Sprained… October 21, 2012


Live from October 1st filming

I was thirty-eight years old, traveling on the road with my family, staying at a Mom-and-Pop motel with mis-matched towels, decor from the Nixon Administration and parking spaces set apart with a paint job that looked like it was done by a drunken sailor from the Caribbean.

We were late to our gig. I was trying to be the mature, energetic father leading his family out the door as efficiently as possible ( and consider–I was traveling with an eighteen-year-old, a fourteen-year-old and a four-year-old. As I stepped out the door of our room, I forgot that the drop to the sidewalk to the sidewalk was a little lower than I had recalled, so I did one of those stupid things we often do by trying to address my step-down. In the attempt to adjust my step, I slipped and sprained my ankle–very severely.

I sat on the ground for a moment and finally my two sons were able to pull me to my feet. I went in and sat on the bed. It was time to make a decision. Was I going to call the church and cancel the date? Was I going to go to the doctor and find out some form of bad news? Was I going to put my foot up on a pillow, ice it down and watch television? Or was I going to get to my feet, find a way to get to that church and do the gig?

That particular scenario–in diverse forms, areas and situations–has been the story of my life. I have no criticism for anyone who decides to cancel a date, go to the doctor or ease on a pillow and watch television. It’s just not me.

I got to my feet and with the help of my children and my wife, I hobbled to my car and made it over to the church, only to discover that the sanctuary was 125 years old and was up two flights of solid oak wooden stairs. I was looking for a break and instead got broken by new challenges. It took me nearly twenty minutes to get up those stairs. My children went ahead of me, unloaded the equipment and kept passing me over and over again as they carried things up the stairs with their youthful zeal. I inched my way along like I was crawling on razor blades.

I got to the top of the stairs and sat down on the back pew, allowed my family to put together all the equipment, putting my foot up on the pew in front of me. Gradually, I was given a sense of relief. My leg actually went numb. I was completely free of pain–that is, as long as I agreed not to walk on it.

But walk I did. Matter of fact, I stood on it for two hours while I played piano, sang, taught and then, during a particularly sweet time of fellowship, prayed for about thirty-five or forty people who came up seeking wisdom, guidance and a touch from God.

As the evening wore on, my leg occasionally fell asleep, so I had to bounce it against the floor to wake it up so I wouldn’t accidentally fall over. There are two things I remember from that evening: First was the amazing grace that was imparted to me, allowing me to finish out my responsibilities and make it back to my room for a beautiful night of rest. The second thing that sticks in my mind from that night was that even though I was hobbling around, none of the congregation seemed to be aware of my affliction or terribly concerned about my limping. They were focused.

Yes–they were focused on their own needs. I know there are some people who would find that horrible or insensitive. I disagree. God gave me the ability, the tenacity and the mercy to do that show so I could help someone.

Ever since then I have used that night to remind myself that life is always a decision–and usually there are three choices: you can decide to wait, you can decide to ignore, or you can decide to do.

Some people think that waiting is smart, and it might seem that way if there was a guarantee that opportunity actually knocks more than once.

Other folks will insist that variety and possibility just don’t ever come their way, when what they have really done is establish a lifestyle which filters out anything that is foreign to their simple experience.

I have been a person who decides to do. Even though I’ve had failures and experienced set-backs, I have never regretted setting into practice what I preach instead of just printing a book or sharing a sermon about my theories.

It took me six weeks for my leg to heal from the injury that happened that evening so many years ago. I didn’t miss a date. Most of them were done in pain, but today I don’t remember the pain, only the fact that something was accomplished and adversity was overcome.

Most of our lives are sprained. Just like my leg, we have plenty of reason to call ahead and cancel our plans. Yet, life is just too short a span to be spent wondering what you missed. Yes, life is brief, so you might as well use all the space available, because there are no guarantees that you will ever get another crack.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

I’m Really Not Sure… October 15, 2012


Live from October 1st filming

I do believe that the Apostle Paul was mistaken.

