Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Dark Night In 1969

Psalm 139:16
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me when as yet there were none of them.

Every time I drive by the football stadium, my mind goes back to the night of my high school graduation.
I had gone out with my family to celebrate.
My aunts had driven down from Chattanooga to be a part of our get together, and what a get together it was. Food, laughter and graduation presents.
As we finished and headed out to our cars, I told my parents that I was just going to drive around and do some pondering. I don't think my dad understood, but my mother sure did. She hugged me and told me how proud she was of me. I got into my car and drove off into the night.

After a while, I found myself back at the football stadium. I went inside and made my way over to the "rock" bleachers. So many memories from my 3 years at the high school.Good times and a few not so good, but the over whelming thought on this night was "What now?" It seemed as though all of my classmates knew what they wanted to do with their life. I didn't. I was clueless. The stadium, on that night, seemed to echo the doubt and uncertainty that filled my mind and my life.
O.k....but what do courses do I take? I still don't know what it is I want to do.
I think that night was the loneliest night I have ever spent in my life. But God was there. I didn't fully comprehend it as I sat there in that stadium, but He was there. He knew my future. He knew what lay ahead. And He knew how I fit into His plans. Wished He'd give me a heads up that night. I think maybe He did, I just didn't see it or catch it that night.

That was in 1969.
That fall, I would start taking classes at the Junior College. Jim Bentley and I would continue our friendship,a s we hooked up with Campus Crusade For Christ.
God knew that in 7 months, through my time at Campus Crusade, I would meet the girl I was to fall in love with and marry. I sure didn't see that one coming.
32 months after that, we'd be married.
18 months later, we'd have our first child, a boy. His name would be Michael Chad. This child would grow up to not only graduate from high school, but earn his Bachelor and Master's degree.
27 months after our first child, our second son was born, Joshua Lee. He would graduate from high school, earn his Bachelor and Master's, and go on to get his PhD. 

There would be eleven moves in the first eleven years before we settled down here on Greene Street. 
Multiple jobs in an effort to keep everything running. 
Year would pile up on year and the days rolled on. 
30 gave way to 40 and was soon followed by 50.
I remember on my 50th birthday looking in the mirror thinking to myself, "Who are you, and what did you do with that young fellow who use to look back at me?" 
Then the grand babies, Tyler and Ashley. It was like a new lease on life. The children of my children, and God was there.
In fact, He'd been there all along. He had guided me each step of that uncertain journey that I set out on from that night in the football stadium.
There were side trips along the way that I never should have taken.
There were dark times when I didn't know if we'd survive it our not. Bad choices I made which were followed by bad consequences. But God was there each step along the way.

In fact, sitting here at the computer this morning, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my future was defined in a small country church back in 1964. It was during a revival service and Hugh Chambliss was the visiting preacher. Me? I was twelve years old and was about to receive a call from God. "You are going to be a preacher." "Gee, I'm sorry God, you've got the wrong number. Should need assistance, try your local operator." So you see, that night in 1969 was all a part of my running away from God. I was Jonah and the stadium which swallowed me up that night, was the whale. It would be 28 more years before I said, "Yes" to God. Now I could play the "what-if" game from now until Jesus comes back, but I choose not to.

Over the past 17 years, I have experienced a peace unlike anything I've ever known. Simply because I am doing what God called me to back in 1964. There is no doubt in this old mind or heart that I am where I am suppose to be. Working and ministering to those in addiction. I never would have chosen this, but God knew that in some quirky way, I'd fit in. You know, I sure am glad that God got the job and not me. I don't think I'd be good at running the universe.

Thanks for letting me ramble a bit this morning, and I trust if you take anything away from this posting, you'll begin to see how God has had His hand on you. Even when it seemed like you were sitting all along in an empty football stadium.

God on you....


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will be 60 this fall, and I can also look back and marvel at God's goodness. He protected me spiritually, physically, so many ways, and to think the best is yet to come! We serve such a good God! I would that the young people I know could see how good He is and trust Him early in life, before they make decisions that will impact the rest of their life.

I don't know how it was when you were a kid, but for me, swimming was the thing. Any chance to get to go swimming was met with great e...