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“Eight” A New Beginning

My friend Gary always wore number eight when we played ball together. His reason for this favorite number was “a new beginning.” God did all of his creating in six days and rested on the seventh. So what happened on the eighth day? He started creating again, with a new beginning! It also applies to a person who comes to Christ. Old things are passed away, behold all things are new! The first seven can represent what happened in the past. When he forgives our sins and saves us the eight represents the beginning of the new life in him!

This new beginning thing has been hitting me hard lately! I mentioned in recent entries about my dad giving me his car on his death bed. I drove that same car faithfully for the last fifteen years. It was something that I was emotionally attached to. Today the deal became official as I was forced to sell his car because repairs became too expensive. Now I am driving a new to me car and a “new beginning” is taking place. I also have mentioned my job and the person who I have worked with for the last fifteen years retiring. Monday will be another “new beginning” as I get used to working with a new person. These “new beginnings” that have been coming my way lately do not compare to a day twenty years ago when my world turned upside down. This was a “new beginning” I didn’t want, but one I was forced to deal with.

My beloved daughter Rebecca had died. She got sick over a weekend. At first it was a temperature and throwing up (classic flu symptoms). At the time they didn’t have the immediate care facilities they have now. We treated it like the flu and on Monday when she wasn’t any better we took her to the doctor. She was unresponsive and the doctor sent us home with the advice of give her plenty of liquids. About an hour after we were sent home Rebecca was laying on the couch and rolled off onto the floor. It was a violent reaction and her little eyes were rolling back in her head. Just then the phone rang and it was the doctor. He said to take her to the emergency room. Unfortunately that seizure was the final blow. Although at the emergency room they did all they could, that night she was declared brain dead.

From the beginning Rebecca was daddy’s girl! I loved taking her to the local pizza and video games place. We would enjoy watching the same clown do the same magic tricks over and over and still couldn’t figure out how he could take five pieces of rope and make it into one long one! Yet time after time it happened and every time we were amazed! It was amazing because talking to Rebecca was like talking to a grown up. She was well loved by both grandma’s as we worked in the day and they took special time with her! Her little mind seemed to absorb everything! One time we were at the big church and the pastor gave an altar call. Rebecca in her quiet way informed her mommy that she wanted to go up. I don’t remember if we all went up together or if we just said a prayer in the pew but Rebecca’s light that was always bright became even brighter!

We had two songs we sang together that I learned in camp years ago. One was called “I Sing a New Song.” It went like this…I sing a new song, since Jesus came, serve a new master, wear a new name, walk a new road, have a new goal, know a new peace, down deep in my soul. One of us would sing the first part and the other one would echo it. After we both sang each part we joined in together and sang all of the words in harmony. The last part we would both stretch our arms out and together sing Down Deep in My Soul!!!!
The other camp song we always sang together was called “Of What Are You Sure?” It was sang with one person asking the questions and the other answering. Then the next time we reversed roles. The third time we sang together in harmony! It went like this…”Of what are you sure? I’m sure I’m on my way to heaven..And how do you know? I know my sins are all forgiven, Are you sure of it? I’m confident, persuaded I am saved, And how do you know? I know for Christ is mine. The third time with both of us harmonizing we would emphasize that last line “I know for Christ is mine!!!” The words are so basic and yet we need to get back to the basics! When we would ask Rebecca what she wanted to be when she grew up Rebecca would answer “an artist.” Her preschool teacher made the point of exuberantly telling us of her talents. Her pictures were of the talent of kids twice her age! Her smile just lit up a room and her heart was always so pure!

In late 1991 when Rebecca was four the church had a play they were putting on called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.” The play was about many different family and individual lives coming to an end. I remember one was a real old christian lady that died and Jesus welcomed her into heaven. Then there were the non believers who died and the loud roar of the devil and the red lighting! It was very scary even for me sitting there. For Rebecca it was so frightening she slumped down low in her seat. The play went on for five straight nights and Rebecca wanted to go back each night! She soon found the courage to stay upright in her seat when we explained that it was just an actor and even if it wasn’t the devil cannot touch those who belong to God! I told her coming home one night that the main thing about this life was that we were saved so we would be going to heaven in the next life. Her quick response was “I wonder if the twins are saved?” She was referring to two twin boys her age across the street that came over and played with her.

The pastor at the big church we were going to wrote a poem about Rebecca and presented it at her funeral. It was called “Rebecca Led the Way” and it talked about how it will be a great reunion day for my family someday in heaven and Rebecca led the way there! That poem meant a lot to us in our grief! That poem was what we needed at that time to try to put a rhyme and reason to what had happened to us. That poem said the words in a way that made us feel it was from God!

