Our bellies are full and Thanksgiving day is over and we reflect. For some it may have been the best day ever with family and all the things we truly are grateful for. In our household this year it was one of the better ones but difficult breaking bread with my mother-in-law suffering with stage 4 dementia. For others it may have been the worst ever. Seeing all the happy Facebook posts from people can be depressing if your situation is not so hot. It is so easy to get in the Why Me syndrome and spiral downward with negative.
Why is my family so difficult and everyone so sensitive? Why are our finances in such a mess? Why can’t my spouse be like ____ who posted a picture of the great meal their other half prepared. For the many suffering with broken relationships and loss, Why me God? Why do I have to be alone?
For this average Joe my thoughts instead have been parked in a double negative providing extreme gratefulness, Why Not Me? Huh? Let me ‘splain –
When you write and go public it is easy to be misread. After releasing my bio story I received a little bit of flack from some saying it sounds like you are bragging a bit about your ‘party days’. Whoa, put the brakes on that. If any teen is reading, here is one of many must reads on the dangers of addiction of what is now legal in Colorado and other places.
My ‘Why not me, that moment’ happened several years ago. I carry the sad memory of one of my best friends. Those memories are triggered in my mind every time I hear of all things about a jail break.
A friend of mine (call him sam to protect his id) and I did everything together for years starting in middle school. We would weight-lift together at the school and often play one on one basketball every day until we were so tired we’d drop, sometimes playing best out of 7 tourneys all the time. I am sure I won most of the time. We were both very competitive and played every game as if it were an NBA championship.
Sam moved into the party zone earlier than I, like 8th grade, and we separated for a couple years, but started hanging out again in high school. We re-united in high school and re-established our work hard, play hard relationship. We still pounded the weight room and b-ball tourneys but added in excessive party time. Music being a great escape for us often included driving around listening to Pink Floyd type music on our 8-tracks and regularly attending concerts or watching movies repeatedly at a local theatre high. Ones like The Last Waltz were our favorites.
Fast forward several years as my wife and I are watching TV and up pops a message with Breaking News. ‘Two men have escaped from the Southern Ohio Correctional facility, consider them armed and dangerous’. Normally it would be the type of announcement that would create a little chuckle as old movies like escape from Alcatraz are recalled in mind. But this one had an eerie sick feeling attached with it. One of the escapees, picture included on the tv screen, was my friend Sam….
Sam had not heeded the wakeup call that I had after I went off in the army. Instead he had continued down the same black path we trekked while in high school. As stories were gathered I heard he fell into deeper drug addictions, which turned to poverty, which turned to armed robbery to get money to pay for more drugs, which landed him in prison.
I have googled all over the place to find factual history of exactly what happened to Sam. The only thing I have are stories heard through the rumor mill. Sam eventually was captured and returned to prison. Upon release from the state pen he was later heard to be homeless. As of this date no one, including family has seen nor heard from in years. His whereabouts are unknown.
I tell the story sometimes to my kids, as that could have been me. The choices we make and the paths we take are minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, ultimately all our choice. Certainly some things happen that are not our choice, but how we choose to respond and change or not change when ‘stuff’ happens in our lives leads to our destiny.
I don’t know the exact answer to why Sam’s story ended as it did, but I thank God I can ponder, Why was that not me? It very easily could have been.
If you don’t know Why in the world my blog posts have this divider in every story, click on it so you understand before reading more.
Sam’s story could have been different. Sometimes we Christians pray for our friends and family but wonder why did God not ‘save them’.
God actually wants everybody, that is everybody even ISIS or your most hated enemy, to have a relationship with Him and really, for everyone to be saved.
But eventually, and I believe we being made in the same image and mode of thinking that God has, he ultimately knows when time has run its course and has to take a different path to solve problems. People ask, why would a loving God send justice on the world like he did with the flood (Noah’s ark) or send fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah.?
Do you get sick and tired of mean people? Do you get disgusted with injustice in the world such as happened in France or here on our soil at 911? Those sick and tired thoughts come because we think just like God does. Eventually, time and patience runs out. Stories from history tell us, make good decisions or else.
For me, Why did I not end up like Sam? I don’t know, but I do know God provided him lots of opportunities, at least one.
I had mentioned in my bio that a Jesus freak friend of mine from high school had been bugging me. Eventually that friend and I and several others were committed to a campus church at The Ohio State University (sorry to you Buckeye haters, Go Bucks to those that bleed scarlet and gray). One day Sam appeared out of nowhere and I ran into him on campus. He was at what seemed to be the bottom.
Sam joined together with us for a short month. We ran Sam through the steps to peace with God. For a bit it seemed that maybe his life would be different. I remember taking a long bus ride from Ohio to Orlando on a conference with him.
The last time I saw Sam we had taken him in to live with us in our home on campus shared by group of 5 guys. After the conference we were all feeling pretty good and Sam seemed to be on a new and different ‘high’ with us. Then just as he had appeared out of nowhere, he was gone.
One morning I woke up and all my cash was gone and a few other items (we didn’t have much in those days to take). Ironically we wore the same size shoes and he walked away with a pair of my best shoes. He was never to be seen again by me until seeing the breaking news flash his roughed up prison mug picture on the TV.
Sam chose to walk in my shoes in a different direction. I don’t know in God’s book of justice where he ultimately ended. Maybe the steps he made during that time provided a positive ending. That is not my job to decide. I do know that when God calls we have a chance to choose to walk down the path of being broken in a not so good way. Or we can choose to live a full whole life, broken with gratefulness, that makes us ponder if we are wearing positive path shoes to ask Why was that Not Me? It is what happens at that moment, when you are thankful for what did not happen.
I don’t have the answers to a lot of things especially why would God choose me or not choose me. I do know that when I think about the possibility that He did choose me for something special, I am broken with thankfulness as I certainly did not deserve it.
Here are a few additional deep thoughts, straight from the source.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 1 Peter 2:4
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 1 Thessalonians 1:4
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Cor 6:19-20