The other day I was talking with my cousin Randy about things in general, his impending cancer surgery, how much I’ve missed seeing him while I’ve been in southern exile, etc.
And he began to talk about some of the great things he and I had done in the past, and other things I had done. Honestly, I think he has a much better memory than I do. Either that or he has me confused with someone else.
Like the time, he says, we climbed to the top of a high cliff, and jumped into Lake Erie in the springtime. Cold, cold water. I kinda do remember that. It was rather stupid looking back on it, but I was 20… goes with the turf.
We both remembered golfing, and seeing a Japanese businessman struck by lightening. We still laugh at his determination to make the shot. After he came to, smoke rising from his rain suit, he steadied himself and made the put.
Or when I married, we played water football in the lake right up until an hour before the ceremony, which thankfully was only a mile down the road from where we were playing. Hmm.
Or the first time I rode my road bike 100 miles. Or the whirlwind trip we made to the UP to collect rock samples for Randy’s college geology class, he had missed half the quarter hospitalized and we camped all over the UP chiseling out rocks…it was fun! Then we jumped into Lake Superior in our undies at the end of one long dusty day in a quarry. I remember nearly passing out it was so cold. And the local woman watching us from the sand dune, amazed at the young idiots swimming in the freezing cold water nearly naked. You have to say “naked” with a Georgia accent…”nekked”.
Or the trip I made to northern Manitoba when I was 18, canoing for 2 weeks in absolute wilderness, with only a map and a compass, and a partner, to make it out. My Dad freaked out when he looked on the map and saw we were nearly to Hudson Bay. We had driven 40+ hours non-stop to get to our starting point, no bath, only sleeping in the car, and were in desperate need of some personal hygiene. I walked down to the dock, with a bar of soap, and jumped in. I stood there in shock, the water must have been well below 50 degrees. My partner, who was a rather “large” man, asked how it was. I croaked out, “Come on in, the water is fine”. He galloped down the dock, hit the water, and emerged cussing and grabbing for me, just screaming about how “blanking cold” it was. I was already running back to the car, laughing so hard I could hardly breathe.
Or when I left the faith, no, walked out on Jesus, spit on him, and quit. I remember this well. I later moved in with the woman who later became my wife. I know he can redeem even this, but I am ashamed of what I did. Still. And I want Jesus to heal and embrace this, to somehow use it for His glory. I don’t know. Peter has nothing on me.
Lately, I am discovering that this person, the unique parts, are still there. Maybe buried under years of neglect and crying to get out, struggling to break out of the corporate mold of a property manager for a fortune 500 company, struggling to reconnect with the Lord who has been patiently calling to me these last several years. I don’t know what He has, but I want it. Sometimes I think I am far under water, desperately swimming toward the surface.
I find it very hard to think of Jesus as still calling me to follow him, after all of the failure and rebellion. That He can still use me. I’ve confessed this to the congregation, and they have embraced me, affirmed me, and are battling along side me for freedom and purpose in Christ. I have so far to go, and only in Jesus.
I saw a scripture that brought it all home. It was Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”.