“DEFINE GOD.” Phinehas
I relish the attempt to meet your request, Phinehas. Let me begin with a little history you may not know.
In 1978, I considered your dad one of my best friends, as well as my mentor. I had just tasted the reality of God in my life, and, for the first time, I began to consider Him in my thoughts. This was all completely new and strange, and exciting. Your dad led me into a joyful life of believing God, and trusting Him with every area of my life. I watched John, and tried to imitate his pursuit. I began to grow excited as God’s presence began to become more and more visible to me, His words more real and exciting and wise than ever before. My love for the Father began to grow, as I watched that love grow in your dad.
When we moved to East Texas, and Y’all moved to Vermont, we kinda lost connection.( No Internet back then) I guess, something changed in Johnny that I never understood, and we have really had no significant conversations since.
When Mom died, and then, Chelsey died we got together, but sharing did not go very deep.
I have always felt a deep sense of loss over the change in our (your family and mine) relationship.
Anyway, if you asked me to define your dad, I could only go so far as my experience with him allowed, his actions when we spent time together, his words in our conversations. You get what I’m saying?
But your family is really close to each other, at least it seems to be from my viewpoint. If I asked you to define John White, you could relate his life, his words, his actions, his love for you, his love for others, his love for certain causes, certain activities all things that you have observed up close for over thirty years.
But, even then, the definition would be lacking. Your brothers and sisters would add more. Your mom, even more. His mom, even more. And even then the depths of his personality and character would only have been touched.
You ask me to define God. I have only known Him and loved Him for 38 years, which seems long in human terms, but in eternal terms, I don’t think I have even scratched the surface. I do know that He changed me, and He is causing me to become more like Him, though, even in that, I have scarcely scratched the surface.
A difficult thing it is to do what you request.
I can tell you, there will be no dictionary definition.
I will glean from His words, His actions, His love for you, His love for others, his love for me, His love for righteousness, and His love for a world that has turned away from Him that I have observed up close for over thirty years.
Much more to follow.
Memory from 2015. (Actually from 1972, but I remembered it in 2015, and then, I found it today.)
A couple of weeks ago, Zoë suggested that we watch the movie “Signs” with Mel Gibson. I had seen it before, but it is fun for her to want to watch one with us so we agreed.
I say I had seen it before, but I remembered about as much as if I had only seen the previews. Something about the movie was stirring me on the inside. You know, that feeling you get when you see a movie that is so inspired, it touches you, and stays with you. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. I won’t ruin it for you. Suffice it to say, that I began to ruminate on small events in my life that had life-changing impact.
After my second year in college, I came home for the summer. My sister, Elaine, had just graduated, and I was looking through her Yearbook, hoping for an idea of someone that may be willing to date me. There were 600+ students in her graduating class, probably more than 300 girls. So, I began turning the pages, looking.
Now, I was not a “player” and, for me to have the courage to ask a girl out, I had to have a little encouragement first. So, I poured through the entire senior class pictures, and, when I got to the W’s, one photo grabbed me. The first thing I noticed was the beautiful hair. Wendy Wright was her name. I knew her a little. When I had worked at Safeway in Orchard Hills, she had gotten a job there in the snack bar. She was always friendly, her hamburgers tasted incredibly good, she knew how I liked my coffee, she had a boyfriend, I had a girlfriend.
As a matter of fact, my senior year, her locker was right next to my girlfriend’s locker, so we talked occasionally, mainly just chitchat. The idea of dating her just never came up.
But, that hair in the picture grabbed me!
I told my sister, “I looked through your Yearbook, and, of all the girls, I only found one I would like to date. Wendy Wright.”
I had pretty much given up on church at that point in my life, so, my family was active, and I stayed home. But my sister was in the youth group at our church.
The next Sunday, when my sister went to youth group, Wendy Wright walked in, a guest of Cathy Cooper. Now, she and Cathy were really just more acquaintances than close friends, but that Sunday, Cathy decided to ask Wendy to go to youth group with her. Wendy had always had a boyfriend, and her free time was always with him, but she had just broken up with him, and decided to go.
Elaine saw her, and said, “Wendy! Hi! Randy was just talking about you the other day!”
Wendy smiled politely and said, “Oh, how is he doing? Tell him to call me sometime.”
Elaine passed on the message.
So, in true stalker fashion, I learned where she lived, and began to drive by as often as I could, usually on my way to work. I had had to cut my long hair in order to take a job on the night crew at Kraft Foods, where my mom worked during the day. Anyway, I was just hoping for a glimpse of the this girl. Instead, every time I drove by, there were 8-10 kids playing in the driveway. I remember thinking, “Oh great, she has a ton of brothers and sisters.”
One day, I mustered the courage to stop, and I walked to the door, rang the bell. A woman answered ( I thought she may have been an older sister (did you catch my compliment, MaryJane?)) but she was not smiling, she had a black beehive hairdo, and she seemed a little mean.
“Uh, is Wendy home?”
“No, she is at modeling class. Who are you?” Still seemed mean.
“Uh, just tell her, Randy Epps came by.” And I practically ran to the car to get away.
When Wendy got home, her mom said, “Some boy came by today.”
“I don’t know, Randy something.” ( they were kinda having the typical mom/18 yr old daughter war)
“Epps? Randy Epps?”
“Yeah, that might be it.”
I found the nerve to call. She was wonderful! We talked for four hours. That is when phones were plugged into the wall.
She asked me to come see her, so I went a couple of hours before I had to go to work. I worked from 10:00 PM to 7:00 am. When she opened the door, I was a little shocked. (A lot)
She said, “You cut your hair!”
