The last day of 2016
Tomorrow, everyone starts anew
A time for reflection
What has passed
What is to come
It is difficult to digest the last 525,600 minutes. My favorite time of year is now, reflecting on what has happened these past 364 days and considering how to improve the next 365. As I look back on all of the opportunities I have been given, I can't help but ponder some of the chances that I have let slip through my fingers; chances to be a better husband, father, son, brother in Christ to my fellow believers. We shouldn't dwell on things passed, simply use them for fuel as we welcome in a new year. Many are saying, "I hope this year is better than the last," but my question is, "Why did you not make the most of the time you were given?" What holds us back from doing our utmost since we all have indeed been given the same amount of time? I can only blame myself for not making the most of every second available to me. The same second that is available to everyone else...
As I peer out the front window of our home, this home we have been in for the last 364 days (x3 years prior) I feel a sense of accomplishment. Accomplishment for keeping this house standing and the heat on and the electricity running for another year. I look at our vehicles parked outside and I reminisce about the green Jeep Cherokee that is no longer dripping small spots of fluid onto the pavement; replaced by a white F150 with United Rentals logos on the sides and rear. I think back to my adolescence and try to understand how I have been so fortunate to wind up in the position I currently hold. A good paying job, a vehicle to drive, and even gas that is paid for by my company. How can I be so fortunate when others are not? Why have I been chosen to be among the top 1% in the world? I think of all the people I have met over this past year and consider their circumstances - many less fortunate, many more fortunate; some trying to get by and others striving ahead to greatness. Here are a few people that I have had the good fortune to rub shoulders with over this past year, most of these have been "chance" meet ups during the some 10,000 miles I put on the Honda Odyssey, others are just connections I have made through my wife, or friends of friends. I have bolded some of my favorite stories for easy reading.
January 23 - Uber passenger whose Dad passed away 7-8 years ago and I was fortunate enough to pray with him.
Feb 2 - a perfectly timed Uber drop off gave me the opportunity to drive the kicker of the IU football team. An upstanding young man and I wish him the best of luck with his future career, in football, or otherwise.
Feb 7 - another divinely inspired Uber pick up, this time at Zoobilation, the annual gathering of the "who's who" in Indianapolis. I got the privilege of driving an Indy Car driver. Had a wonderful conversation about racing and church. Wishing you the best of luck this upcoming season!
April 17 - drove former Purdue star, current Minnesota Timberwolves player.
April 21-24 a life changing experience meeting new brothers in Christ at Red River Gorge, KY. https://the4thmusketeer.org/xcc/impressions
May 7 - driving former students that I taught at Park Tudor 5 years ago! JP! Crazy how great God's timing is!
June 4 - My ever wondering friend "J" who is still out there somewhere. After a perfectly timed drop off at Eagle Creek Golf Course, I was able to drive "J" out to the highway to continue his journey. He was walking through Zionsville, hitch hiking from Florida to Canada because of a calling he felt from God. I gave him my number and some supplies for the road. I hope I get to hear all of the amazing work that God did on this journey. I pray for you often my friend and brother. Until we meet again...
July 24 - pickup at Klipsch after a concert; turns out the passengers are good friends with my buddy M.B. and is a teacher in my former school district of Beech Grove. I scratch my head at how out of 24,000+ people, I can get a ride so pre-ordained and people say "it's a coincidence."
August 12 - some of my favorite regulars telling me they are contemplating divorce; praying feverishly for them for a month and despite my attempts, them still splitting. My heart still breaks for them and their family, but I know it's in God's hands.
September 28 - "the incident" on our street....5 hours away from home and feeling helpless for my family...firmly planting the roots that God either causes or allows all things to happen and that he is there with us each step of the way. I may not ever know why He allowed our family to experience this, but I hope some day we can use this to help someone in need.
October 23 - meeting and praying with a new brother in Christ "V" after a somewhat sticky situation in Broad Ripple. I was happy to be where I was, when I was, so I could minister to him and share with him some "not so smart" marriage decisions I had made. Sometimes our worst decisions make the best advice for others! This was another divinely inspired trip as I was not even supposed to be out driving at that time, but because of an airport pickup that didn't quite work out, I was in the right place at the right time!
October 24 - praying to God, "I don't really want to drive anyone else tonight, but I will if you need me to." ...go online 3 blocks from home, and get a request from Lebanon (18 minutes away!) Turns out the passenger crashed their car on the highway and needed a ride home to BLOOMINGTON! Did I mention this was a 4:15am pickup? That was a long night, finally arrived back home around 6:30? Was happy I was online and available to give a much needed ride back despite a lack of Zzz's.
November - Picking up "strangers," although I don't believe in such things! And hearing their amazing life stories...my friend "K" who I picked up downtown. I got a request but the passenger canceled, which put me on that particular street where I wasn't planning on going. "K" needed a ride across town and on the way I found out she was using heroin and prostituting to support her habit. I have been able to stay in contact with her, but unfortunately no progress on kicking the habit yet. I am confident that God will redeem her from her situation and use her to rescue others.
November 25 - having some "real talk" with "M" in Broad Ripple about marriage and pregnancy. Still praying for you and your wife. Remember, God sees the whole picture, we see a small piece of the puzzle while we live in the day-to-day.
December 30 - driving and wanting to be home...ask God for someone to share his love with, getting to drive "S" back to her soon to be in-laws place from a party in Zionsville. She's getting married in 2017 and is active in her church and faith. Praying for everything to run smoothly and that pre-marriage classes go well and bring you closer together. Best of luck! Remember, "there is no plan B!"
Other happenings with no specific date or they happened so often that it's impossible to pin down just 1 occurrence:
- Extra tips from customers when the gas light is on and the bank account is running close to "E"
- Countless conversations with people about God, and his son Jesus. Many questions that non-believers have asked that have made me look deeper into my own faith and build a greater love and understanding of what Jesus means in my life.
- Having the opportunity to minister to young men on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
- Meeting future "regulars," and doing God's work in their life, unbeknownst to me - "N" one of my Zionsville bartender regulars. Always a pleasure to see you my friend.
- Getting an opportunity to pray with people on marriage, family, moving, life, boyfriends/girlfriends, money, anything and everything else...
- I must give a big shout out and "thank you" to my good friend M.B. for keeping me out on the road to make the "big money" when I wanted to go home, for praying with me when needed, and most of all just keeping me company while out and about in the city. I am praying for you, your family, and that 2017 would bring us more prosperity and opportunities to serve God than we could ever imagine.
This year has not been without heartache and struggle. We have had ups and downs as a family, had friends move away, and people come in and out of our lives. I'm sure the cycle of life will continue until God decides it is time for us to leave this planet. Until then, my hope rests in Jesus and the promises that he not only makes, but keeps. My aim for 2017 is Joshua's promise in chapter 24, verse 15.
Dear Abba, Father. You have allowed me to experience so much this past year. Thank you. Thank you for the people, circumstances, and situations that you have brought into my life. I know all good and perfect things are from you (James 1:17). Thank you for being by my side and going before me. Thank you for carrying me through situations where I had no authority or power. You are amazing. You are unbelievable. I pray that in this new year, you would allow me to draw nearer to you, so I can love my friends and family better, share your love with more people, and ultimately live a life that is inviting to others. Not for my benefit, but for your glory. Always and forever. Amen.