From: Greg Tyler \ Internet: (email@example.com)
To: Robert Kennedy \ Internet: (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: god experience
I hope this is something you can use. I'd appreciate your feedback, if you do feedback ... great web site. Good work!
By GREG TYLER
Kneeling can be a state of mind.
This has occurred to me on more than one occasion, but never more strongly than on a recent trip I took to Ridgecrest, N.C. There I knelt in front of a cross in the Prayer Garden, a cozy, tree-canopied garden at the Baptist camp. Twice in my life this spot has been a crucial place of meditation and prayer.
In the garden there is a small cross, maybe three-feet high, with wooden steps at the base from which to kneel and pray. This visit was Thanksgiving Day, 1995. Normally, Ridgecrest is chock-full of Christians spending time there for various seminars and worship-related events, but during this visit the camp did not appear to be in use. No one was in the Prayer Garden that day. And I knelt before the small cross with my four-year-old son, James, and we prayed - or I prayed, and he listened.
Iım 36 now, and when I was 12 years old I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in that very garden, at that very spot, in that very position. Kneeling there 24 years later with my son, I felt a circle of sorts had been completed, or begun. I felt as though God was smiling on this image.
The premise that kneeling is a state of mind surrounded me as I reflected on the two-and-a-half decades I had spent walking away, even running, and sometimes attacking God and Christianity since that evening when I first humbly knelt in front of the little cross at Ridgecrest.
These days, Iım a newspaper editor at a small daily in Aiken, SC., and during the past 18 months or so, I have experienced what you might call a spiritual revitalization. I now have a renewed relationship with God, a resulting fresh and deeply enriched relationship with my wife and son and other family members, a wonderful church home and a healed heart - a heart now open to Godıs will in my life.
Iım beginning to arrive at a sense that I am making an important individualized journey, at the same time never alone, willfully wanting God to steer my ship of life. Now Iıve come to feel freed by allowing Him to hold me tightly.
This renewal started Dec. 17, 1994, when I was rushed to the local emergency room in the midst of a serious heart attack. Heart attacks will do that to you - make you start thinking about God in a favorable light, that is. I donıt mean to convey just another story about a person finding God in a hospital, although it does happen quite frequently and those are praiseworthy stories. But that night of being rushed into emergency angioplasty, and subsequent heart treatments of a similar nature, have been key reference points to my return to worship and obedience to our loving, living and gracious Lord. You see, the "emergencyness" of the situation made me realize, or re-realize, that my destiny was in Godıs hands. Although I had led a life of absolute chaos, God never considered me a lesser child. But I had to make the choice to accept His love, and move onward, or not. While on the operating table I asked God to forgive me for my years of snide disobedience. I asked His mercy, and I was spared. And by the way, I did all this very loudly, and in clear earshot of all the medical staff.
"I think your husband has gotten religion," said Dr. David Cundey, my cardiologist, as he spoke with my wife as she waited in the hospital lobby. But in truth, like The Prodigal Son, I was just hoping I could come home.
At age 36, I thought a heart attack was rather unusual, and I suppose it is. But for years I had been asking for it. To summarize, I weighed 345 pounds at the time I was hospitalized (Iım down to about 280 now), and at one time had weighed as much as 450 pounds. I smoked an average of two packs of cigarettes a day. I drank very heavily, and almost always it was hard liquor. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, with a particular penchant for lots of beef and pork.
Whatıs more, stress was my middle name, and I pushed myself in my profession. Despite my grotesque personal habits, as well as a lack of a college journalism degree, by the age of 35 I had 15 solid years of newspaper experience writing and editing, as well as in newsroom management. I was something of a self-taught whiz at the newspaper biz, or so I used to enjoy thinking.
Tick ... tick ... tick. My heart attack shouldnıt have surprised me one iota.
Spiritually, I was already dead, but thought I was a truly wise, insightful character. Basically, I was just a cynic (and of course, cynics know everything) with just slightly above-average intelligence. As it turns out, I had learned just enough philosophy, metaphysics, and religious dogma to qualify, by comparison, to a green or brown belt in karate. I knew just enough to get myself killed.
As for Christianity, I thought it was for those with small minds ... wilted of will ... those who wanted packaged, simplistic answers to the critical questions relating to humanity ... those who could not comprehend the "higher" ruminations of the great philosophers ... those who wanted to just be a part of a group that had decided they were "right" by the strength of their numbers.
