Let It Fly

A wonderful feature piece written by Grantland.com and ESPN.com writer, Jordan Conn.

In other words, my story through the lens of another…

LET IT FLY

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Imagine This…

Imagine you are a warrior that sneaks your way into a rival Kingdom. A Kingdom that you despise. Loath. Hate. You are praised by your people for infiltrating the Kingdom, and you are glorified for mocking the rulers of that nation.

While in the realms of the Kingdom, you make it a point to break every rule, resist all authority, and destroy all you can.  You degrade the people, you rob and destroy and disrespect. You murder all who try to stand up to you.  You take great joy in ruining all that you can find within the Kingdom; disgracing the authority and criticizing the nation. The longer you terrorize the nation, the more you are praised by your people.

After years of evading capture, antagonizing the locals and degrading all authority, you are finally caught red-handed. You are seized by authority and brought before the rulers of the land.  You are soaked in the blood of those you have murdered and robed in the garments you stole and the jewels you confiscated. You are guilty, beyond a shadow of a doubt. And the penalty for your crimes is death.

Not a simple and swift death. A gruesome, humiliating, painful, slow death.  A death that kills you before your life is taken–a death that degrades you, pains you, rapes your dignity and spirit in a calculated, excruciating manner. This is your penalty. This is how you will die.

But as you kneel before the rulers of the nation, head hung in shame, awaiting your gruesome verdict, you feel a hand rest on your shoulder. When you look up you see the Prince of the Kingdom has risen from his throne and stands in front of you before the King. Before your fate can be sealed, the Prince takes a stance in your favor.

“Take my life, instead,” you hear the Prince say. “I will die in his place.”

You are stunned. Confused. Speechless. You had never met the Prince before this moment. You had never spoken with him or done anything for him or done anything for his people. Choking back tears and stumbling to catch your breath, you ask a humbled ‘why’?

The Prince simply replies, “Because I love you.”

Though you can see the King’s heart is broken, he nods in approval and your life is spared.

The Prince dies in your place.

A gruesome, humiliating, painful, slow death.  A death that kills him before his life is taken–a death that degrades him, pains him, rapes his dignity and spirit in a calculated, excruciating manner. This is YOUR penalty. Yet this is how HE dies–even though He did nothing wrong. He simply offered to save you.

After the Prince’s death, you stand face-to-face with the King again.  Your clothes are no longer blood-stained. You have been bathed, fed, cared for and groomed. You stand in front of the King–a King who has just watched his own son die in your place–free of all charges. You are found innocent. Acquitted on all counts.

Then, something unique happens. Rather than being escorted from the Kingdom and taken back to your people, you are welcomed to stay. Not simply to stay in the land–you are welcomed into the Royal Family. Your life is not only spared, you are invited into the castle and crowned as royalty.

After everything you did to their Kingdom and their people, they forgive you. They call you one of their own. You sit in the Highest Court.

Humbly, you hang your head in shame and again ask why…

“Because we love you,” the King replies.

“What did I do to deserve this freedom? What did I do to earn it?” you ask.

Nothing.

“…then why?”

“Because we love you.”

*****

Did you enjoy that story?

Does it sound familiar?

That is love.

That is salvation.

THAT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.

*****

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

The Life I Planned

The Life I Planned

by Beth Moore
*******
Has someone seen the life I planned?
It seems it’s been misplaced
I’ve looked in every corner
It’s lost without a trace
I’ve found one I don’t recognize
Things missing that were dear
Promises I’d hope to keep
And dreams I’d dreamed aren’t here
Faces I had planned to see
Hands I planned to hold
Now absent in the pictures
Not the way I told
Has someone seen the life I planned?
Did it get thrown away?
God took my hand from searching
Then I heard him say,
“Child, your ears have never heard
Your eyes have never seen
Eternal plans I have for you
Are more than you could dream.
“You long to walk by sight
But I’m teaching eyes to see.
I know what I am doing
‘Til then, you must believe.”
He’s done so much, I felt ashamed
To know He heard my moans
To think I’d trade in all He’s done
For plans made on my own.
I wept over His faithfulness
And how He’d proved Himself
How He’d gone beyond my dreams
And said to Him myself,
“No, my ears have never heard
My eyes have never seen
Eternal plans you have for me
Are more than I could dream.
“Yes, I long to walk by sight
But You’re teaching eyes to see
You know what You are doing
‘Til then, I must believe.”
I felt His great compassion
Mercy unrestrained
He let me mourn my losses
And showed me to my gains.
I offered Him my future
And released to Him my past
I traded in my dreams
For a plan He said would last.
I get no glimpse ahead
No certainties at all
Except the presence of the One
Who will not let me fall.
Are you also searching
For a life you planned yourself?
Have you looked in every corner?
Have you checked on every shelf?
Child, your ears have never heard
Your eyes have never seen
Eternal plans He has for you
Are more than you could dream.
Perhaps you long to walk by faith
But He’s teaching eyes to see
He knows what He is doing
Child, step out and believe.
*******
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind
has conceived what God has prepared
for those that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
*******
God Is Love.

