Ford Every Stream … August 12, 2012

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His name was Gerald Ford. He was a great American. I define that distinction as any politician who is able to escape the bonds of the party line to do what is really right for the country.

He became President of our nation after Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace. He took over a country preoccupied with Watergate, sick to death of the remnants of Viet Nam and cynical about anyone who would ever campaign for a vote.

He had some remarkable achievements.

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Fran...

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Français : Gerald Ford, premier portrait officiel du Président américain, (1974). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First–he pardoned Nixon. The last thing in the world the United States needed was to put a former President on trial for felony charges. It was also a bold move because he attacked someone from his own party and told him he was guilty and in need of absolution.He was President when we finally dislodged ourselves from Indochina and the Viet Nam war. He managed to rally the spirit of our country for the celebration of a beautiful bicentennial in 1976–only fourteen months after the removal of Nixon. He was married to a woman named Betty, who was very honest about her weaknesses, and the clinic she began (Betty Ford Clinic) is still a symbol for rehabilitation for those who find themselves trapped in some form of addiction.

He did one remarkable thing that we must always honor him for and hopefully, learn from ourselves. He kept things from getting worse.

Sometimes we forget that the only path available to us is to make a courageous stand and keep things from getting worse.

I am America. The reason I say that is that my story parallels what has happened in this country during the past four years. In 2008, I had a very expensive house on a lake in Tennessee, escalating in value at what should have been considered an alarming rate. There was no reason for ME to be alarmed–after all, I was getting rich. I was living beyond my means, utilizing an abundance of credit cards to fund the fantasy. I was involved with many vanity projects in the sense that I was throwing money into efforts to substantiate their importance and confirm their value.

I had recently lost eighty-five pounds, landing at my new fighting weight and felt proud. I had health insurance, which allowed me to go to the doctor four times a year, where I was able to confirm my present status of unhealthiness. And then suddenly, like millions of other Americans, it was all gone.

I sit here four years later without my house, without credit cards, having lost no additional weight (though I have continued to try) and devoid of any cash to pursue vanity. I also do not have health insurance, so my present physical well-being is an intriguing mixture of the remains of my medical history mingled with my faith in God.

People would say that I am worse off than I was in 2008. They would be wrong.

My life now is vacant of deception, worry, misrepresentation and I have been present while all the bubbles have been burst. What is left to me is the ability to understand that I have taken this journey with the rest of my countrymen and have come out the other end praising God that it wasn’t worse.

It has legitimized my efforts. It has made what I pursue realistic instead of fantastic. Now, every day I have the honor of writing this essay for the Internet which you are now reading, I put out a weekly letter of fellowship weekly to several hundred pastors across the country and I interact with hundreds of people face-to-face, sharing my heart and listening to theirs.

It is clean, pure of heart and it is real. When I reach into my wallet, the contents of that leather pouch is mine and not partially owned by Bank of America.

So as we determine the future of our lives and our country, let me present to you to four questions that really confirm progress.

1. What has really taken place? In my case, I went from being a puffed-up poet funded by credit, to a traveling artisan who presses flesh and interacts in a human way with human beings.

2. Is it anything of what I expected? Once again, I return to myself. Life is never what we expect, but occasionally is gracious enough to allow some of our ideas to be included. In other words, there have been many surprises but the greatest gift to me over the past four years has been the ability to energize my own mission.

3. What have I learned? Volumes. First of all, I learned that you can maintain your weight and still become healthier by increasing exercise and improving the quality of your nutrition. I learned that merely writing something is not the same as blessing the world around you. I learned that simplicity is powerful when it’s paid for and within your abilities.

4. What can I use going forward? I can use everything that does not demand that I become presumptuous. That is the problem with our country. We are a presumptuous lot. We presume superiority, we presume finance, we presume spirituality and we presume manifest destiny. All of these things are available to us but they do require our humble involvement.

I now know in my life what works and what doesn’t. The only question that remains is, will I pursue the functioning parts or habitually insist on chasing evaporated dreams?

We can learn a lot from Gerald Ford. Although he was never elected to the Presidency and failed to gain the office in the 1976 election, he stepped in a gap and kept things from getting worse.

For after all, in the case of a gun shot wound, the first step to healing is to stop the bleeding. I don’t know about you–this past four years has helped me to stop the bleeding.

I am grateful.

 

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