#5 God’s Party (March 10, 2017)
This story compares the Wonder Years disastrous party episode with the party that God will be giving. https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/gods-party/
#5 God’s Party (March 10, 2017)
This story compares the Wonder Years disastrous party episode with the party that God will be giving. https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/gods-party/
#6 Lifeboat Skills Salvation Thrills (February 18, 2017)
The old saying I wish I knew then what I know now applies here. Over 90% of Christians have never led someone else to Christ. I regret not offering a friend of mine named Steve many years ago. As Christians we need to have a plan and let God lead us through the plan. This story explains….https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/lifeboat-skills-salvation-thrills/
#7 Secret Agent Man! (February 11, 2017)
I think this poem and video was popular because people see themselves in this. It’s time to rise up and quit being a secret agent!
#8 It Is Well (August 6, 2017)
This is a story about a very successful business man who had something much deeper when his world fell apart.
#9 Bare Spots In The Grass (April 22, 2017)…This story is really about having a goal in mind and not getting caught up in trivial things. https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/bare-spots-in-the-grass/
The 2017 Best Stories of Lightenload is here again! #10 Filling Our Tree With Love (April 2, 2017) is a story about a strong looking old oak tree that came crashing down. The oak tree was a lot like people with bitterness in their lives. https://lightenload.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/filling-our-tree-with-love/
Well it is Christmas time again and a similar question is heard in almost every family. “What do they need?” We may be talking about mom or dad, sister or brother but the question remains the same. We all want to get our loved ones things that they can use rather than a gift that ends up in a garage sale. The hardest ones to buy for are naturally the ones that buy what they need before you get the chance to get it for them for Christmas. Now that we are coming down to the last three weeks the calls will come more frequently. What are you getting so and so? Do you think they will like this? What size does so and so wear? Multiply this by the number of people most have to buy for and you get a yearly dilemma. Just as sure as Christmas day is coming it is also sure that you and I will be in on that conversation. It’s true that we want to buy that perfect present that will make our loved one happy and that they will use throughout the year.
We have to be careful at this time of the year that the present doesn’t get too big. I’m not referring to the physical present but to the mental present. We tend to emphasize the physical present and ignore the gift of our presence. We can be so spread out on Christmas day with different households to visit that our presence is lacking. Recently I heard a story of a member of a family mentioning that their dad should just have an open house where everyone could drop by when they wanted. Forget the timing when everyone gets together like the old days. We have other obligations and we can’t give you a time that we will be there. Unfortunately this attitude is not isolated. Many families struggle with the balance of Christmas with their own families and Christmas with their parents on both sides. The time constraints can become an obligation rather than a joy on Christmas day.
I remember so well as I’m sure you do too the joy of Christmas when we were young. The night before when we were so excited that we couldn’t get to sleep. Waking up early in the morning and waking your sibling up or vice versa. Walking into the living room while it was still dark and noticing that Santa Claus had been there. Waking up mom and dad even though I’m sure that they would really rather sleep. Then the thrill of opening presents and getting things you never dreamed you would get! Along with that was the thrill that mom and dad would have when they saw how the present made you happy. It was all there but the real thing that was there was love. It was there in the presents but it shined in their presence. I remember so many times dad would have to spend half of his Christmas assembling a gift that I received to make it usable. He delighted in doing it so that I could enjoy it.
Christmas it is said is for the young. While it is true that children get much more excited about presents than adults Christmas is for all of us but in different ways. I’m reminded of a kids TV show called Rugrats. Yes, when watching a show with your kids you can pick up valuable lessons. In this case Angelica who was an only child gets the news that her mommy is going to have another baby. Suddenly all of the talk is about the new baby and Angelica feels left out. She calls a therapist on the phone who got her attention from a call in show she had tuned in on TV. She tells him about the situation and without hesitation the therapist tells her she is being selfish. He let’s her know that she has to realize that the world does not revolve around her and she needs to think of others. Not hearing what she wants to hear Angelica quickly hangs up the phone.