Fearless Failure

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.” –2 Timothy 1:7

What is your biggest fear?

Think about it…what scares you?

Are you scared of snakes? Spiders? Heights? Are you scared you won’t be able to provide for your family? Job instability? Financial insecurity? Are you scared of the bullies that degrade you? The men that hurt you? The tears you may cry? Are you scared of injury…what about death?

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Everyone is fearful of something. No matter if you are a 300 lb. lineman, a 3rd grade ballerina, a 57-year-old business man–or anyone in between–we all face fear. When I sit back and think about the things that have scared me over the years, I can’t help but notice a pattern. Whether directly or indirectly, all of my personal fears are linked to one topic: failure.I think the majority of our fears are rooted in the same thing–the fear of failure.  The fear that we will let down the people around us, the fear that the people around us will let us down, the fear that we will let down ourselves.  So many things are so very scary…

When I was very young, I was haunted by the fear that I would be kidnapped and hurt. Granted, I grew up in the early 90’s, an era when child abductions hit the media like a firestorm. To make matters worse, my parents went to church with John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey. For those of you who don’t know, the JonBenet Ramsey murder was one of the most publicized unsolved murders of our time. JonBenet was 6 years old. I was 7 years old. When a 7 year-old hears things on the news and sees her parents so emotionally invested in the tragedy, it is hard to wrap your head around the complexity of the situation. So, my mind only went one place–I am next. The “bad guys” are coming for me. Almost nightly I would have nightmares that I would be taken and that nobody would help me or find me—that my parents would fail at protecting me.

Through my young schooling, I was fearful of getting bad grades.  I wanted to be the best that I could possibly be, and I wanted to make my parents as proud as possible.  I have always been a perfectionist, and I have always been competitive.  I was reared under a sister who was brilliant–literally, a borderline genius. (This is a girl who was kicked out of her second grade class for arguing with her teacher that negative numbers did, in fact, mathematically exist and that the teacher was incorrect in teaching the other students that 5 could not be subtracted from 3. Seriously? I was the kid that was kicked out of my second grade class for sniffing glue, getting dizzy, falling backwards out of my chair and hitting my head on the whiteboard. Haha. This is also the girl who would play “the classroom game”  with me when we were little and try desperately to teach me about exponents and exponential factors…I was 6. She couldn’t understand why all I wanted to do was dance to Spice Girls when there were derivatives to learn!) To say the least, we were very different, but growing amidst her brains and my competitive spirit, it fostered a desire in me to be better, to be smarter, to be the best. And, later in life, any time I failed and didn’t do as well as I know I could have on a school assignment—I failed myself. And, in my eyes, I failed my parents.

Fast-forward through a decade or so of fears and failures. To list all the times I’ve failed would take another decade, so I will simplify by saying that I’m a failure. Aren’t we all? And while my fears and failures molded and shaped me, the worst was yet to come. For the sake of saving time and space, I will not rewrite my testimony (you can read back in the “My Story” portion for details) but I will share with you my most epic fails.

In high school, I feared non-conformity. I feared a lack of control, and I feared judgement. I feared food. I fell into an eating disorder that crippled me, consumed me, defined me. In highschool, I failed myself.

In college, my father failed me. My hero, my best friend, my everything. He feared…he failed…and he fled. On January 3rd, he put a gun to his heart and pulled the trigger. In college, my father failed me.

That year, I feared the pain I felt. I tried everything I could to fill it. I drank, I partied, I lost myself. I feared the darkness and I feared the weakness. I failed to hold my own head high. That year, I failed my innocence.

Later on, I feared for my own life. I failed at driving. I wrapped my Jeep around a tree and feared I would never be saved. I choked on blood and hung broken and battered. On that drive, I failed myself.