He insisted that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Instead, he contended that the earthly journey is more or less we humans being stuck in a comic battle between good and evil. You’re welcome to agree with him if you so desire. I don’t.

My discovery of life on terra firma is that we are dealing with flesh and blood issues. Bluntly…us. Appetites, genetics, weaknesses, insecurities, frustrations, indignities, victories, defeats… and of course, worst of all…pernicious apathy.

For about fifteen years I’ve been struggling with leg and knee pain. There are times when it’s been worse than others, but for years, I have been the chooser of the closest parking space at the shopping mall.

I am not lazy. I have crisscrossed the country at least a dozen times, shared thousands of shows in front of tens of thousands of people and marched through airports to get to those destinations–most of the time, in some sort of pain. It’s a flesh and blood issue–and it happens to be mine.

Since January and the passing of my sixtieth birthday, the problem has settled in as a permanent occupant of my daily schedule. In the past two weeks it has gotten even worse than that. Finally, I found myself basically unable to walk–cramped up and with the dark notion that I was finished and would need to seek other ways to express my mission, my message and my heart.

You see, that’s more of that flesh and blood problem. It doesn’t matter how many times we have seen miracles, God move, or the universe tip a little bit to the right to our advantage. For some reason, we all tend to go a little dark whenever anything lands in our toy box and we don’t know exactly how to play with it.

Matter of fact, I was ready to cancel all of my dates last week and “nurse myself back to good health.” Can I tell you something truthfully? I have never gotten over any ailment by lying around. Even when I have a cold, I am better off getting up, moving and redistributing the mucus than I am by letting it settle into my chest, as I pretend to recuperate. I have sprained my ankle, iced it and rested it–but the first time I stepped down on it, it still felt sprained. I don’t know how long it would take to get better laying down on the job.

So I woke up in the middle of the night–early Thursday morning, actually–and realized that my calling is not to sit in a motel room, prop my feet up and lament not being able to go out and share. I decided to rent a wheelchair. I had no idea what I was doing.

I really wasn’t sure.

Now, some people, when they’re not sure, feel they have walked into a deep, dark cave and they’re frightened of the attack of blood-sucking bats. I don’t feel that way. Matter of fact, sometimes I think it’s impossible to know what you really have until you lose what you don’t need.

When I went to the church in Fremont on Sunday morning and was rolled in in my wheelchair, I was convinced that everybody in the world was turning his head to peer at the freak. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I have never been embraced, loved, assisted, confided in and included as part of a family the way I was yesterday. In both the church in Fremont and the church Sunday night, in Port Clinton, the folks rallied around me and helped me do whatever it is that I do–and never were they ashamed of my lacking.

I’m really not sure. You see what I mean? If I had not come to this crisis in my life, would I ever have set in motion a plan to try to rectify my chronic pain? Would I ever have gone on a food regimen again–now in my eighth day–which is already helping both my energy and my blood sugar? Would I ever have made myself vulnerable enough that my needfulness gave me the space for humanity to enter without apologizing for intruding? Would I ever have planned every step of my day so meticulously because I was learning my wheels?

I’m really not sure you can live a successful human life if hell is your fall guy and heaven is your only safe place. Sometimes the best way for God to love you is to allow you to reap the fruit of your labors–and see if you can’t grow out of your pain instead of just miraculously relieving it.

I’m driving to Indianapolis today. I feel absolutely great–except my legs just don’t want to balance and help me walk. I’m not sad; I am not looking for demons which have caused this interruption. And I certainly am not blaming God for failing to deliver my latest care package of grace.

What I am doing is stopping to realize that there is nothing happening to me right now that isn’t better than if I were still hobbling along, pretending I was all right, but wracked with pain.

  • How can God express His love if He’s not allowing circumstances to generate a better world for me?
  • How can God be God and not honor the principles of His own creation?
  • And how can God be God if the resolution to my situation is not improving my station?

It’s a powerful day, my friend.

I’m really not sure–and in the midst of that unsureness, I find the origins of my joy.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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