Unfortunately in our own lives we may have the Angelica Syndrome. Is it really about mom or dad getting the perfect present or is it about the perfect son or daughter getting it for them. Is it about them or is it about us? If it is about them why do we so often have a timeline where we do the Christmas drop off and move on? Don’t we realize that the true thing that makes people happy is not what they get but what is given? The best thing that we can give every day and especially at Christmas is ourselves. This Christmas I urge you to take the stress off of yourself. Give the gift that you think they will like but most of all be involved in the whole process. Be caring and loving and understanding this Christmas. Give without any consideration of what you will get back. Give out of love and show your love by giving yourself. Remember what the Bible says. “The greatest gift is love.” Show your love this Christmas not with your presents but with your presence!
“What the he_ _ were you thinking?” It was the man who had just hit my car in the passenger door. There were two other people in his car that were unhurt. He had bounded out of his car quickly to give me his message. “You are in big trouble!”, he stated. I tried to apologize but he was hearing none of it. “You are in big trouble!”, he repeated. I tried to approach him but one of his passengers told me I had better just stay where I was. It was an unspoken threat that the driver had a temper and might attack me if I came closer. All of a sudden the driver as if on Que grabbed his neck. “Oh my neck”, he hollered for everyone there to hear.
I was so shook up I couldn’t hardly think. The glaring question he had asked was still ringing in my head. “What the He_ _ was I thinking?” Then the answer came to me. I was thinking the road was clear. I was not able to see. I had made the best decision I could under the circumstances. I was not a complete moron trying to kill myself like the driver obviously believed.
It was a normal morning in every way that day. I got up and did all my normal morning routines before work. Even the beginning drive was perfectly normal. The only thing different was the bright sunshine. I questioned in my mind going back to get sunglasses but dismissed the thought as time consuming. Pulling onto the main road the sun was so blinding it was hard to see. Normally I just travel a little ways on the main road and then cut through a neighborhood to the left as a short cut. This day’s plan would follow the same logic. The sun was still blinding me as I eased into the turning lane. It was so bright that I could hardly see in front of me. Looking back I wish I would have thought twice about taking the short cut. Blindly I eased into the turn lane.
Like I had done thousands of times before I looked to see the on coming traffic. With the blinding light in my eyes I made the decision that the way was clear. I started my turn and right away I knew it was a mistake. A horn sounded and squealing brakes let me know I wasn’t safe. Then I heard the crash. It was a loud thud and I found myself getting thrown to the other side of the car. Even with my seat belt on it was quite a jar. The first thing I noticed was the wind shield shattering and glass from the passenger side window flying at me. I also was pushed unmercifully into the steering wheel. My car which was hit in the intersection ended up on the other side of the road I was turning on against the curb. A quick assessment of my body told me that I was shook up but not seriously hurt.
As I was waiting there beside my car I heard sirens as emergency vehicles were heading our way. Someone walked up beside me and tapped me on the shoulder. It was my neighbor from across the street who had mercifully stopped to see if I was alright. He offered his phone for my use and I took hm up on it since my phone was not recharged. I called my work and my wife and then talked to the policeman who showed up. The ambulance driver wanted to know if I needed attention. I thought I was OK but had him check my ribs since they were a little sore from the impact into the steering wheel. It was determined that there was nothing broken. The tow truck came and took my car away. The ambulance took the other driver to the hospital as he was quick to jump on the cot. The policeman gave me the ticket and explained what I could do if I wanted to dispute it. He took control of the situation and was very professional and friendly.
My wife picked me up and took me home. There was glass inside my shoes, in my pants, in my shirt, everywhere there was little pieces of glass. I called my pastor and told him what happened. He asked me if I had forgiven myself? I told him with tears in my eyes that I did. He prayed for me and the situation. I am so thankful that there are people that really care about me. He told me that this morning when he woke up he felt in his spirit that something just wasn’t quite right. Just the night before in our Bible study on 1- John we talked about forgiving ourselves. We know that God will forgive if we ask but the hardest thing it seems is to forgive ourselves. I can truly tell you that the more we re-live moments in our lives the more we are apt to put the blame on ourselves. My message to you is not to do this. It is the work of the enemy to bring you down so don’t let him. It was comforting talking to my pastor and feeling a peace about the whole situation that everything would be alright.