Between those points and since that time, I’ve failed and failed and failed.

How do you recover from a life defined in failure? How do you emerge from a life constrained by fear?

We will FAIL constantly. Others will constantly fail us. We will fail others, and we will fail ourselves.  The people around us will fail, circumstances will fail, expectations will fail. You will fail at reaching goals, your friend will fail at supporting you when you need it most. Marriages will fail. Job opportunities will fall through and fail. The stock market will fail, the government will fail. Your boyfriend/girlfriend will fail to provide you with the love you need. You will fail at filling your emptiness with drugs and sex. You will fail tests, fail deadlines, fail budgets. We will slip, and we will fail.

BUT GOD NEVER FAILS.

In the days of my youth, God comforted my worries.  He worked through my parents and protected my heart. God Never Failed.

He calmed my worries over grades and school. He blessed me with the desire to persist and to learn. God Never Failed.

As I battled with bulimia, He clung tight to my body. He protected my health, and nourished my soul. God Never Failed.

As I stared at my daddy’s lifeless body, He wept alongside me and lifted me up. God Never Failed.

As I battled depression in a drunken stupor,  I gave pieces of myself away to boys. But God fought for my purity like a relentless warrior, and though I was battered and broken, He held my virginity with poise. God Never Failed.

As I hung upside down and choked on my blood, He appeared to my heart and found His way in. God Never Failed.

I tell you all this to inspire your hearts! Life is hard. So hard. And we’re really bad at it. We are fallible humans and we mess up constantly. We fail and we fear. We fear and we fail. But as it says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Christ DID IT! He came and He lived so perfectly. He never failed. And He never will fail. He died for you. He died so that you can ALWAYS be given new life! So that you can ALWAYS start fresh, clean the slate, and turn a new page.  As he hung on the cross, your fears and your failures were nailed to the cross alongside Him! When we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, we accept a spirit of POWER and LOVE and SELF-DISCIPLINE! We welcome a spirit of forgiveness and grace and second chances!

We serve a God of second chances…we serve a God of LIFE! Alone, we are nothing. We are failures and we are bound by fear. But in CHRIST, we are infinitely strong! We are indestructible! We are SAVED!

What is there to fear?!

At the end of my days, I don’t want people to say that I lived a fearful, timid life. I want them to say that my spirit was POWERFUL in Christ, that I LOVED like Christ, and that I was SELF-DISCIPLINED through Christ.

How will you be remembered…?

*How He Loves*

LOOK WHAT JESUS CHRIST DID FOR YOU…so that YOUR soul could be saved. I wanted to share my favorite version of one of my all-time favorite songs with you. The video attached to the song is an unbelievable recreation of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. SEEING what this man did for us will make your skin crawl..but it is TRUTH. This is what He went through to save our souls. If it is too graphic for you to watch, minimize the video but continue to listen to the song. Let the lyrics move you and the beat slide through your veins…He loves us SO much. No matter our past, no matter our flaws. He is so jealous for you…

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BetW_6vtNU&feature=related

 

“How He Loves”

David Crowder Band

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

Redefining Our Reflection…(part 1)

Step back. Take a look in the mirror. Take a very long look at yourself.

Do you find yourself beautiful?

I don’t mean “beautiful” in the same sense that this world defines beauty. I am not talking about how groomed your hair is, how tan your skin is, how white your teeth are. I’m not talking about whether you are a size 2 or whether or not your clothes are expensive and new.  I’m not talking about your body type or even your smile. I’m talking about true beauty.

I am talking about the only type of beauty that God sees when He looks at us.  I’m talking about the most magnificent beauty–the beauty of our hearts and the beauty of our condition in Christ.  I am talking about the beauty of your soul as a true man or woman of God.  I’m talking about the type of beauty that this world is blind to, because it is not simply visible on the surface.  I’m talking about the type of beauty that people so easily disregard now-a-days. REAL beauty.

Before we can even begin to look at love and relationships, we have to redefine our own reflections in the mirror.  How can we be anything for anyone else, if we aren’t even aware of who we are for our King?  How can we enter into friendships, fellowship, and romantic relationships, if we don’t know our own identities? Too many people get lost that way. Lost and never found. We can’t be defined by any other identity than our identity in God.  Meaning, we aren’t defined by our athletics, we aren’t defined by our careers, we aren’t defined by our husbands or our wives or our children. We aren’t defined by our “roles”. We aren’t defined by our hardships, nor are we defined by our successes. Our identity is defined in Christ.

