in the world was I? Where was the nearest town? Would I make it to the next service station? Would I be stranded on the side of the road only to be attacked by swampy alligators?"

The next town, the next service station arrived within minutes and with deep relaxing breaths I eased my rental car next to pump number 5. I hopped out with a little extra skip in my step. I popped open the gas tank, swiped my credit card, chose the 87 octane, squeezed the handle and began filling 'er up.

Within no time the pump made that halting sound alerting me that the tank was full.
I replaced the handle on the pump looked at the "total" and was taken aback at what I saw.
I had only put in $50 worth of gas. The tank was only about three quarters full.
And then it hit me...$50 worth of gas was the maximum amount of fuel this pump was allowed to expend at one time.

I protested under my breath!
I need more than $50 worth of gas to fill 'er up!

My iWitness...

Two competing thoughts struck me regarding "fill 'er up."

There are many days when I am running on empty trying to squeeze out an extra mile or two on spiritual fumes and reserves. The warning light has made itself known that it is time to pull over and get refueled but I love to push the envelope and see just how far I can go before my gas tank is completely empty. Believe me when I say that I have been stranded many times because I didn't heed the warning sign.

Nonetheless, the times I have pulled over to get spiritually refueled, I have looked at God and said, "Fill 'er up!" And within minutes or hours or days I look at the pump only to discover that God has not filled me up. Rather, God has given me just enough gas to make it to the next town, the next service station. Of course this makes me more dependent on God to make more frequent stops than I had planned to be refueled with His grace, mercy and love.

On the flip side, how many times has God been ready to dispense a whole tank load of His grace, mercy and love on us and $50 into the refueling process we say, "That's enough God. I don't need anymore. I've got to go, places to be, people to see."

And off we dart with half a tank while God is left holding the handle saying, "But I have so much more to offer. Why are you so satisfied with so little when I was ready to fill 'er up!"

And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 5. 18-20)