My son came by and the three of us went to where my car was. It was decided that my car was beyond repair and our job was to clear everything out of it. The fact that I had accumulated many things in the trunk made it a harder job, but with the three of us we recovered what we could and threw the rest away. Re-visiting the car was a sad and glad experience. Seeing it in such a bad condition hurt me but also made me realize how lucky I was. That car was a symbol of Jesus to me. It didn’t deserve to be broken but through that brokenness it had protected me. Now I am alive because it took the punishment instead of me.
The next few days would be filled with trying to find another car and salvaging the old car. We went to a car dealer and they could sense that we wanted to buy something quickly. They asked for our price range and naturally gravitated to the upper end of what we were willing to pay. We test drove one of their cars and when we brought it back the squeeze play was on. The original lady had introduced us to her manager and now they were working as a team. We just didn’t feel right about the car and wanted to see more. Unfortunately the one we were shown was the only one in our price range and they were determined to see us buy it. The more they put the pressure on the more it just didn’t feel like the car that we were supposed to buy. I have learned that in everything it is a good idea to pray. Pray that we are doing what is best in God’s eyes. When we live by faith we’ve found that the right decisions are made because we are not leaning on our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6 states to “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”
A few days later we drove out of town to look at a car that was similar to my last one. Although the mileage was great the car’s body was a disappointment. Finally we test drove another car and it just felt right! We had prayed for God’s guidance and he seemed to be giving it to us! We liked everything about the car and ended up buying it! Step one was complete and now we turned our attention to step two. That would be salvaging the old car.
I spent a lot of time calling different junk yards and the like. I was very disappointed in the offers I was getting. Finally I got a hold of one that was a national company. Their price far exceeded anything I was offered and I agreed to sell it to them. We set a date and time that they would meet me and complete the deal. The man showed up with his tow truck to take the car away. We started a friendly conversation and I asked him a question that I never would have asked had it not been for the Soul Winning class we had recently went through. The man was named Kevin and I asked him if he had ever considered becoming a Christian. He dismissed it right off the bat although he mentioned that a good friend had been talking to him about it. I asked him if he would mind if I prayed with him and he seemed doubtful. A minute later he turned to me and said “OK, after I get this car loaded I will pray with you!” The three of us held hands and I had him repeat the sinners prayer after me. It was an amazing thing standing in a parking lot sharing the Lord and realizing that God was entering into another life!
Going back to our car I had a tremendous feeling of peace. I was amazed at what had just happened. I shook my head in amazement and thought a wonderful thought. “Lord there you go again! You’ve used something that seemed bad and made it into something very good! You have brought someone that I never would have met into my life and into your kingdom! This whole experience reinforced something that is so real to me. If we let go and let God he will do amazing things in our lives. He will take whatever the situation we are going through and use it for his glory! I am reminded of that scripture in I Thessalonians 5:18. It states “Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Another scripture that comes to mind is Romans 8:28. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Lord, thank you for my accident. Thank you that Kevin came to know you as his personal savior! I am humbled by your perfect plan for our lives even when our world seems to be crashing. Thank you for always loving me!
There is a footnote to this story. Recently I did go before a judge like the policeman offered. I was hoping that he would show compassion on me in light of the situation. It was kind of intimidating standing there telling my side of the story. I can humbly tell you that he did show compassion. It reminded me of how our loving God has mercy for all of us. We have all made mistakes and God is quick to forgive if we just ask. So let me offer this prayer on your behalf. Lord, whatever my reader is going through in their life let them know that you are with them. You are there to protect them and make everything work out for good. Let them know that after their world seems to be crashing all around them there is hope, love, and compassion because you love them. Give them peace and victory because you offer them accident forgiveness.
I used to play one of the late Jim Croce’s songs on my guitar and my mom would say it reminded her of one of my friends named Wayne. Wayne was on his own but always finding himself in unfortunate situations. Anyway the song’s title is Box #10 and it was on Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” album. The thing about this song was that it wasn’t a big hit. It was almost like Croce put the song in there to fill the album up. Yet that song said a lot about how things go wrong when we are not connected to God. Here is the lyrics and the chorus.