What, then, does that look like? What does our beauty look like to Him?  What does it look like to be a man or woman in Christ? That answer lies, most clearly, in the gospel.  In understanding our salvation, we can understand our beauty.

We discussed earlier that the way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. Plain and simple.  The belief in Him and the belief in the truth of His life, His death, and His resurrection.  The Bible clearly tells us that when we are truly saved–meaning, when we TRULY accept Jesus Christ into our hearts–then we are emptied of ourselves and filled with the Holy Spirit.  THAT is the true definition of the grace God shows us.  The Bible tells us that the moment we accept Christ into our lives, Christ literally lives inside of us.

Woah…take a moment to let that sink in.  Because that’s incredible.  You may be sitting there, staring at the computer screen, totally confused right now–so let me explain in the most basic of terms.  The book of John does a fantastic job of teaching us about our beauty because it teaches us about the Holy Spirit.

Imagine waking up every single day and not worrying about a single thing.  Not analyzing what you were going to be doing that day. Not living by a schedule or a plan–but simply waking up and following one man.  That is what Jesus’ disciples did for years.  They followed Jesus, with complete trust, through every step of every moment of every day.  Throughout His life, Jesus made it very clear to His disciples that He would die one day.  The disciples were really upset because they didn’t want Him to leave them. They didn’t want to be abandoned.  They placed so much dependency and faith in Him, that they didn’t know what they were going to do without Him. But Jesus was prepared for their reactions, and He made a promise to them (and to all of us).  He told them that, though His body would be gone, He would still be with them.  His spirit would live in them.  He may not PHYSICALLY be there with them any more, but He would never abandon them.  They believed in Him so, therefore, He would always dwell in them. THAT is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is Christ’s spirit inside of us……..wow. (I just did a fist pump thinking about how amazing He is! haha) Therefore, when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, it is not a one-sided deal.  We aren’t just making a sacrifice and giving, giving, giving…it’s an exchange.  In giving control to Him, He fills us with His spirit!

Can you even imagine? Can you even wrap your head around that? Incredible! When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are completely filled by the Holy Spirit. We are drowned in Him.  Once we have accepted Christ into our lives, we are emptied of ourselves.  When God looks at you, He does not see YOU anymore. He sees Jesus Christ. He sees His son. What an unbelievably humbling concept. Can you believe you even have the honor of hosting such a spirit? But that is what He tells us.  That we are no longer ourselves. Rather, we carry Christ in us. Ah! No wonder it always feels so amazing! 🙂

To tie all of this back toward the beginning, ask yourself again what God sees when He looks at you.  Ask yourself again how beautiful you are. If you believe in Him, the answer is simple…He sees His Son! He sees the beauty of Jesus Christ! And THAT is the truest, most overwhelming, most humbling beauty that exists. You are SO beautiful. You are SO BEAUTIFUL. You have to believe that fact.  If He is living in you, you are SO unbelievably beautiful.  No matter your past, no matter your flaws, no matter your sins, you are beautiful in His eyes.

Now how does that beauty define us?…

(to be continued)

“His Mosaic”

I fancy myself a mosaic,

a mosaic constructed by God.

Intricately made, passionately displayed,

beautifully humble, yet odd.

 

For I once was I clean sheet of glass,

free from blemish or flaw.

I was polished and buffed, fragile but tough,

pure and simple, yet raw.

 

What you must understand, is a clean pane of glass

reflects light with splendor and awe.

But it lacks dimension, lacks retention

and only shines on an area, small.

 

But God took notice of my flawless pane

and saw potential for greatness and use.

He knew it would sting, He knew I would scream,

but He knew I could withstand abuse.

 

So He sat down, alone, on His sturdy workbench

and slid my heart into a darkened sack.

Though it hurt Him to do, He knew what was True,

so He swung a hammer and felt me crack.

 

The first blow of the hammer, I lost control

and was broken by an evil disease.

It consumed my thoughts, consumed my body,

but His hand still held me with ease.

 

The next blow of the hammer, my father was gone

and the pain split through to my core.

My breaks turned to shatters, my heart was left tattered,

but He knew I could withstand more.

 

The final swing of the hammer and everything stopped,

I stared death in its formidable eyes.

My body was broken, the pain left a token,

but my spirit was ever alive.

 

The King then sat back, with the sack in His hand,

filled with my broken self.