To me, to believe in Christianity was a sign of weakness, and an unwillingness to face the inevitable brutal truth that we all are simple biological units destined to procreate, consume and die. I believed humans created God, as well as the notion of an everlasting life, simply to alleviate the fear of death. I did not believe, and would sneer at those who did, that God created man, loves man, and loves individuals.
I had forgotten that I once knelt and prayed at Ridgecrest. I had forgotten that I had earnestly believed my prayer for salvation that I offered the Lord many years ago. I chose not to recall that I once knew the simplicity and magnificent omniscience of grace.
It all seems so idiotic now. I mean, if a kid flying a kite lets the string fly loose, it crashes. A kite flies by the force of being restrained and guided. Itıs just that simple, and this I forgot, disregarded and fought for nearly 25 years.
The willingness to be held, and yes, restrained to a degree, is what I am getting at when I say kneeling is a state of mind. Itıs good to actually do some real physical kneeling too, so donıt get me wrong on that point.
But God has given us great freedom by setting up some boundaries to respect, and I for one see those boundaries as facets of His remarkable grace.
Trying to arrange my own life based on my will alone got me nowhere. Come to think of it, thatıs not entirely true. It got me in a hospital about to leave a wonderful woman widowed and a four-year-old boy fatherless. It got me dependent on alcohol and various other substances throughout my life. It caused me to choose the dangerous alternative whenever I was faced with alternatives: Iıve been in four automobile wrecks - four I remember anyway - after which I should have been buried. Iım 36 and have had three invasive cardiac procedures (my bill of health is quite good at the moment, thank God). I once had a size 60-inch waistline (now itıs 44-inch; Iım still not a little fella).
So now that God has given me yet another chance, is everything perfect? Do I now have all the answers to all my daily cares? Do I know the secrets of the universe? Certainly, resoundingly, no, no, and no! But I do have a renewed measure of faith. God has never jerked His arms out from under me and let me fall completely into the mire.
Of course, I am still pulled in ways contrary to my best interests, and contrary to Godıs will. In Romans, Chapter 7, Paul refers to the same tendency in himself. We all struggle with imperfection, doubts, and plain old sin. Iım pretty wary of those who would claim otherwise.
So these days - these wonderful days I have been blessed with - I am trying to approach life from a kneeling posture, actually a kneeling mindset. A thankful mindset.
As Paul wrote in Titus 3:3-5, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures ... But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us ... because of His mercy. (NIV)"
I know my son is very young, but if I can teach him anything at all about his approach to life as his young spirit matures, my lesson of love would be, "Kneel, son. Kneel."
"We fly by the force of being held." See the Cedar Creek Church Home Page, Aiken, S.C.
Thank you very much for your response to SoCoOL ... Sonoma County ONLINE ... and Your God Experience.
This is an OUTSTANDING LETTER ... to which I will reply in detail in the near future. For now, I wanted to thank you for sending it and to tell you that it will be PUBLISHED very shortly.
Among other things that I will say about this letter is ... " SEE the work that is being performed IN YOU !
If you access the success pages on Sonoma County ONLINE you will see the slow revelation of what I and others have called the Triangle of Success. Among other things that it says is that there is a POWER in the Universe ... that a person can "use" ... to become better at anything. In your life experience you have discovered, not only that that power exists, but WHO that power is. By acknowledging that power ... by working and co-operating with it ... to the best of your ability ... you make it possible for that power to perform great deeds. The more you do it ... the better you get.
What I will say to others is .... walk a mile in those shoes ... The two commandments shared by Jesus were to love God above all things .... LOVE THAT POWER ... and then LOVE others as you LOVE yourself. Two THINGS .... the power ... and the beings that demonstrate it ... you and they. If WE WILL DO THAT ... WALK A MILE IN THE SHOES THAT GOD IS "USING" ... to demonstrate HIS/HER POWER ... then we get the BENEFIT of THAT EXPERIENCE ... THAT GROWTH ... and our own RECOGNITION of the POWER of THAT POWER ... GROWS and MULTIPLIES.
Thank you my friend for sharing your experience .... thank you for giving us the opportunity to MULTIPLY IT !!!