“Oh come on! It’s only me” Indeed it was only Vin Scully the long time announcer of the Los Angeles Dodgers. How long is long time? How about 67 years! Who does that? How many people have you ever heard of did a job for 67 years? After 67 years the day came when Vin was finally getting honored. The ceremony was before a Dodger game and the place was packed. Many of the people that Vin had touched through the years were there to speak. One of them was a great pitcher of yesterday named Sandy Koufax. Sandy had an up and down career. In his case it was more down and up. His first 5 years in the league he was a troubled left handed pitcher who barely won as many as he lost. Then miraculously he found himself and for 5 straight years was the best pitcher anyone had ever seen! Then at the tender baseball age of 30 Sandy retired. Arthritis in his left pitching arm had led to his elbow swelling up every time he pitched. It didn’t affect his great pitching, but made life very painful and Sandy had had enough.
Sandy now 81 talked about Vin and what he meant to him. He mentioned how the Dodgers had another great announcer before Vin in Red Barber. Sandy thought Red was pretty good but he rated Vin very good. They became friends through the years and Vin has a special place in Sandy’s heart. You see Sandy has lived his life after retirement far away from the public eye on purpose. Only as a tribute to Vin was Sandy willing to get before the public again. Sandy told the story about when the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. It was in those early home games that Sandy notices while pitching that the voice of Vin was all around him. Fans had paid Vin the ultimate tribute by bringing their transistor radio’s to the games. They were saying “We like to see the game with our own eyes, but we also like to hear the gentle voice of Vin describe it in his own way to us!” It was Vin describing Sandy behind the microphone as Sandy performed his greatest feats. In the 1965 World Series he described Sandy’s every movement on the mound as he maneuvered his way through the Twins order without his best curve ball. In fact he wasn’t able to get it over the plate at all and relied on his fast ball constantly. Vin led us up to the big moment and when Sandy recorded the final out Vin was silent. His style was to let the picture and the fan noise take over. It was telling a story and his silence invited us to drink in the moment.
After the game in the locker room Vin was interviewing Sandy about a statement he had said earlier. “Sandy, After the last game”, Vin began “you said you felt like you were one hundred years old. How do you feel now?” Sandy quickly answered his old friend “A hundred and one” That question in retrospect was what Vin was about. He wasn’t always trying to get the strategy out of the player as much as he was getting the person out of the player. We always hear announcers describing games, but Vin had a knack of describing people. Earlier that year Sandy had thrown a perfect game against the Cubs. Twenty Seven batters came up that day and twenty seven went down. It is rare for an announcer to be able to describe a perfect game, but ironically I am sure that Vin called many perfect games. They weren’t perfect in the baseball world. The pitcher invariably gives up a hit, walk, and run. Still the job Vin did in his broadcasts describing the action was perfect!
From the beginning Vin had his own style. Not only did he describe what was going on in the games, but he was a friend and a story teller. He did his homework and got to know the players personally. He would tell us the inside information about a players personal life and how it related to the big game. He could tell us what the player was probably thinking because he had asked them beforehand what they thought about in certain situations. Vin always described in kind of a sing song tone that was comforting and came across as someone we could trust. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There is an announcer broadcasting games in Japan that gives Vin that highest compliment. Even though his broadcasts are in Japanese if you listen you will notice that same sing song tone that Vin has used the last 67 years.