He then gently restored me, gently He poured me

onto a magnificent, heavenly shelf.

 

With much care and patience, God pulled on His gloves

and began to sift through my remains.

He took His sweet time with a vision, divine,

and pulled pieces of virtue and pain.

 

One-by-one He gently placed the fractures He pulled

into an empty and pure frame.

While I struggled and grew, a battle ensued,

and He humbly took all the blame.

 

But He never stopped working, rebuilding my heart,

He toiled throughout many years.

He so often showed grace, loved me through my disgrace,

and in time, He banished my fears.

 

An artist of power and an artist of Truth,

He carefully re-sculpted my heart.

With much concentration and much designation,

the beauty shone through from the start.

 

When His work was complete, He welcomed me back

and led my soul to His humble workbench.

With the pride of a Father in love with His daughter,

He held tight to my hands as they clenched.

 

He pulled back the canvas that shielded His art

and revealed to me His masterpiece.

I was blinded by beauty, in awe of it truly,

and humbly, I fell to His feet.

 

You see His light that shined, through my restructured heart,

shone with glory and refracted abound.

It danced to the ceiling, sparkled with feeling,

and touched all that rested around.

 

Before my adversity, before all the trials,

I was a pane of unweathered glass.

His light could shine through me, but though there was beauty,

it had no opportunity to refract.

 

In breaking me down and building me up,

He had very clever intent.

For now when His light shone with delight,

it was scattered, refracted, and bent.

 

It could reach every corner and touch every heart

that came within its new bounds.

I could now shine His light, with power and might,

to all who yearned to be found.

 

I was humbled in thought that He cared for my heart

with such personal, attentive grace.

It was then that I learned, it was simply my turn,

and that others filled infinite space.

 

You see He works on us all, every single heart,

for we are all His children anew.

He loves us so deeply, and spends time with us neatly,

rebuilding even YOU.

 

I fancy our hearts as mosaics,

mosaics constructed by God.

Intricately made, passionately displayed

Beautifully humble, yet odd.

“Back to the Basics” (part 2 of 3)

I want to keep the explanation of these three pillars as simple as possible.  There are countless scriptures and historical principles I could throw at you, but the belief of those scriptures touches on the third point, and that is something we have yet to cover, so I will write with simplicity and generalization for this segment.

The second pillar of our foundations is, easily, the most important.  It is the pillar that leads to our salvation and a principle that we MUST believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if we choose to call ourselves Christians.  We discussed that pillar #1 is the recognition that Jesus Christ was a real human being. We also discussed that He was exceptional, different, and lived for a purpose. How was He capable of living so perfectly? How was He capable of performing miracles and walking with such guidance? That is explained in pillar #2…we MUST believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God. The Son of God who died and rose again for US.

Now, this principle seems basic, but there is an incredible amount of information encompassed in that understanding.  It’s not enough to say, Okay, yes, I believe He was the son of God...and check that off the list. There is much to be understood if you recognize that truth. I will try to summarize:

First and foremost, this encompasses the belief that there is a God. A God so fantastic, it is impossible to explain His magnitude. A Creator of the heavens and the earth.  The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End.  A God that cannot be described in earthly terms, because the human mind is incapable of understanding “Him”. (We only refer to God as “He” and “Him” because that is a simple way of wrapping the human mind around the concept.) God is not human, and is not one thing. God is an entity.

Secondly, this pillar encompasses the belief that, in order for God to “prove” to us, essentially, that He exists, He sent a portion of Himself in the form of a human being–Jesus Christ. A Son. This man of earthly flesh and blood was sent to teach. Sent to spread the Truth. Sent to show grace and mercy and forgiveness. Sent to tell all who would listen that God existed. He was sent to lead by example and to inspire. He was sent to share the Word of God. Sent to enlighten generations, for the remainder of time, that God was True and real and good. And He did so magnificently. He proved himself time and time again. He was also sent to die…which leads us to the next point.

The third belief that this pillar encompasses is that this man died for us. Throughout His life on earth, He made clear that He would eventually be crucified. He would eventually be killed. But He promised, to all who believed and to all who still refused to believe, that He would come back to life.  As the ultimate “proof” to everyone that He was, in fact, the son of God. Jesus Christ promised all that He would rise. And in His death, and His rebirth, we would be forever forgiven of our sins and capable of receiving salvation.  All we had to do was believe in Him. Let me emphasize the most incredible point here…in order for us to FOREVER be forgiven and to be SAVED and spend eternity in heaven, He asks us to BELIEVE in Him and to believe in God. To pursue Him and to live for Him. This man DIED for us, in the most brutal and shameful way possible, so that WE could be saved. In order for even the men who were murdering Him to be saved. I tremble at the thought. What an incredible King.

