I have removed the last of my clothes, put on my last green gown, and stepped on my last scale in a doctor’s office for the last time. Or at least for the next few months. To my delight, I was told by my orthopedist that my knee is “debilitated”—which I took to mean “crappy”—but that it has no significant structural damage. He recommended some physical therapy, but it’s unlikely I’ll go. I figure I can give myself rehab on the subway stairs.
There’s a part of me that wishes I had a new reason to visit the men and women in the NYU Langone center. I love visiting a doctor’s office. I enjoy the whole process, from filling in my new married name to checking out with the insurance card.
“That’s because you’re the only person who doesn’t have to lie when you go to the doctor,” my colleague told me. “The rest of us have to lie about how much we smoke and drink.”
‘Tis true, but she gives me too much credit. If they ever start asking how many brownies a person consumes, I’m doomed. It’s not the glass of wine on a very rare occasion that could overtake me, it’s Little Debbie.
In other news, I am so proud to say that I started working on my first “talk”. You might think of it as a sermon, but I think of it as an intimate exchange between me and anyone who has ears to listen. And I’m proud to say that this first talk grew out of simple time in God’s presence—not arduous, strained brainstorming on days when I feel extra holy, but just simple time with Him–, and the simple story below.
In 1954, Rice University played against the University of Alabama in the famous Cotton Bowl. Rice University pulled ahead of Alabama rather quickly. Near the end of the game, a rather fast runner named Dicky Maegle carried the ball for Rice, and he was running along the sideline toward the goal. An Alabama player named Tommy Lewis was seated on the bench, watching Dicky run toward him, watching him get closer to another touchdown. So Tommy Lewis, who was not wearing a helmet, jumped up from the bench and tackled Dicky to the ground, almost knocking him out.
Upon seeing his player tackled like this, the Rice University coach threw down his clipboard and stormed over to the Alabama coach. He yelled and demanded to know just what the heck the Alabama player was thinking when he pulled a stunt like that. The Alabama coach turned to his embarrassed player who was once again seated on the bench, this time with his head in his hands. Tommy slowly raised his head, looked his coach square in the eye and said, “I’m sorry coach.”
He continued, “I guess I just have too much Alabama in me.”
I smile each time I hear that.
For the past two weeks I’ve been deep-diving into the book of Job. I see so much of myself in him, the man who takes God’s big tests. Job lost his children and his fortune in a single day, but he praised God for what remained. Then he lost his health and still, he praised God. But ultimately, he grew silent. It is in his silence that he begins to think on how unfair his situation has become. His friends come and sit with him, and he silently begins to compare his situation to theirs. When Job was actively praising God, giving thanks and singing songs, he was too occupied with the act of praise to be concerned with anything else. It is in his silence that he begins to take his focus off of God’s character, and instead focus on his problems. The next time he opens his mouth, out roll complaints and bitterness, and we then spend the next thirty-five chapters watching him question God, and rebel against his own Maker.
You’ve been there. I’ve been there. We start out so strong when a test comes. We use our weapons, mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, at first. We wage war on our doubts and fight back with praise, reminding ourselves of what God has already brought us through—and then we stop. It’s always by mistake that we stop, we never mean to. We just let one…little…complaint out, and then we can’t stop. We come to our senses eventually and run to God with tears in our eyes, sorry for ever feeling the way we did when we were at our low point.
How long will your next silence last? Thirty-five minutes, or thirty-five weeks, or thirty-five chapters of your life?
Don’t answer that.
I hope that both of us have learned to never stop praising and thanking God, not even for thirty-five seconds. And what I really hope is that both of us get a little competitive – that we grow mad when we see our adversary is about to score against us – and that we hit him with everything we’ve got because we’ve got too much Alabama, I mean CONFIDENCE IN GOD, in us to just sit back and watch.
So…if you have been silent, or complaining lately, get off of the bench and do something about it. That’s your challenge today, and really, for the rest of your life.
You’re able. You’re able. You’re able.
To Chris: Dude, you’ve been following this blog for 1 year and 9 months. Your talent and posts make me laugh and smile, years after high school has finished. And you’ve been so honest about your sobriety, and it’s so inspiring. You may not believe in grace, but it believes in you.
To Tiffany: You prayed over your pursuits, then dared to see them through to the end. You have separated yourself from followers to become a true leader, and you are worthy of your position. Some of us need words to minister, all you need is a baking pan and a recipe. So special, so lovely. I love you, and thank you for supporting me!