Thursday, November 15, 2012

Never Once

Today is my 43rd birthday. This picture was taken at my birthday party when I turned 6 years old. Life was so simple. I had all my best friends there around that table. Kyle and Carl Dickson, Paul Phillips, Scott Rogers, Bo Sanford and Kim Lomax...who should get friend points for being the only girl at a boy's birthday party! My father made the he would do for several more birthdays. I literally remember the moment this picture was it was yesterday.

Those years were simple...full of love, full of mischief, full of laughter. I am an only child who always wanted siblings. The kids sitting at this table were like siblings to me...most still are. Kyle Dickson (in the ball cap) and I went through ACU together--pledging, Homecoming musicals, Sing Song, homemade movies, trips to Nashville and the Reynolds's house in Fort Worth. He was by my side as my dad laid dying from cancer. He was in my wedding and has been a brother to me for a long time. There are similar stories with other kids around this table.

I loved my childhood. I was blessed with great parents and great friends. But, I don't want to go back. How we all survive life is sometimes a mystery to me. The simple days fade. The laughter is sometimes exchanged for heart-wrenching tears. But, the older I get the more I see how God was with me every step of the way.

In the Old Testament, Joseph had it pretty deception, kidnapping, jealousy, slavery, prison...then things got better. But it is written through all of it that God was with him. Often, in our Americanized version of Christianity we think that God With Us means all is happy and well. It's the health-wealth gospel that wears me out. We don't often think about how "God With Us" could mean that we actually face trials and things DON'T work out. Cancer isn't healed...that relationship isn't runs out...a child dies...a job is lost...etc. Sometimes it can feel as if we judge God's presence based on how well things are working out for US.

It's a powerful thought to know that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. No height, depth, struggle, failure, angel, demon....nothing. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

I praise Him for 43 amazing years full of laughter, tears, victories, defeats, struggles, freedom, my wife Sheryl, friends, loss, hope, arguments, music, Sheryl's singing, the sound of my children's voices, the squeals of joy at Christmas, the tears of my son as he said goodbye to his Paw-Paw (Sheryl's dad), ZOE, Nashville, Abilene, Cruise ships, much more.

This has become one of my anthems...Matt Redman's "Never Once"

Standing on this mountain top
Looking just how far we've come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say...

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

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