That leads us to the real zinger! 🙂 The best and most beautiful belief that this pillar encompasses…..HE DID IT! He was murdered. Crucified on the cross. And this man, this earthly man, “STUCK IT TO THE MAN!” haha. He rose! He came back to life, just as He said He would!! There are countless historical proofs of this. Countless documentations of this Truth. The man ROSE! The Son of God rose! He proved it to everyone! Incredible. In Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, it made all that He taught, and all that He shared in His life, completely valid. What is there to argue here? Jesus did it!

So we have now touched on the first and second pillars of our foundation as Christians. #1. The recognition that Jesus Christ was a real man. #2. The recognition that Jesus Christ was the son of God and that He died and rose again. As I said before, all three elements of our foundation are interconnected, so that leads us to pillar #3…the proof. Everybody seems to want the proof.  Now a days, to simply have faith that something happened seems like an impossibility to people. Everyone wants MORE proof. Fortunately, God planned on that. And He left us the greatest proof of all…

(to be continued)

My Story (part 13)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Inspired by a new strength, I sat up in a bewildered state.  My head was burning and my body was throbbing, but I felt nothing other than the will to move. To get out. To tell anyone with ears of the grace I had felt.

The next thing I remember, I heard a hesitant voice stab the silence. My ears seemed to perk up like a curious dog’s and I dragged my body towards the edge of my car.  I saw a light bouncing off of the shattered glass beneath me and heard the voice coming closer. I then saw a man’s gentle face pressed towards the ground, peering into my car.  He had a look of such worry, a look of such concern. A look that I can only describe as the look of a man preparing to see death.

My memory from then comes only in flashes–like photo frames reeling through my mind. The sight of his face. The sound of my voice straining to whisper words to him. The sight and feel of my hand reaching through the shattered window and touching the cold, wet grass. The sound of his voice. And then numbing darkness…

My mom spoke to that man on the phone, a few days after the crash.  Apparently, he had been driving with his wife and seen my lights in the distance. Out of curiosity, he stopped to check out the scene. That is when he discovered my vehicle and found me. Of all the people who could have possibly come across me on that night, this man was a retired paramedic and a member of the Navy (if that is not God showing off His grace, I don’t know what is!) In fear, the man had approached the vehicle with a flashlight, looked inside, and found me looking back towards him.  He told my mom that he expected to find a dead, mangled body. He told her that he tried asking me questions, tried directing me on how to escape, and tried checking to see if I was coherent. Then he told her that all I kept repeating were 3 simple words–God is beautiful. God is beautiful. God is beautiful. He said that I was smiling, proclaiming the beauty that I’d seen.

When I awoke, I was strapped in a bed. I remember looking over and seeing a paramedic..a very cute paramedic. In true Mo Isom fashion, I milked the situation and stretched out my arm, beckoning for him to hold my hand. He squeezed my hand and told me that he was just waiting to see me wake up.  Determined to make the most of the soap-opera moment, I believe I said something along the lines of, “I’ll never let go, Jack.” Realizing I was fine (and also a smartass), he dropped my hand, smiled, and left the room. That portion of the story is completely irrelevant, but I had to throw it in there for a good laugh. 🙂

My stay in the hospital was a blur. Ominous machines, tedious scans, countless x-rays. Needles, blood, IVs. Pain, fatigue, restlessness. My mom and sister’s arrival. My mom and sister revealing that they had snuck my dogs in inside of their jackets to brighten my spirits. My dogs peeing on things and barking. My dogs jumping on my fractured ribs and unhooking my IV. My mom and sister being asked to leave the hospital and remove the dogs. My mom and sister sneaking back in. It was a time of physical pain, but a time of overwhelming joy. Emotional joy and spiritual joy. Though my body was mangled and broken, my heart had been made anew.

