It’s been one month and seven thousand miles since my last post. The past thirty days I’ve traveled more than miles, I’ve walked through the valley of the shadow of death and soared on eagles’ wing.
It started out a normal Sunday morning. On our way to church, everything calm and peaceful. And then…it wasn’t.
Everything happened at once. The voice message interrupted our quiet drive alerting that Dad suffered a heart attack and we should leave for Oklahoma immediately. My three year old granddaughter’s voice echoed from the back seat as though from a distant canyon, “I want a treat, I want a treat, I want a treat.” My mind was spinning like the blue lights following me. I eased into parking lot for every church member to witness me pulled over by the highway patrol.
And so it began.
Our trip to Muskogee Oklahoma VA hospital was a whirlwind in the night. I imagined my next post would be about Dad swapping fishing stories with Saint Peter and Jonah.
Peter has a great story about walking on water and Jonah about catching a whale (or some big fish) by using himself as bait. My dad’s caught thousands of fish. Salt water and fresh, if it swims, he’s fished for it. But the story I remember the most is one he’d like me to forget. (So, don't tell him I told you)
Fishing The Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi TX., we tied little boat to big pier called The Fina Docks. I like to fish, just fish, catch- not so much. I caught more with camera than hook as Porpoise rolled playfully and dangerously close to our small craft. Dad likes to catch. And he went to catching.
At first I didn’t notice he hooked something big. He eased out of boat and onto concrete pier to better land whatever he was wrestling. Reeling and resting, attempting to tire the beast. But no rest would be given. As soon as he quit reeling the pole would bend, line would peel and Dad would reel. He wouldn’t quit. We all knew that.
Once playing softball Dad hit a line drive that drove him to the hospital. The tag at second base broke his knee. The second baseman claimed he made the tag. Dad claimed he didn’t. The agony of defeat trumped the agony of the knee. Dad yelled out the back window of hospital bound vehicle, “I was safe get someone on second to take my place. I was safe, I WAS SAFE.” The knee healed sooner than pain from losing spot on base. To this day he contends “I was safe.” His competitive nature won’t let him quit.
Weary and worn he landed the beast. He is likely the only man who has ever landed one of these with rod and reel. If it’s ever been done, I’m sure it’s been rare. He’s fought harder and longer fights but nothing compared to landing this.
The fight adds value to the prize. What is won at the end of the race is of little value without a race. The blue ribbon, the trophy, the gold buckle or medal in and of itself is worth little without the fight, the enduring struggle preceding the prize. The long hours of training give meaning to the prize. A day well spent makes the sunset more sweet. A race well run makes the victory lap worth taking, the trophy worth displaying.
In life journeying well is the destination.
Whatever the prize at the end of the day if we’ve traveled well it is valuable. Even when we drop the ball, get bucked off or miss the mark if we still have breath we still have a choice to finish well. No matter where you are or what you’ve done you have the choice to finish well.
The right to choose doesn’t make what you choose right.
Finishing well is to choose to live in such a way that you know you will hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of the Lord.”
The prize is living rather than what life brings.
Life throws curve balls we can’t see. We see through a glass darkly. Like the reason I was pulled over by the highway patrol; window glass too dark. If I knew all that was ahead I might just stay home. If Dad knew his struggle would end with him pulling up the door to a jeep he most likely would have cut the line and given up the fight.
But we don’t know. And so we go.
Well aware that we may sink or swim we venture out of the boat, because we might just walk on water…
To be continued.