October 25 marked the beginning of my 67th year (that means I turned 66, for those who are unsure how that works.)
I think I shall enjoy being 66, although I cannot, for the life of me, say why. Perhaps it’s just the alliteration of the year. Those who are familiar with my work for Mission Muffins know that I have a certain fondness for it.
The 25th itself was a hectic work day, but it was interspersed with birthday wishes from friends and family. The day before and the day after, however, were extra special and I will tell you why.
On the 24th, I received an early present from my dear friend Cary. It was a book titled “Memoirs of a Longshot” and it was written by her father, W. Cothram “Cot” Campbell, who died just about a year ago.
On the 26th, I received another book. This one was from another dear friend, Deedee, and is titled “My Heart Cries Out” written by Paul David Tripp.
I have barely scratched the surface of each book, but the scratching I have done has revealed to me that I am truly blessed by God to have such wonderful friends. I am going to quote a little from each book in the hope that they will know how much I cherish their friendship and Christian love, and in the hope that some of you may be moved to want to read these books as well.
I will start with “Cot’s” book. After the passage I am going to share, I found myself eager to know more about the man who wrote it. I also found myself wishing I had known him as well.
As I read the following, I found myself thinking, “Oh my goodness, I could have written those paragraphs!”
From “Memoirs of a Longshot”
“No one has ever had a more fascinating existence on this planet than me. I am not too far from eight decades of life, and during my days I have done nothing that will make me immortal in the big scheme of things. I am certainly not a famous man. No monumental contributions, no legendary deeds.
But how delicious it is to me that the early part of my life – so tumultuous, so often exciting, and so frequently miserable by my own doing – really made possible the absolutely, indescribably wonderful latter part of it. I love the idea that this is so.”
Some who will read this will not get this passage’s relationship to me. but those who know my story most certainly will. I look forward to the rest of the journey through “Cot’s” life. Thank you, Cary. You are a true gift from God, not just to me, but to all whose lives you have touched.
As I opened “My Heart Cries Out” and read the Preface, I knew, once again, that a perfect present had been given. In Mr.Tripp’s words, “What you are about to read are notes from my journey through the struggle of God’s amazing grace. These are my meditations on the ever-present battle to live out of the resources of that grace while I walk my way through this sadly broken and dysfunctional world.”
Further on in the “Preface” were these thoughts on God’s grace:
“We look for grace to relieve and release us, and sometimes it does, but God’s grace regularly comes to us in uncomfortable forms. God’s grace causes us to face things in ourselves that are hard to see, consider, accept, and confess. Often God’s grace takes us into things we would like to avoid, things that are hard, discouraging, and sad.God’s grace will not only give us wonderful gifts, but it will also take precious things away from us. It will not only tell us the best news ever, it will also force us to accept the worst news we could ever be told. It will not only tell us that God is strong, but it will remind us of how weak we are without him.”
For those who think God’s grace is all warm and fuzzy, I think you need to read this book.
For those who know it’s not, you do too.
My own gut feeling is that each of these gifts contains lessons to be learned and experiences to share, and I look forward to learning the lessons and sharing the experiences.
I know a lot of people do not have any faith at all in God.
I used to be one.
I know there are many who flat out deny His existence.
I teetered on the edge.
But I tell you, He exists, and these two wonderful friends are just a couple of drops in the bucket of proof of His existence I have received since my nearly successful suicide attempt 10 years ago.
Thank you, Cary and Deedee, for all you have shown me, and meant to me these last 5 years of life in Washington, DC.