In the wreck, I had broken my neck–fractured a vertebrae at the top of my spine. I had fractured the ribs down the left side of my body and sustained severe contusions to my lungs and liver.  I had damaged my face, my eye and my jaw. Most severely, I had contusions to my brain.  I was severely concussed and had bruising on my brain, but I was alive. And I was Saved. I was renewed in the Holy Spirit and I was unshakably, unmistakably a servant to my King!…

(to be continued)

<left: recovering in the hospital and, naturally, giving the vulcan salute 🙂 >

<below: my Jeep Liberty in the salvage lot after being turned right-side-up and towed from the crash site >

My Story (part 10)

“A righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” Psalms 34:19

No wound heals quickly. No gash is mended by freshly born skin as swiftly as we all would like.  Every scrape, cut, and burn scabs.  And many times, we find ourselves frustrated when, in our anxious movement after the pain has subsided, we tear those scabs wide open again. In our haste, we are again exposed to the slicing pain we first felt. But given time, and care and patience, those wounds scab again and eventually scar.  Allowing us to be sewn like new, but always leaving behind a mark of our misfortune.  A reminder of the pain we endured. A reminder of the lessons we learned.

Taking a stand against the spiritual warfare that was ripping me apart, I found myself scabbed.  I was tender and uncomfortable and often very vulnerable, but I was beginning to heal.  In the time that I was regaining strength, I was often too anxious. Often naive. I often mistook minor progress for complete redemption and, in turn, fell back into temptation and tore open those scabs, yet again. Re-exposing myself to the pain that had overwhelmed me before. Re-exposing myself to the fear. I was slowly rebuilding my strength, but Satan was not going to let me go without a fight…

If there is one thing I have learned through my athletics and my adversities, it is that this society tells us that everything must be immediate–everything must be done at speed. Fast communication. Fast food. Fast schedules. Fast progress. Fast relationships. Speed, speed, speed. What our world takes for granted is that things of true value, things of importance, take time. There are no shortcuts or quick-fixes. No miracle drugs or instant solutions.  Things of purpose are developed and strengthened gradually. (But again, that is another topic for another blog post for another day.)

As I was slowly gaining strength, Satan was quickly gaining fury.  As I began to deny him, he began to grow angry. I was not walking, yet, arm-in-arm again with my King, but I was trying to crawl from my captor. Trying to steal away in the night when Satan wouldn’t notice or see me leave. But he is keen, he is sharp–he is resentful. And he did notice. He was going to try anything to keep me captive. Anything to handicap my progress. Anything to keep me in his sinful snare.

I find it funny, at times, to sit back and look at the works of our God. To sit back and watch, how desperately, Satan tries to wage an un-winnable war. To sit back and watch the grace that God shows to those who seek Him. It’s amusing, truly. Amusing to watch the futile attempts the Devil makes. Painful, but amusing.

It was November 24th that Satan made his boldest effort to stop my progress, once and for all. Nearing the one-year anniversary of my Dad’s death, I was making headway. I was beginning to heal and beginning to seek my King’s face once again.  God was forgiving. Overjoyed. Like a mother welcoming home her son from the war, my God was genuinely delighted–welcoming me back with open arms.

It had been a long day in Baton Rouge. The semester was winding down and preparations for our finals exams were underway.  The soccer season had just come to a close and it was time to take a brief break for Thanksgiving. A break I so desperately needed. An opportunity to see my beautiful mom. An opportunity to wrap my arms around my loving sister. Two women that had worked so hard and so relentlessly throughout the year to pick up the pieces of my dad’s mess. To reorganize our lives and save our family from destruction. (I could write a book about the bravery and work ethic of my mom and my sister in the months following my dad’s disappearance, but that book would be colossal in size, and it is a story still being written…)

My day had been filled with distraction after distraction…task after task that arose and further hampered by departure home.  I was going to drive back to Georgia. An 8 hour drive. A drive I had made so many times before. And I was anxious. Eager…eager to leave that day. Eager to leave that moment.

By the time I finally finished everything I had to do and hit the road, it was nearing 5 p.m. When I pulled onto the interstate, one thing became very apparent–I was not the only one eager to head home that day. In fact, the entire population of Baton Rouge seemed to have their cars parked on the freeway.

After two hours, I had moved roughly 2 miles.  The traffic finally broke free and cars poured from the deadlock like salmon excitedly swimming up-stream. So I drove. And drove. And drove. I watched the hours click by on my car stereo clock and I felt fatigue setting in. Finally, I stopped for gas and saw a sign that indicated I was 100 miles from Atlanta. So close! Finally. I was rejuvenated in spirit and ramped back onto the interstate for the final leg of my journey. Little did I know, Satan had other plans. It was about to become a VERY long night…

(to be continued)