Monday, September 29, 2008


My father’s brother, my Uncle Roland, is 12 years younger than my father. When I was a toddler, Uncle Roland was a star athlete in high school Since my parents worked, I was often at my grandparents house when my uncle came home from school, always, to my memory in his varsity sweater. He was my hero, so much so that my grandmother knitted me a matching letterman’s sweater complete with an authentic varsity patch on it. I have a picture of Uncle Roland and me when I was about 3 years old in our matching sweaters. We are easy to tell apart. I am the adorably cute one. I was too young to remember clearly, but I would imagine that I was underfoot at most every opportunity, especially for a teenage boy with other things to do besides entertain a toddler. By the time I was 7 Uncle Roland got married and went into the Navy. I remember the family meeting him when his ship came in from one tour of duty, his last I think. He had been to Japan for some months. Even at that early age I had a strategy to get his attention which would logically be given to his wife, Aunt Helen. I didn’t ware glasses back then but for that occasion I donned a pair of round oriental wire frame glasses. The response was not what I expected, but I did get his attention, which was all I really wanted. Christmas was a special time. Uncle Roland was half way between his 3 siblings and the competing cute grandkids. He was the star of Christmas, entertaining all of us every year. As I grew to be a teen we would often wrestle…like I had even the slightest chance! NO way. I enjoyed being defeated and gleefully called UNCLE (a title he always insisted on in any situation) in absolute surrender to my very superior opponent. It was great to be bested by the best. I remember our last match. By then I was married and was as big as Uncle Roland and a college athlete. I was a youth pastor and taking on all comers, usually several at a time. I had it in my mind that I could best my uncle at wrestling. NO way could I out run him, he was fast. We got into a little match in the surf at Huntington Beach at a family summer outing. I did well but I knew that to truly beat him I would have to hurt him, or he me. I was totally unwilling to do that…but sadly to stubborn to say Uncle one last time. I wish I had said uncle. Looking back, although I was just coming into my mature body, he was at his peak, early thirties, great shape, very athletic. Had he wanted to, he could have turned it up to a notch I did not yet have. He would have won, but he let it go with a draw…of sorts, meaning I would not say Uncle and he would not hurt me to make a point. We never wrestled again. I think our relationship lost something that day. Were I actually as mature as I believed I was, I would have said UNCLE one last time and let him retire the unbeaten and unchallenged champion he was. A title of love and respect he earned over the years of playing with and caring for me. I rarely see him anymore, but to this day he is very special to me, that will never change.

I was reminded of this wrestling as I read Andrew Murray. He reminded me of another wrestling match I cannot win and should not even try to win, yet I do. I live with one regret for a wrestling match that should never have taken place, why live with another? I need to just say UNCLE one last time. Andrew Murray advises:

And now, I desire by God’s grace to give to you this message—that your God in Heaven answers the prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessing on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What is our answer to be?

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