Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Savior, Please

Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. (Psalms 6:4)

As another year comes to a close, I give thanks to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His hand guided me through a challenging year – filled with highs and lows. During one of those low points, a song came out that really touched me – Savior, Please by Josh Wilson. The following lyric hit home with me the most: “Savior, please keep saving me.”

Although Jesus’ greatest saving work (his death on the cross) was completed once and for all over 2,000 years ago, His saving efforts continue daily. So many times I call on Him for support, and His hand is always there. There’s never a frustrated “Oh what do you want this time” or “Oh it’s you again” response, but rather a gentle, loving response each and every time.

For some trials the help is immediate, while for others, extra patience is required. But there is never a doubt into whose arms I’m going to run when my chips are down; even less of a doubt if the Savior will be willing to save me (again).

Friday, July 25, 2008

One More Lap for Dad

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

For the first time in 30 years, the family pool remained closed throughout the summer of 2006. It seemed only appropriate that one of the family symbols of joy and celebration would remain silent…especially at a time of such sorrow with the passing of both my Dad and Grandmother.

To be honest, deep-down I never wanted that pool to be opened again. In my mind, it just would never be the same without my Dad, who had labored so hard to keep it going for three decades. Despite my internal objections, my sister pressed to have the pool opened last summer and then again this year. I found the desire to go in it just briefly last summer, but a couple weeks ago, a “quick dip” on a Saturday evening became something much more than that. As the sun was setting on a perfect night, one bright star began to shine brightly in the cloudless sky. As I stared at it intently, I could hear the Lord say to me “It’s time - let it go!!"

Within minutes I began doing just that. The joy of my childhood returned to me over the next couple hours, as once again the family pool became a symbol of celebration rather than one of painful loss. After I had enough fun, I was ready to grab my towel and call it a night. But then I looked towards the house, and there peeking through the darkness was the same chair in the same position my Dad would sit in for hours - day after day, summer after summer - watching me perform dive after dive, and lap after lap. He always took such joy in it, and never let me call it a night without making “One more dive!” or swimming “One more lap!”

I tried to recall the number of years it had been since I swam a full lap in that pool, but it had been too many. What had once been a daily summer event, had become a far too distant memory of the past. On this night, however, I knew it was not going to end without me completing one last mission. I lifted up a thankful prayer to the heavens as I walked over to the low end, and then swam one more lap for Dad.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

When I Am Weak, He Is Strong

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Unfortunately, far too frequently these days I’m hearing of another person battling cancer. My heart goes out to each and every one of you (both the patients and the care-givers), especially after all of the trials my family endured a couple years back with my Dad and Grandmother.

At the height of the battle, I remember sitting in a church service during one of my trips to New Jersey and being completely lost in despair. I had just left my Dad’s hospital room and it was becoming all too clear that the odds of survival were against him. As I was sinking lower and lower in my seat, the service closed with two songs that shared a common theme: Only Grace and Your Grace Is Enough. I normally love to sing along with the worship team, but that day as the tears overflowed, all I had the strength to do was soak in each word. As I did, I was reminded of these powerful words from the apostle Paul - to rejoice even in the hardest of times; for when we are weak, He is strong.

I left that service with a renewed focus to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord, and He proved yet again how strong and faithful He was to carry me through it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Amazing Grace

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

Dee and I recently watched the movie “Amazing Grace” which tells the story of the campaign against the slave trade in Britain in the 18th century, led by abolitionist William Wilberforce.

Many are familiar with the song, and now the movie, but the one thing I’ll carry with me the most was a quote in the movie made by John Newton: “Though I have lost my memory, two things I know. I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great savior.” In twenty one words, it sums up the incomparable gift of God’s amazing grace. It demonstrates the humility of a man who has come to acknowledge that he cannot stand before a perfect God on his own merits, and the serenity of a man who has firmly placed his trust in the only one who can – Jesus Christ.

Through the trials of each day, it is easy to forget that the battle has already been won by the blood Christ shed on the cross. There is no sin that escapes the vast reach of the Savior, only those souls who are unwilling to accept His sacrifice.