What can I say? I love to run. I've run 4 full marathons and 6 halfs. But I love God more and I'm determined to run this race of life for Him to receive the ultimate prize of Heaven. I'd like to share my thoughts with you. You can agree or disagree. Comment or don't. You can read or not read. But it's here if you want it. Enjoy! .

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Is Coming

What follows is a true story as far as I know. I heard it when I was in high school. It was told to me in a pretty detailed account. I hope I'm getting all the details correct......

Five friends. Five good guys. For the most part. Not perfect, but generally speaking....good Christian boys. Seniors in high school. Saturday night. Hanging out together. Went to a movie. 9PM show. Got out at 11. Maybe 11:30. Plans to spend the night together at one's house and get up and go to church together the next day. Heading home in small 4 door sedan. 2 in the front, 3 in the back. Drove for about a mile. Talking. Laughing. Having fun. Good guys. Then it started....

The driver of the "good guys" noticed flashing lights in his rear-view mirror. He also noticed that the car behind him was tailgating. Too close. "What is this car doing?" he said. They all looked. The car sped to the side of them. Another group of guys. Not such good guys....they would soon find out. The other guys were laughing....swerving....yelling....following. "Who are they?" the good guys wondered. "Maybe they're drunk......just drive.....get away from them." Easier said than done. The good guy driver drove faster. They followed. He ran through a yellow light. They followed. He ran through a red light. They followed. Faster. Too fast. He turned..sharply. They followed. Wait.........2 cars following now! A car AND a truck following. Full of guys. Bad guys. 10 probably. 10 versus 5. Not good odds. What do they want? Faster. THUD! "What was that?" They had thrown something at the good guys' car. Bottle maybe. It hit hard. It was starting to get serious.....not fun anymore. Was it ever? It wasn't a game. One of the good guys in the backseat looked over to see one of the bad guys flashing a knife. Heart beating a little bit faster. Fear. It was getting scary now. "We have to get away from these guys," they said. U-turn. Sharp. They followed. Even faster. The bad guys then tried to sandwich in the good guys' car. One got in front...the other in back. Trying to make them stop. Almost worked, but good guy driver kept going around. Still driving. About 5-6 miles total. Sharp turn on dark residential street. Speed limit 30. Driving 80. Gotta get away. "You have to slow down. We're going to crash" said one of the good guys in the backseat. "Let's just stop and see what they want," said the same. Bad choice, but maybe it seemed like a good one after 15-20 minutes of the dangerous driving. Just had to stop.....avoid crashing. Stopped on a very dark winding road. Pulled over under a dim street light. Bad car and truck pulled up very soon after. 10 guys jumped out. Start kicking good guy car. Good guy driver gets out. Defending his car. Good guy who suggested to stop also gets out. Holds up hands. "We don't want trouble." Too late. 2 good guys begin to get punched, kicked, beaten, battered. 3 good guys still in car. Doors closed. Car begins getting destroyed. Pipes. Bats. Whatever. Windows breaking. Lights breaking. One bad guy on top jumping up and down. Roof caving inside on 3 good guys. Beating 3 guys inside through broken windows with pipes, bats, whatever. Back door opens. One good guy gets punched in nose. Broken. Bleeding. 5-10 minutes of this. Then they left. All 10. They just left. Five good guys in shock. What just happened? Bruised. Bleeding. Robbed. Scared. Confused. Car totaled. They ran to the surrounding houses for help. It's 12:30am. Maybe 1:00. Nobody answering. They see a car coming. They think it's the bad guys coming back so they hide. It's not. It's a park ranger from a nearby state park. They flag him down and he calls the cops. 5 police cars come. Maybe 6. Each good guy gets into a car. They tell their story. Their parents come. They go home. It's over.

