Thursday, August 28, 2014
Last Friday was deemed "Camp Daddy-O" as it was the last weekday of summer as school began on Monday for my fourth grader Faith and third grader Joshua.
In The Woodlands, Texas there are 14 (count em...14) neighborhood pools. Only 12 of them are open on Fridays. The "Camp Daddy-O" challenge for the day was can we (Daddy, Faith and Joshua) hit all twelve pools in one day.
Pool number 1 was entered at 12:00 pm. Pool number 12 was entered at 7:15 pm. It was an amazing day! On the way to pool number 11 we drove by a locally owned and operated Lemonade Stand. The four employees ranged in age from 4 to 12. The owner was a mom who had promised the kids all summer that they could do a Lemonade Stand before the summer was over. Sure enough, Mom held true to her word. On the last day of summer the Lemonade Stand on Alden Bridge Drive was open for business!
The cardboard homemade sign proudly proclaimed "Lemonade 25 cents!"
I drove up to the stop sign...rolled down the passenger window and yelled, "I want some lemonade."
A boy of about 12 years of age with bright brown eyes bounded over to the car.
I said, "I would like two cups of lemonade please."
He smiled at me as I leaned over and handed him a 20 dollar bill.
His bright brown eyes lit up brighter than the spotless blue sky when I followed that gesture with,
"No change please..."
"No change?", he muttered.
My smile increased tenfold, "No change needed."
The boy hesitantly said, "Thank you" and then ran off to the lemonade stand where his mom was busy manning the cash box. He gestured wildly with his arms. His mom looked up at him and her jaw dropped and then she leaned slightly to her left and shouted, "No, we can give you change."
My smile disappeared as I shook my head and mouthed the word, "NO" right back at her.
Her smile disappeared as well, "No, seriously, we can give you change."
I simply kept shaking my head while mouthing the words, "NO" over and over.
Next thing I knew a little girl about four years old in a pink lacy dress walked slowly over with one cup of lemonade in her hand. She extended her little innocent arms as far as she could and I extended my tennis tanned arms as far as I could and we barely met at the threshold of the window. I exclaimed, "Thank you!" She shyly smiled and made a quick turn as her flowing curly blonde hair tried desperately to keep up with her spinning head.
The brown eyed boy returned with the second cup and handed it off to Joshua. He was quickly followed by his mom. She came right up to the passenger window, stuck her whole head into the car, extended her right hand and said, "Thank you so much! The kids have been wanting to do a lemonade all summer and finally on the last day of summer before school started we decided to do it."
My face gleamed from ear to ear as I held her hand and offered these words, "I vowed a long time ago, whenever I would see children working a lemonade stand I would stop and give them the largest bill in my wallet. I love blowing their minds away."
Our hands parted ways. She gripped the side of the car with her hands, smiled a big Texas size smile and said once again, "Thank you... thank you so much. This will be something the kids will remember forever." With lemonade in my hand, I flashed a 25 cent lemonade smile right back at her and gently let my foot off the brake and drove away.
In the backseat, Joshua was incredulous at the scene that had just unfolded before his very eyes. "Dad! Did you see that boy's face when you handed him the 20 dollar bill? His face was brighter than the sun!"
I laughed out loud and asked my little mathematician, "Do you know how much I overpaid them for the lemonade?" Joshua's little face wrinkled up a bit as his mind was doing some major calculating. "Nineteen dollars and fifty cents", he proudly proclaimed.
"That's right!", I affirmed.
My next question threw him for a loop.
"Do you know how many times over I paid for the lemonade?"
He paused and then finally said, "No, how many times over dad?"
The answer was easy, "40!"
For whatever reason, the number 40 is a special number in the Bible. If anyone ever asks you a question that has to deal with a number from the Bible just say, "3, 7, 12, or 40." You are bound to be right with one of those answers.
The number 40 is mentioned 146 times in the Bible.
Noah and his family experienced rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
All of Moses major changes in life happened in 40 year intervals - At 40 he went into exile after killing a man. At 80 God called him from the burning bush to set His people free. At 120 God called him home.
Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mt. Sinai
Moses led the people through the desert for 40 years.
Psalm 40 was made into a song by U2.
Jonah spent 40 days and 40 nights telling Ninevah of their imminent destruction.
The first three kings of Israel, Saul, David, Solomon each reigned for 40 years.
Jesus fasted and was tempted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.
After Jesus' resurrection he walked this earth for 40 days and 40 nights.
All that to say, the number 40 is special!
Now to my point! (You were wondering if there was every going to be a point!!)
