Monday, November 29, 2010

Crushed Dreams

I read this tweeter quote from a pro football player who dropped the game winning pass in the end zone this morning:


It reminded me of a moment in my youth. We were the league champs and playing for the CIF championship in So. California. As usual, I prayed with the team before the game and we beat the other team on every front...except the score! It was really disappointing. Crushing actually. In my defeated state I remember commenting to Dee (yes, we were in love way back then), but I prayed! The next morning the LA paper described the loss with the headline "THE CENTER WAS THE CENTER OF THE PROBLEM FOR THE VICTORVILLE JACKRABBITS". You guessed it, I was the center. The writer...who was not at the game...attributed a high snap for a punt and a down field fumble by the quarterback to be my fault and the reason for our losing the championship. There was NO consolation in viewing the video later that week that showed clearly that I had nothing to do with the fumble or the fact that the punter chose to throw the ball to the tackle instead of kicking it. I was really confused and wondered why God did not protect me and help me. I felt just like that pro....I praise you...I prayed...I DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS FROM YOU!...WE HAD A DEAL! That may be what started a downward spiral for a I didn't go crazy and do stupid things, like I said, I was a good kid...I had to be. I had a sizzling deal with God. If I am really good, then nothing bad is going to happen to me. Ok, I was young and least I'm not young any more, the rest is open to debate and interpretation. That unsettled state of trust lingered through the winter and into spring. When tennis season rolled around I found myself in the #1 position in the league. I frequently practiced against the coach. He could beat me as easily as I could defeat my team mates. All the same, I struggled in league matches. I still won but everyone around me knew something was wrong inside. My Dad quizzed Deanna, my coaches, my buddies and probably people I didn't know about to find the problem. I remember after one away game in Barstow my dad showed up. After we won the match my dad talked to coach Dudley and I ended up driving home alone with my dad. It was pretty much a silent drive. There were a few questions, like was I worried about being drafted and heading to Viet Nam...a big concern in the late 60's where the drafted the youngest first....What was wrong. Honestly, I had know idea. I know something was wrong but had no clue as to what it was, just that something deep inside was on life support at best. Dad got off the freeway one exit early and drove into the driveway of an elderly and godly black couple, Ma and Pa Phelps. He went in alone and after a few minuets came out to the car and invited me in. Not much was said as I was ushered to an old wooden upright kitchen chair in the center of their one room cabin. I had no idea what was happening until Ma and Pa put their hands on my shoulders and began to pray. I don't remember hearing a word they said or how long we were there. When they finished praying we left. Not much was said after that but whatever the cloud was that had chased me through the winter and into the spring left. Today, I know that it was, at heart, a spiritual problem. For reasons I still don't understand, I was at peace and it showed brightest in tennis. I never lost another match and hardly lost a set. It all began when I was confused about the true nature of God. It ended with the prayers of saints who lived in a one room shanty with little material goods and knew then what I know now. God Loves me all the time whether I am good or not. My current circumstances...good or bad at the moment... are not the measure of His love. Jesus is. I live in relationship with him as friend, not a bartering partner. He can be trusted even if I am confused by the circumstances. There is still a lot I do not fully understand but I don't find that black cloud hanging around very long these days either.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ancient tree?

Darin, Dustin, Shane and I wandered the desert this past weekend looking for a desert Mulie. Obviously we didn't find one but I found this juniper fascinating. My cell phone photography does not do it justice but if you click on the picture you will see a depth of character that draws you in. It made me wonder what stories it could tell if it could talk. The elements and man have taken their shots at it but it still stands strong, not defiant, but confident, courageous. At one time it's roots were totally protected, deep in the soil, but time has slowly eaten away at its base, exposing much of the life giving roots to the ravages of the heat and the axe of man. Because the roots went deep, the tree lives, scarred for sure, but beautiful in it's own way. At the time it made me stop and ponder the depth of my own roots. Waht is the earth I am rooted to? Clearly it must be bigger than me. Are my roots deep enough to withstand the storms, hacks and erosion of life? There is a rugged beauty to this tree, something that I want to be true in me also. I must be certain to do all my life what this tree has done to survive...keep getting the roots deeper and stronger. King David's Tree in Psalms 1 was rooted well, planted by streams of living water. I guess that's true for trees of all kinds, isn't it?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Noah's Catch

  1. I was talking to Daniel this evening and he said Brooke was out to dinner with a local pastor's wife and he was going to take the kids fishing off the dock. I asked him to send me a picture.....yes, that's Braxton hooked on Noah's Crappie jig. He had to round up Brooke and head to the ER to get it removed....and a tetnus shot no doubt. I think this is about their 4th trip to the ER. I guess that's one way to meet people. Personally I'd stick with the dinner dates.