For thousands of generations, stories have changed mens' lives. God has impressed upon me that I am simply His tool to make a positive difference in the lives of others through story.
I have lived the most exciting life of any man I know. I live the most fulfilling life of anyone I know. I am loved more than anyone I know...except for maybe my wife Rae Ann. When I ask myself why this is, why me...there is but one answer, God loves me and He has a clear plan and a purpose for my life.
God has called me by name and equipped me to share His story as it has unfolded in this awesome life He has blessed me with. For reason's that only He knows, my life has been a never ending chain of amazing events (highs and lows) and stories of victory over one challenge after another.
I am truly blessed.
A View Through The Trees, Glimpses of God
“Now we see things imperfectly…. but then we will see everything completely.”
1 Cor 13: 12 NLT
One morning as I was having a long put off quiet time with the one whom I love more than any other, the Lord of the universe, I joyfully found myself caught up in a spirit of awe and very personal worship that I hadn’t experienced in some time as the music on the CD that I was playing on the stereo that I had really cranked up reverberated around and through my body and soul. Before I knew it, my arms were stretched over my head palms out reaching, reaching for Him.
I was raised in a very conservative southern Baptist environment where our worship in church was well… very regimented. Sunday mornings at church were strictly governed by the order of service with much emphasis on ORDER. Dressed in their Sunday best, folks would crowd through the doors with just minutes to spare hurriedly heading for “their” seats. Soon the choir director walk up to the front asking all to rise and begin leading the faithful, all standing at attention, eyes straight forward with hymnals positioned appropriately through all four or five stanzas of however many songs it took to fill his allocated time space in the service. I still recall the words of some of those great old hymns, but for the life of me, I cannot recall one single instance of the Spirit of God reaching out to me through this time of worship. In all those years of Sundays, I do not recall a time, as a young boy, of getting even a brief glimpse of the God that I was hearing so much about, and I wondered why that was. That was many years ago and so much has changed in these past forty years. I’m not sure but I honestly believe that had someone raised their hands in worship back in those days, others in church might have misinterpreted this act of personal worship and praise as some sort of seizure and sought medical help as they quickly and quietly escorted that person from the congregation. Well here I am as I said some forty years later and most times my worship in public is still inhibited by those old conservative behaviors I learned so long ago, even though at times my heart and soul cries out to lift my hands to reach out to the one I love. To try as I may to feel just a small touch of His Spirit.
This particular morning was different however. God had a plan because He knew how desperately I wanted and needed to be near to him, and how much He wanted me to know that He wanted to be near to me to comfort me and let me know that He was right there. As the sounds of the music flowed around and through me, all of my former inhibitions about proper worship fell away. It was just He and I. An audience of one. The joy of being surrounded by His Holy Spirit was more than I could contain and my arms were soon over my head with my palms spread open reaching out. The farther I reached, the farther I wanted to reach. When I could stretch no farther, God said to me, that’s far enough my son, I am here and He reached out and took me into Himself for a time. As I stood, arms raised palms out, tears flowing down my face and eyes closed, God opened my eyes and lifted my head towards Him.
God has blessed my wife Rae Ann and I with a modest home that has a view that at times literally takes my breath away. Though we live in a subdivision in a small town outside of St. Louis, the view off of our back deck is very private, even secluded as a small forest surrounds the back of our house. In my heart, I know that just beyond this veil of leaves and branches there is another world, a world of noise, confusion, hurry, and stress, a world of pressure and challenges that often have no obvious solution. But our back deck and the forest that lies just an arms length beyond is a retreat and a blessing given to us by God and today He was putting it to His good use.
You know what is one cool thing about God, the way He communicates when He really has something important to say to us. I believe that God gave man language to communicate with one another, but He reserved something else, something very special and far more personal for those times when He wants to talk directly with us as individuals.
On this particular morning as He turned my face to himself and opened my eyes, all I could see through the huge panes of glass standing between me and the forest was hundreds of irregular patches of blue sky breaking through the canopy of the forest above my head, hundreds of small portals, glimpses connecting my world to His, a view through the trees.
As I tried to take it all in, it was just too much for me and I was overcome. I fell to my knees on the floor, my face to the ground, my hands still turned to Him. I must have been there for a minute or so, when God again lifted my face towards Him. To my astonishment the view above had changed almost completely. From my now lowered or childlike position the number of openings through the trees was considerably less. Where before there had been hundreds, now there were only a few. Immediately God’s words as given to Paul in his letter of 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now [as children] we see things imperfectly, but then [as we grow to maturity in Him] we will see everything completely,” came into my mind. In my spirit, it was as if God said, Jay this is the message I have for you and that I want you to share with as many others as you can tell. I desire so much to reveal myself to you. My heart is for you to know me. I, God desire to have a very personal and intimate relationship with you, but you will only be able to handle so much of this, so I will give you brief glimpses of myself. As a child these glimpses will be fewer and smaller, but as you grow and mature, I will show you more.
Growing older isn’t so bad. We get to see more and more of Him. Cool!
Some years back a young friend who was about to become 30 asked me, Jay, “what advice would you give me that might help me as I enter this new phase of my life.” I prayed, God please give me your words for this young man. This is too important and I need your help on this. God answered and the following is my letter to Morgan.
When I was 18, I knew everything.
When I turned 30, I thought that I had arrived at my appointed place in life, a fighter pilot. I didn’t think I walked on water, I knew I did.
At 40 I began to pay a heavy price for a life filled with self-centeredness. However, a new picture began to form in my heart and it became obvious to me that I had been traveling on the wrong road most of my adult life. I had been traveling my road, not God’s road.
At 50 I realized that there was more of my life behind me than ahead of me, and in my heart I knew that it was finally time for me to get in the game, to become committed to something and to someone...God.
Today I am 60 and the last 10 years of my life have not only been the most rewarding, but the most totally fulfilling years of my life. God has SHOWN himself to me and PROVEN to me that HE eagerly awaits the opportunity to AMAZE each of us. HE says; let me show you what I can do. Let me show you HOW MUCH I love you. Now many of my days begin with a short prayer, God please help me not to get in the way of what you want to do with my life.
Where should a man be at 30? What are the 30s all about?
The answer is simple my friend; the doing is a bit tougher. A man should be on his knees until he is absolutely sure that he is walking with God. Your thirties are for foundation and relationship building. In your thirties your intellect is starting to catch up with your physical abilities.
What are the pitfalls?
They are everywhere! Honestly. It’s like walking in a mine field.
I would have sought discipline, wisdom, and judgment at any cost. I would have loved my family every day as if it were the last day of my life. I would have spent a lot more time on my knees. I would have smiled more.
I write stuff. I talk about the stuff I write. God has blessed my life in more ways that I can list. I am not nearly as smart as I think I am. God is very patient with me. God has demonstrated how much He loves me. He gave me His only son Jesus. He gave me my wife. He gave me 5 wonderful children and so far 8 beautiful grandchildren. I am blessed above all men.