It's been almost 20 years. November 6 (and early morning on the 7th) 1993. I remember it like yesterday. You probably figured it out. How else would I know so many details? I stretched the truth a little. I did hear the story told. But I also told it. I was one of the good guys. I was in the front seat. Not the driver. The passenger. I stayed in the car. Scariest moment of my life. Up until last March, also the worst moment of my life. I'll never forget it. I still get that feeling in my stomach when I drive that final road. Otter Creek Road in Brentwood, TN. Close to Radnor Lake State Park. I'm not ashamed to admit that when we were waiting for the police after the park ranger showed up.....I cried. I cried like a baby. It hit me what had just happened. And I was scared. We got counseling at school over the next few weeks, maybe months. During one session I remember her asking "At any point during or after the event, did any of you wonder if you were being punished? Maybe God was trying to tell you something through that event?" We all responded with a resounding "NO". We weren't being punished. We were being protected. It wasn't the negative. It was the positive. My friend did indeed see a knife. It was 10 versus 5. We could've been seriously injured or killed but we escaped with cuts and bruises. God wasn't punishing. He was protecting. While I wasn't ashamed to admit I cried that night, I'm also happy to admit that we prayed that night. While we were waiting for the police, the same friend that saw a knife suggested we pray. We did. We huddled and we prayed. We were good boys. God watched over us. We were safe. It was a happy ending.

Two thousand years ago, there was a happy ending. Friday was tough. He had to die. On a cross. With pain and suffering. There were tears. There was sadness. The world seemed to end. But then Sunday came. And it was a happy ending. He arose. He won. He was alive. He still is. He died and arose so that we never have to die. That's right....we don't die. We just pass from one life to another. A better one. All because he did die. But then He arose. And we celebrate that. Easter can be about bunnies and eggs and candy and baskets. That's fine. My kids love it. And that's great. But for me, it also about what He did. It's about the happy ending. It's about Sunday coming. And we celebrate it today. And every day.

As I've said many times, life is tough. It will be. We're promised that. Bad things will happen. But there's a happy ending waiting for us. It will all be worth it. There's a new life waiting if you'll accept it. And it's gonna be amazing.

I went home that night and stood in my room. I took a deep breath. I looked at the clock. It was 2am. My mom was out of town, but my dad came in and gave me a hug. "I'm glad you're ok, buddy. I love you." "I love you too, dad." It was 2am. It was Sunday morning. Sunday came and everything was ok. The story had a happy ending. My story in 1993. The story of Christ two thousand years ago. Even though there was pain and fear, they both had happy endings. And our lives can too.

It may be Friday here on Earth. But hold on. Sunday is coming.

And what a great day that will be!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Their Eyes Were Opened

First of all....a thanks. We received so many emails, cards, gifts, etc. etc. etc. on Griffin's Heaven Day last Tuesday. We could never give enough thanks for the blessing of so many friends and family. It really did turn out to be a special day and I won't forget it. I have so many blessings and gifts from God in my life and I have no reason to be unhappy. God has been so good and I know He will continue to be. He will never leave me or forsake me. (Deut. 31:6)

He gave me another blessing last week. I got to take my oldest son, Carter to his eye appointment!!! I know what you're thinking.....not quite the blessing you were expecting me to share. How is an eye appointment a blessing? Believe me, I didn't think it would be. Not that I don't enjoy spending time with my son, but taking him to the eye doctor wouldn't be my first choice of activities. And to be honest, when planning this trip, I probably wouldn't have guessed the word "blessing" would play a role because I knew what was coming......it was time for contacts. Yep, we decided that this was as good a time as any to try contacts for Carter. He's worn glasses for 2-3 years now. We knew we wanted him to try contacts eventually, especially because he's pretty active in sports. He's worn sports goggles in football, basketball, and baseball but they're almost more of a hindrance than a help. The problem.....every time we mentioned contacts to him, it was like we were telling him his birthday was cancelled. Needless to say, Carter wasn't very excited about it. The thought of having to touch his eye made him more than a little nervous. We would even practice to try and make it easier. Susan would try to slowly touch his eye. Another unfun family activity. He would cringe and blink at a rate of about 400 times a second. So....needless to say, I was slightly dreading taking the plunge and going to the doctor for contacts. But it was time. Or so we hoped.

