February 9-10, 2013
Super Bowl just passed, and it always brings up memories. You see, I’m a Steelers’ fan … born in the Pittsburgh area. During my teen years in the 70s, Super Bowls were unbelievable events. My beloved Steel Curtain smashed their way to an unprecedented four championships in six years. I saw teamwork, sacrifice, perseverance, commitment, intentionality, practice, heroes, legends, invincibility, power, and role models. I learned so much through those fun Super Bowl journeys. I celebrated on Super Sundays.
For a while though, Super Bowl Sunday also conjured up some terrible memories. You see, from late high school through college and medical school, I made many poor choices that led to many issues including a significant alcohol addiction. My worst memory ever is January 25, 1987, Super Bowl Sunday. I was in the middle of medical school with an awesome future ahead of me. It started at a party with a bunch of med school friends. Through a series of decisions that became progressively more stupid (consuming lots of alcohol, winning $600 in a party pool, more “celebrating” at a strip bar, driving drunk after a severe snow and ice storm, evading arrest, 6 counts of aggravated assault, several cuts, a bruised and battered body), I ended up in Newark City jail. I could have been killed, or worse, killed others, several times that evening.
Jail … never thought I would be there, but it was what I needed at that time to protect me from myself, Satan, and the world. Most importantly, it was the best place to be alone and think. And God really spoke to me. I finally listened and decided that life according to my instruction book … my kingdom come, my will be done … wasn’t working. My hole had been growing deeper and deeper over an 8-year stretch. I finally understood what Jesus did for me, and what God wanted to do in my life … transform me and bless me with an abundant life by fulfilling all my needs. I started to really know, love, and delight in my Lord. I finally decided to make Him not just Savior, but also Lord of my life, which is what He specifically asked me to do that night in jail.
Well, it took me several years to sort it out and really appreciate that day. Now I look back and thank God so much for what He has done for me and through me. My terrible memories of that one Super Bowl Sunday have been wiped clean with the blood of Christ. God has blessed me with spiritual growth, a loving wife, my three fantastic girls, friends, profession, ministry, coworkers, and many experiences, all beyond my wildest dreams, especially compared to being in jail facing felony charges. (Not wanting to test God, I always make sure I am in a safe place Super Sunday.)
Today, realize that each decision, regardless of how big or small it is, has definite ripples. Are you measuring the ripple effect? Second, if you are experiencing difficulties, hope is in the Lord, not in your efforts or abilities. Third, if you have done some terrible things in the past, God will forgive and help you move forward, using even those events in powerful ways to impact you, others, and His kingdom. Lastly, after accepting Christ as your personal Savior, make the defining decision of your life on Earth to let Him be the Lord of your life. That’s when life really comes alive and makes sense as it pushes you to connect fully with Him. Whom you follow as Lord of your life is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, You, Your love, and grace are truly amazing. I thank You for not leaving me even though I left You many times. Thanks for landing me in jail, so I finally could block out all the distractions of life and meet You and listen to what You had been trying to tell me for many years. Thanks for the tremendous opportunity to serve You and for Your willingness to use me in Your service … it is truly humbling. I pray this in the name of the One I delight in, Jesus Christ; And all God’s children say – AMEN!
Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when laughter ends, the grief remains. Proverbs 14:13
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26,27