How many times do we put out a sign humbling asking God to buy two cups of grace for 50 cents to forgive us?
Then again, how many times does God graciously approach us and say to us,
"That's all you want?
That's all you need?
50 cents of grace?
How bout I offer to you 40 times that much?",
as He hands us a twenty dollar bill of grace to cover a multitude of cups...
How many of us bound off into the day ahead with our hearts full and our minds blown from the fact that we look at Him and say, "I can provide change", when in our hearts we know we can't.
How much fun God must have as He looks at us and then He looks to His right at Jesus and then back to us with a smile gleaming from ear to ear whispering in our unbelieving ears:
"No change needed!"
And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often and Fear not!
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4. 16)
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Robin Williams committed suicide this past week and the reaction was one of great shock and disbelief that the man who made us laugh till we cried fell victim to the dark, dark, dark side of depression. For the first time, Robin Williams made us cry with no laughter in sight...
My earliest remembrance of understanding the meaning of suicide was when I was 8 years old.
Nine years later I would come into my first real contact with suicide.
My first "paycheck paying" job was at Carl's Jr. restaurant in The City Shopping Center in Orange County, California. I loved working "fast food" and thoroughly enjoyed the comrarderie of my workmates. There always seemed to be a group of us who would head out to the beach after our shift ended or take in a movie up in Los Angeles. The Carl's Jr. Christmas party was the first party I ever attended where alcohol was served.
At 11:00 pm one night in November one of my workmates called me and woke me up from a nice deep slumber. I had my own personal phone line in my bedroom. Even in my groggy state I could tell my friend was a little upset about something. And when he said this next line my senses went into immediate overdrive, "David, I am going to tell you something and then I am going to do something and then you will never see me again."
I remember becoming very panicky with my heart beating more rapidly with each passing minute.
"Hold on just a minute! Whatever it is, we can talk it through, we can work it out. Hold on here just a minute."
His words became more garbled as his tears and crying voice intensified, but the message was crystal clear, "David, I am going to tell you something and then I am going to do something and then you will never see me again."
As my pleadings and his insistence came to a fever pitch, he told me something...
"David, I'm gay..."
And then he hung up the phone...and within seconds all I heard was the monotone dial tone...
Since that day I have come across far too many cases of suicide...
One of my best friends in college called to say that his lovable, adorable, fun loving dad had taken his own life...
As a pastor in Augusta, Georgia one of my friend's father called to tell her that he was going to commit suicide. She pleaded with him to wait until she made the four hour drive. He said he would wait. Fifteen minutes before she arrived he shot himself. When she opened the front door there he was in his recliner, shotgun on the floor with his dog sitting on his lap wimpering.
Just a few years ago I went through a one year stretch where I knew or was acquainted with 13 people who committed suicide. One of them was my youth group leader who mentored me in my high school years to become a more devoted follower of Jesus.
Suicide equals a lot of heartache, a lot of pain, a lot of questions and a lot of tears...
I used to think suicide was the most selfish choice a person could make. I used to think that if you committed suicide you were going straight to hell. I don't think those things anymore...
Here's what I do think...
Depression is one of our most haunting and debilitating diseases. It grabs us by the throat and takes us down the deepest, darkest, dankest path anyone has ever traveled all the while telling us over and over, there is no way out, there is no tomorrow, there is no getting better, everything will only get worse...
And this chorus rains down on our heart and mind so fast and so much that it floods us with one thought and one thought only, "The only way out is to take myself out..."
And some people do...
Some people don't, but some people do...
And I do believe that those who do, in their minds, this is the most logical, rational, courageous choice to make.
And I do believe that in that moment where those who committ suicide move from life to death, Jesus is right there with His tender arms tightly wrapped around them weeping with them and for them...
May God continue to have mercy on us all...
There, but for the grace of God, go I....
And that's my iWitness...
Laugh often (not so much today!) and Fear not!
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8. 12)
May the light of Jesus shine bright in all of our lives...
I callled my friend from Carl's Jr.'s uncle about the whereabouts of my friend that night. His uncle said that my friend had just left the house. I told my mom and dad what had happened and they said that I was as white as a ghost. I felt completely helpless and mad at myself that I couldn't "talk" my friend out of this most drastic step...
The next day I called Carl's Jr. asking if my friend had shown up for work. They said, "No he hasn't. He was scheduled to work today but didn't show up."
During the lunch hour at school I shelled out a few more quarters in the pay phone by the gym, calling around looking for my friend. He was nowhere to be found...
At 4:30 in the afternoon my phone in my bedroom rang and I picked it up and heard my friend's familiar voice..."David, can we talk?" And talk we did....