We started out as usual. Normal checkups, tests and eye exercises. Checking his prescription. Reading the charts. Blah blah blah. Then the moment came....."Carter, I'm going to put this contact in your eye." I saw the look on Carter's face. It was like he heard, "Carter, I'm going to chop off your arms now." He had been dreading this moment for a long time. At that moment he almost let the tears come, but he took a deep breath and held it together. I was proud of him. So the doctor put one in.....not too bad....went pretty much right in. Then the 2nd one. We looked at him. We waited. Then it happened. My favorite moment. The unexpected blessing I mentioned earlier. I saw another look on his face. I wasn't expecting this look. He could see. It was a look of "wow" met with a smile. For the first time ever, he could see well....near perfect.....without glasses. I've never worn glasses, but I'm told that glasses don't cover everything. Your peripheral vision is still blurry. But not with contacts. They cover your whole eye so everything looks clear. And I got to see that moment.....the first time Carter saw everything. And it really was a special moment. He very quickly fell in love with contacts. We had been right. It was time.

We weren't done yet though. The rule is that you can't leave the office with contacts unless you can put them in and take them out.....TWICE! Say what now? He's got to put these things in himself? And then he has to reach into his eye and take them out? Why don't you just ask us to sprout wings and fly to Neverland? That might be easier. But we agreed to go ahead and try the training session. We were given a specialist who agreed to sit with us for as long as it took.....and I have to say....we got the best. She was wonderful with him. She was so patient and encouraging. And it wasn't without tears. It wasn't without frustration. It wasn't quick. It was 45 minutes. But he did it. After 45 minutes, and numerous tries, he finally was able to get them in and out.....twice. We were going to get to take them home. He was thrilled. So was I. I was again proud and excited for him. But like I said....the best thing was the look.....the look on his face when his eyes were really opened for the first time.

Scripture uses that phrase......"eyes were opened" on several occasions. Here are some of my favorites:

1. In 2 Kings 6 Elisha prays that his servant's eyes will be opened so he can see the army of the Lord behind the Syrian army. The 2nd time the servant goes out, his eyes are opened and he sees God's protection. He knows everything will be ok.

2. In Luke 24, after the resurrection of Christ, he walks on the road with two disciples. They don't know who he is, but after breaking bread with Him, it says their eyes were opened and they knew who He was. They then went and told the other the good news.

3. One of my favorites is the story of Jesus healing the man born blind in John 9. Jesus makes mud, puts it on the man's eyes and tells him to go wash. Then his eyes are opened and he can see. He is overjoyed and it even causes him to believe in Christ and change his life.

I teach this last example every year to my 6th graders and I always stress with them that this man had never seen. I try to get them to imagine never being able to see. Imagine what it'd be like to then, unexpectantly be able to see....for the first time. What a amazing blessing that would be. I know it's not exactly the same, but I got to witness a small version of that blessing with Carter at the eye doctor. It was a great reminder to me that even though I've been blessed with two good eyes, I still need to remember to open my eyes every once in a while. Too often, I tend to focus and only open my eyes to what's wrong.....

What am I worried about? How many things do I have to do today? What do I want that I don't have? Why isn't God answering this prayer? Why am I so busy? Why is life so hard sometimes? When will I get to rest?

I could go on. But instead, I need to take more time to just stop, take a breath, and open my eyes. Not just my physical eyes, but the eyes of my heart too. I need to look for God. When you really take the time to look, it'll be obvious that He's here. His works and blessings are all around. We just have to take the time and effort to open our eyes. He'll show them to us. When I actually remember to do so, it's always a blessing and a reminder of what my life's purpose really is. I encourage you to make time to just stop and open your eyes as well. Let God show you who He is and what He will do and what He has done.

Many of you have seen this, but if you haven't, take a look. This says it better than I can.


Allow God to open your eyes and the eyes of your heart. You'll get that same look on your face......a look of "wow" mixed with a smile.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)