Thursday, November 23, 2006

An Open Letter To God...

Dear Abba,

I just want to take a few moments in the midst of this day to say thank you. Yes, it is Thanks Giving Day. I deeply hope that I do not confine my thanking you to this Thursday in November. But anyway, here is what I want to say to You...

*Thank you, Abba, for the gift of Your Son. Jesus, you mean everything to me. You alone cause life and this world to make sense.

*I am so grateful for my bride. My wife. You made her just for me! She amazes me every day that she gets up and kisses me good morning. I don't know why she puts up with this ADHD type person but she does. And I am forever in her debt. (Honey, I loved you long before you ever tackled me!)

*My three kids are among your greatest gifts that I have ever received. Kelli, Scott and Chris. Abba, I could not have designed better kids if I had tried. And now they are all adults. Very good adults at that. Tonight I just sat and watched them with the wonder that only a father can feel as he sees the children that began as little rug rats turn into God lovers.

*And then there is Joe, Amanda and Laura. Laura and Topher have been together for almost one year now, Abba. She seems like a part of our family. When she walks in the door I just automatically smile! And she actually laughs at my jokes! Traveling with her to South Carolina last summer was one of the highlights of my year! Oh, and Abba ... she didn't really mean what she did in front of the Lifeway store in Knoxville. Ok, ok, she did mean it. You are God and you already knew that. But I have to think you understand! And if not ... please just forgive her! (You owe me, Bella...) And then there is my Amanda. You know, Abba, she is about to become my actual honest-to-gosh daughter-in-law. That is so incredible! She and Scott have walked together over the long haul already. They are so made for each other! I had so much fun with her yesterday when we just sat and talked for well over an hour. And then our late night White Castle topped off a perfect day. She's right ... we had quality time! Abba, I love her like my own daughter. And, as you know, I really, really love my own daughter. Oh man. God, I will always cherish the moment that I placed my daughter's arm into Joe's. That was a very good day. He has loved and adored her as I knew he would. To watch them serve you, build a home together, minister to and love kids and their church, well it's almost too much to believe. Wow. And together they bring me to the next reason I thank you today...

*Elle Parker McGill. Oh Abba, how I have fallen head over heels in love with my granddaughter. All I have to do is to smile at her and she almost always smiles back! What a delight to hold her and feel her grab one of my fingers with her fist. She is amazing! So trusting. So happy. Ok, most of the time. There are moments. But she gets over them! I love this little lady, Abba. Thank you so very much for creating her and putting her in our family. We will do all we can to point her toward you ... her truest Daddy.

*Thank you, Abba, for twenty three and two thirds years to serve you by loving teenagers at FBCB. I cannot believe that I only have one Sunday morning left and then I will be finished there. There are so many memories. Centrifuges. Mission trips. JPL's. Willow Creek Retreats. Time alone with individual kids as they sought out opportunities to grow closer to you. Kids that you allowed me to watch go into the ministry themselves. Oh God, it is all just too much! My cup is over flowing! Thank you for this gift! When my body is dead to this world ministry and service will still go on through these (roughly) twenty young men and women you have allowed me to love, disciple and send into ministry. I am humbled, Abba.

*And how I thank you for the future. It is true that if my life on planet earth were to end right now I would call it a raging success. Not because I am so good. No, it is because You are so faithful! I do not know what is next on Your agenda for my life. A kind church has allowed me to have three months to rest, heal, seek you and find the doorway you would direct me through. Thank you, Abba. Such a kindness!

Well I could do this all night. There are so many friends. So many special people in my life that are there because you brought us together. Some live here. Some live on the left side of the country, some on the right. But I am rich in friendships. My brother and his lovely family are chief among them. Thank you, Abba, for Jim, Edwina and Jackie! Thank you for Jason, Tanya, and their families. Thank you for Dave, Lynda, Bob, Cindy, Dave, Barb, Reda,Tammy, Brad, Sheri, Judy, Jim (my other "bro",) Alisha (my newest sister!) Diane, Steve, Theresa, Katie, Jeff, Jeannie, Jeffy, Jim, Sandy, Ruth, Ronn B., Ron W., "Big Steve" and "Big 'Nita," Matt, Tim, Danny, Cheryl, Larry, Frank, Ed, Mindy, Patti, Rick, Steve, Shannon, Kristi, Lisa, Scott, Bill, Eric, Stephanie, Gary, Cathy, Beth, and even Bailey. And of course, every kid in a very special youth group that will probably be my last one. I love each of them as You have told me to. And every one that came before them. I could go on and on and on and on. There is neither time nor space. But Abba ... I am rich. You have made me rich through the blessings I have received from You.

And I can never, never say it loud enough, long enough or frequently enough. Thank you, Abba. For everything. The crowns that are waiting and the scars that are healing. The pleasure and the pain. The Word that keeps me pointed in the right direction. The blood that flowed. The thorns. The nails. The spear. The empty tomb. The fish you cooked for the disciples breakfast. The acension. And thank you for loving this man. Me. Really, tangibly, audibly, visually, shockingly.

I will praise you as long as their is breath in my lungs. And when the breath is at last gone I will arrive in Your presence and praise you all the louder as I lay at your feet.

Abba ... Jesus ... Holy Spirit ... Thank You. I love you.

Your child....


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