My 9-year-old daughter Jennifer was'TdoftM forward to our family's mini-vacation. But when our vacation arrived, she became ill, and a long anticipated day at Sea World was replaced by an all-night series of cat scans, X-rays, and blood work at the hospital.
As morning approached, the doctors told my exhausted little girl that she would need to have one more test, a spinal tap. The procedure would be painful, they said. The doctor then asked me if I planned to stay in the room. I nodded my head, knowing I couldn't leave Jennifer alone during the ordeal.
The doctors gently asked Jennifer to remove all her clothing. She looked at me with childlike modesty as if to ask if that were all right. They then had her curl into a tiny ball. I buried my face in hers and hugged her.
When the needle went in, Jennifer cried. As the searing pain increased, she sobbingly repeated, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," her voice becoming more earnest with each word. It was as if she was saying, "Oh Daddy, this hurts sooooo bad. Please, can't you do something?"
My tears mingled with hers. My heart was broken. I felt nauseous. Because I loved her, I was allowing her to go through the most agonizing experience of her life, and I could hardly stand it. (We later learned that Jennifer's illness was not serious.)
In the middle of that spinal tap, my thoughts went to the cross of Christ. What unspeakable pain both the Son — and the Father — went through at the cross for our sakes.
—-Tim Miller Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania
Perhaps no composer has captured the musical heart and soul of America as did Irving Berlin. In addition to familiar favorites such as "God Bless America" and "Easter Parade," he wrote, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," which still ranks as the all-time best-selling musical score.
In an interview for the San Diego Union, Don Freeman asked Berlin, "Is there any question you've never been asked that you would like someone to ask you?"
"Well, yes, there is one," he replied. " 'What do you think of the many songs you've written that didn't become hits?' My reply would be that I still think they are wonderful."
God, too, has an unshakeable delight in what — and whom — he has made. He thinks each of his children is wonderful, and whether they're a "hit" in the eyes of others or not, he will always think they're wonderful.
—Jim Adams Buenos Aires, Argentina
Charles Colson and several other Christian leaders once met with President Borja of Ecuador to discuss Prison Fellowship International's ministry in Ecuadorian penitentiaries. They had no sooner been seated in luxurious leather chairs and begun to speak when the President interrupted the conversation with a story — the story of his own imprisonment years before being elected to the presidency.
He had been involved in the struggle for democracy in Ecuador. The military cracked down, and he was arrested. Without trial, they threw him into a cold dungeon with no light and no window. No one knew where he was, and for three days he endured the solitary fear and darkness that can drive a person mad.
Just when the situation seemed unbearable, the huge steel door opened, and someone crept into the darkness. Borja heard the person working on something in the opposite corner. Then the figure crept out, closed the door, and disappeared.
Minutes later the room suddenly blazed with light. Someone, perhaps taking his life into his hands, had connected electricity to the broken light fixture. The darkness of the dungeon was gone. "From that moment," explained President Borja, "my imprisonment had meaning because at least I could see."
Even more important than the light we see with our eyes is the light that Christ brings to our hearts, giving our lives the understanding and meaning only he can give.
—Ronald W. Nikkei Washington, D.C.
A man writing at the post office desk was approached by an older fellow with a post card in his hand. The old man said, "Sir, could you please address this post card for me?"
The man gladly did so, agreeing also to write a short message and sign the card for the man. Finally the younger man asked, "Now, is there anything else I can do for you?"
The old fellow thought about it for a moment and said, "Yes, at the end could you just put, 'P.S. Please excuse the sloppy handwriting.' "
How often it is that we complain against those who do the most for us.
—John Yates Falls Church, Virginia
Good Name -
In his book, / Almost Missed The Sunset, Bill Gaither writes:
Gloria and I had been married a couple of years. We were teaching school in Alexandria, Indiana, where I had grown up, and we wanted a piece of land where we could build a house. I noticed the parcel south of town where cattle grazed, and I learned it belonged to a 92-year-old retired banker named Mr. Yule. He owned a lot of land in the area, and the word was he would sell none of it. He gave the same speech to everyone who inquired: "I promised the farmers they could use it for their cattle."
Gloria and I visited him at the bank. Although he was retired, he spent a couple of hours each morning in his office. He looked at us over the top of his bifocals.
I introduced myself and told him we were interested in a piece of his land. "Not selling," he said pleasantly. "Promised it to a farmer for grazing."
"I know, but we teach school here and thought maybe you'd be interested in selling it to someone planning to settle in the area."
He pursed his lips and stared at me. "What'd you say your name was?"
"Gaither. Bill Gaither."
"Hmmm. Any relation to Grover Gaither?"
"Yes, sir. He was my granddad."
Mr. Yule put down his paper and removed his glasses. "Interesting. Grover Gaither was the best worker I ever had on my farm. Full day's work for a day's pay. So honest. What'd you say you wanted?"
I told him again.
"Let me do some thinking on it, then come back and see me."
I came back within the week, and Mr. Yule told me he had had the property appraised. I held my breath. "How does $3,800 sound? Would that be okay?"
If that was per acre, I would have to come up with nearly $60,000! "$3,800?" I repeated.
"Yup. Fifteen acres for $3,800."
I knew it had to be worth at least three times that. I readily accepted.
Nearly three decades later, my son and I strolled that beautiful, lush property that had once been pasture land. "Benjy," I said, "you've had this wonderful place to grow up through nothing that you've done, but because of the good name of a great-granddad you never met."
"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Prov 22:1). j
A university professor tells of being invited to speak at a military base one December and there meeting an unforgettable soldier named Ralph. Ralph had been sent to meet him at the airport, and after they had introduced themselves, they headed toward the baggage claim.
As they walked down the concourse, Ralph kept disappearing. Once to help an older woman whose suitcase had fallen open. Once to lift two toddlers up to where they could see Santa Claus. And again to give directions to someone who was lost. Each time he came back with a big smile on his face.
"Where did you learn to do that?" the professor asked.
"Do what?" Ralph said.
"Where did you learn to live like that?"
"Oh," Ralph said, "during the war, I guess." Then he told the professor about his tour of duty in Viet Nam, about how it was his job to clear mine fields, and how he watched his friends blow up before his eyes, one after another.
"I learned to live between steps," he said. "I never knew whether the next one would be my last, so I learned to get everything I could out of the moment between when I picked up my foot and when I put it down again. Every step I took was a whole new world, and I guess I've just been that way ever since."
The abundance of our lives is not determined by how long we live, but how well we live. Christ makes abundant life possible if we choose to live it now.
—Barbara Brown Taylor Clarkesville, Georgia
In Hawaii, because of the time differential with the continental U.S., the nfl Monday Night Football game is played in mid-afternoon, so the local tv station delays its telecast till 6:30 in the evening.
When my favorite team plays, I'm too excited to wait for television, so I'll listen to the game on the radio, which broadcasts it live. Then, because they're my favorite team, I'll watch the game on television, too.
If I know my team has won the game, it influences how I watch it on television. If my
team fumbles the ball or throws an interception, it's not a problem. I think, That's bad, but it's okay. In the end, we'll win!
"In this world you will have trouble," said Jesus. "But take heart! I havejavexcome the world" (John 16:33)
When going through trouble, knowing the final outcome makes all the difference.
—Lyle Arakaki Honolulu, Hawaii
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