So now we fast forward a couple of months. We had switched churches from a big church to a smaller one. Basically there were two reasons that we did. One was the pastor of this smaller church. Because my mom had attended this church the pastor came up and ministered to us! He counseled my wife and I in such a caring way that we felt a bond. The other factor was the fact that we just needed a smaller church where we could get to know more people more intimately. So here it is early November and I am sitting in the pew listening to the message. The pastor liked to do messages in a series. The series for the next few weeks would be about “Fresh Fire.” I think it was a book he was reading that inspired him to go into this topic. As I was sitting there I felt the spirit telling me to write a poem. I have written a poem or two in my lifetime and wrote a couple of songs but this was more meaningful, more powerful, and more of a calling! I started writing down points in the sermon and brought the paper home and the poem started to flow as I felt the spirit leading me!

It is ironic how God works! I came to that church to be ministered to for something devastating that happened to me and my family. God showed me that the best way for me to be ministered to was to minister to others. It seemed odd too that the particular topic was fresh fire. God was preparing me for that number eight, “a new beginning.” What he was saying to me was that whatever happened in the past is over. It is time to start over again. The sermon wasn’t about God’s mercy for the hurting, or how God helps overcome grief. It was about a fresh fire in our lives. Because whatever comes my way, both good and bad, I can be at peace when I have his fire burning in me! From that first “Fresh Fire” poem there were well over one hundred more. The pastor would read them as part of his sermons! Sometimes they would come from sermons, other times thoughts or ideas as I kept my mind and heart open for his leading. When we realize that God is eternal and everything else is just temporary, we can get our priorities in line!

Much like when that clown at the video games and pizza place put that rope together, God does the same thing with our lives. The clown used diversion tricks to substitute the big rope for the many segments. God pieces our lives together without tricks. He is constantly using the number eight in our lives. He links many beginnings and endings to mold and shape us for his use! The following poem is the first poem I wrote from a sermon. It is called “Fresh Fire Is Not Free.” The message of the poem continues and will always be true. In order to get the fresh fire we vitally need in our lives we have to give God everything that we have! Then the fire will flow and we will not lack!

Please scroll to the 32:36 point of this video for a story that relates to this particular piece.

Fresh Fire Is Not Free

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Fresh fire Lord,
That’s what I say
But how do I get it?
Show me the way

Give me the power,
give me the boldness,
give me the wisdom
to cut through their coldness

I waited expecting
that new fresh fire
Then came a voice,
Do you really desire?

The thing that you ask for,
it comes with a cost
It starts with a burden
to rescue the lost

You ask me to give you,
what will you give me?
This thing that you ask for,
it isn’t for free

The price of my daily
filling your cup
is for you to be humble,
your will give up

Give praise to your God,
walk in the light
for I have delivered you
from the cold, lonely night

Quit trying to take
a small part of me
Give up your own way,
then you will see

The power, the glory,
the victory too
The fruit of the Spirit,
that’s my will for you

Keep your heart open
throughout the day
I may be able
to use you some way

The thing that you ask for,
it is no short journey
You must open your heart
for continuous learning

Give me your whole life,
don’t hold anything back,
then the fire will fall
and you will not lack

Give me your quality
time when you pray
Learn how to trust me,
my commandments obey

Walk in the Spirit,
live always near it
Take hold of my hand
and I’ll let you stand

The Spirit-filled life is
my desire for you
so walk with me daily
and I’ll make all things new

Stay in the vine
all of the time,
then I can entrust you
with all that is mine

Can I make this commitment?
How can I dare?
Then out of my heart
came this beautiful prayer

Lord, thank you for showing me
your wisdom so true
and let me still ask for
fresh fire anew

Let me give you
my whole life and more,
then I will see victory
The heavens will pour

Blessings and love
down on me today,
If only I’ll learn
to trust and obey

Fresh fire Lord,
that’s what I say
I give you my all
come and fill me today.

Jesus replied “Love the Lord
your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with
all your might’…”

Matthew 12:37

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2 thoughts on ““Eight” A New Beginning

  1. Tommelia on said:

    Numbers 6:24-26 KJV
    24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:

    25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

    26 The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

    One cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak your family endured, but you allowed us all a precious glimpse and priceless testimony of who your daughter was, and where she is now beyond all doubt. This moved me to tears….but then settled my soul because even at her young age she had the prescient knowledge of God’s saving grace and acted upon it. Thank you for this beautiful entry and God bless you and yours!

  2. Cindy Parish on said:

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to save this in my personal file to read again. And again.
    Thank you seems so banal, so trite. You’ll never know how it touched my heart.
    Thank you, Lewis!

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