Through his many years of broadcasting Vin made numerous great calls. However the call he made in the 1988 World Series has been voted the greatest moment in baseball history. Kirk Gibson had carried the Dodgers to the Series with his great play in the N.L. Championship series that qualified them. In two of the games against the Mets he hit decisive home runs and he also made a great catch in the field. However during that series he sustained two crippling injuries. The first was to his left hamstring while stealing a base in game 5. In game 7 still hobbled by the hamstring he injured his right knee sliding into second. So as the Series began speculation was that the Dodgers best player through the season and championship series wouldn’t be able to play. Game one was winding down and the Oakland A’s were a run ahead of the Dodgers. Vin had been periodically talking about Gibson and how his injuries had him missing in action. At one point Vin was talking about how Gibson couldn’t possibly pinch hit. Gibson who was sitting in the locker room with the TV on was heard to say “like He_ _ I can’t!” He showed up on the bench and informed the manager he was available. The game winded down to it’s last out. The Dodgers had a man on first and two outs when Gibson limped up to the plate as a pinch hitter. Vin had stayed on the story and was taking us step by step into the narrative. Dennis Eckersley, the best relief pitcher in baseball quickly got two strikes on Gibson. Gibson feebly hit foul balls where he barely hit the ball. With each swing we could see how much pain he was in. The count reached three balls and two strikes. Then the miracle occurred. Gibson guessed that Eckersley would throw him a slider and he did. Gibson’s timing was just right as he hit the ball solid. Vin Scully described the hit in a very short manner. “High fly ball to right and she is gone!” Then there was silence as Gibson hobbled around the bases. As he got near second base he started pumping his arm in a heroic gesture. Vin spoke again, “In a year that has been so improbable the impossible has happened.” Then there was silence as Vin let the picture do the talking. Finally as Gibson had crossed the plate to the mob of his ecstatic teammates there was more silence as we drank in the moment and his comment. Then as the screen played the replay of Gibson hobbling around the bases Vin said “And now the only question was, could he make it around the bases unassisted?”
It seemed appropriate that Kevin Costner who starred in baseball movies Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For the Love of the Game would conclude the tribute with this moving speech to Vin Scully.
“We will miss you, my friend. We will miss you in our radio, in our cars, in our backyard. You’ve been a gift to Los Angeles and to baseball itself. It seems forever that you’ve been guiding us through your personal window into the game.
“How lucky we were that day in Brooklyn when the microphone passed into your hands. You were the chosen one, the skinny redhead who stood on the shoulders of the biggest kid, ready to look through the knothole in the fence to describe to us what was going on. You were better than a golden ticket. You invited us all to pull up a chair, spend the afternoon, then proceeded to walk us into the next century.”
“For 67 years you managed to fool us into believing you were just a sports announcer, when in fact you were really a poet, a wordsmith. It was a nice trick, and after almost seven decades, you might’ve thought we would’ve caught on. But now the masquerade is over and the jig is up. We’re all taking deep breaths Vin, and we’re all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we’re down to our last three outs with you.”
“You did it in a style so friendly and unique, so effortless that years from now we will not be able to explain it to those who never heard it for themselves. The game will not lose its way, but it loses a perspective, a singular voice that managed to capture a boy’s game played by man at the highest level. You grounded it in a way no one else ever has, trusting that you never had to make more of any one moment than it really was.”
“We’re all taking deep breaths, Vin,” Costner said. “We’re all struggling with our own emotions as we admit we’re down to our last three outs with you. You’re our George Bailey and it has been a wonderful life. You can’t blame us for trying to hold on to you for as long as we can. And shame on us if you ever have to pay for another meal in public.”
“We know that you have to move up to the press box. Don’t mind us as we turn in our seats to look up one more time. Forgive us our silly wave, our clumsy toast, our personal salute. And should your mind begin to wander as innings start to slip away, we already forgive you. If the memories become too thick, then just stop and look around. “You leave us and the game, Mr. Scully, but not without leaving a lasting impression, and not without taking a piece of our broken baseball heart.”
Vin was a voice of reason. When it was hard for Dodger fans to watch because of the tension of the situation, it was Vin with his ever pleasant voice that led them through. That is how God wants to lead us through trying situations. The Bible states that “My sheep hear my voice.” It is very peaceful to hear God’s voice and know that all is well no matter what is happening.
Sandy Koufax mentioned something that Vin prayed for before every World Series. “Lord, make every player a hero.” He knew the damage that a single play in an important game could have on a player’s life. He didn’t want goat horns put on anyone. That exemplifies the compassionate spirit of Vin Scully. In his own way he touched lives by his peaceful demeanor, friendship and story telling. Those are wonderful qualities for all of us to strive for as Christians. What a wonderful life we can live when we take this non selfish attitude. What a story we have to tell about Jesus’ undying love for all of us! We are no more than the vessels he is using for his glory. Likewise Vin was there to describe, promote, and help us enjoy the game. As the fans went crazy with their applause Vin in his own way brushed off the gratitude. As the fans cheered their loudest Vin wasn’t about to let their cheering define the moment. Awe Cmon”, he pleaded, “It’s only me.”