She stood in front of me, and she had one of those Twiggy short short haircuts.
I said, “Yeah, you did, too.”
We talked again for a couple of hours, then, at 9:30, I told her I had to go to work. (she told me later, she thought I was just making that up to get away, because I hadn’t told her what my job was.)
So, my point.
Our lives are made up of countless small, seeming inconsequential events, that have to be ordered in some way. God has a plan for us. He gives us countless opportunities to come along for the ride, but he doesn’t force us to do things His way. But he is always moving the pieces around.
By the way, Wendy and I were married four months later.
God knew me, knew I needed her.
Five years later, her mom finally decided that maybe I was okay.
Written JUNE 6, 2016 (taking my mind back to a healthier time)
- I made the Rice University soccer team in the Fall of 1971.
- I became a starter on the Rice University soccer team.
- I played a game against the professional Dallas Tornado soccer team with Kyle Rote, Jr.
- I scored a goal against The University of Houston soccer team.
- It was a soccer club. No one got cut.
- I was probably at best the second worst player on the team. ( one guy may have placed me a little lower). The only reason I started because I was fast enough to recover from some of the myriad of mistakes I made.
- The Dallas Tornado beat us 10-2. I ran alongside Rote a couple of times, but I was less intrusive to him than a gnat.
- Took a shot at goal, miskicked it, off my toe, and the banana shot that resulted went right around the outstretched arms of the diving goalie. Not where I aimed it, but…..GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!
I was at my last stop of the day on Wednesday. Window cleaning all day long. A bunch of ladder work, and I was pretty pooped.
Painters were still working the front of the house, so today, I would do the back windows on the outside, and all the inside windows.
I had nearly finished. The ladder seemed heavy, and I was huffing and puffing every time I moved it.
So, I saved the three high windows at the backdoor for last.
The room had a polished tile floor, with furniture in front of all the windows.
There was a kids version small wooden picnic table with two wooden benches in front of the first one.
I slid the two benches off to the side. There was probably room for the picnic table there, but, for some reason, I felt like I should move it out of the way more.
I slid the table pretty far from the window so it would not be in the way.
I set up my ladder on the first one, the most difficult one.
Before I went up the ladder, I noticed that I had a response on my phone from one of my blog commenters. Still asking me to answer his questions in the way he wanted.
We were in a long going (argument) discussion.
Later, I thought, I just want to finish this job.
He had been troubling me for some time for “real evidence that God is real” and never seemed satisfied with any thing I said.
He said I was copping out, just like all Christians do, and he knew so many who “had been genuine Christians” and had deconverted.
I had told him I didn’t believe that was possible, because I had been broken, and when I converted, “I had been fixed. A whole new person.”
“So,” He asked me, “If you were deconverted, would you be un-fixed?”
“It’s not possible,” I said.
The latest comment was “answer the question.”
I thought I had, so I went back up my ladder, finished the tallest window, came down and moved the ladder.
“So heavy” I puffed.
As I climbed, when I got to about 12 feet, the ladder slid.
I tried to quickly go down, but instead flew off.
First glimpse was how far away the floor was.
Next I landed on my back with a crash.
Not a thump. A crash.
Picnic table? How did I land on the picnic table? I moved the table out of the way, didn’t I?
If you’ve ever fallen from a distance, you know you don’t jump up.
I cried, “Lord, Jesus.”
The pain was real.
My next thought. “Third fall. How do I tell Wendy?”
The argument I had been having didn’t seem very important.
I stood. “That’s good.”
Arm movement hurt.”I’m not gonna try to finish. Just gotta figure out how to get my stuff out of the house. Left arm, no strength. Think I broke my shoulder blade.”
On the floor is a splintered child’s picnic table.
I moved it out to the patio. “I’ll have to explain this to the owners,” I thought as I huffed, and puffed, an gasped in pain as I made trips to my van to load my stuff.
Yeah, I drove home. A little over an hour.
Pure will power.
In the emergency room, I told the doctor about the picnic table miracle.
“So, I had moved that picnic table out of my way. When I fell, 12 feet up, I landed flat on my back on that picnic table.” He made a face like that must have been really bad.
“It saved my life. It cushioned my fall. My head never hit the floor.”
I have to say right now that I don’t have a reason for moving the table to that place in the room.
I certainly didn’t plan to have it there, just in case.
There had to be one orchestrating this process.
Bad things happen all the time, but we have to be looking for the little things, the small details that change everything, the proof of a loving knowing God who knows what we need when we need it.
The CAT scan showed broken left shoulder blade (I knew it) and a broken back (T4 vertebra, fractured and compressed, but in place). No surgery.
I smiled. It could have been so much worse.
I wrote my online opponent the next day.
“I like to think that the reason I don’t have brain damage, crippling injuries, or a coffin is because God has given me to you as a gift.”
I don’t think he felt the same.
July 1, 2015
The declaration of independence says that our creator has given certain indisputable rights; Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Apparently, the right to life doesn’t apply to the unborn, and liberty is slipping between our fingers as our government grows more and more, and decides what liberties are good for us, and which ones we cannot handle.
The pursuit of happiness is the one that is at the forefront now. There is a group that says if we can just change the definition of marriage to include us, then our pursuit of happiness will also be fulfilled.
But, if the future proves that the redefinition doesn’t bring the happiness, then the probable next step will be to blame the lack of satisfaction on a group or groups that did not agree with the changed meaning of marriage in the first place.
Some change is good. Some change, when enacted in haste without taking into account possible future ramifications, may bring unfortunate outcomes.
I’m not a prophet. But we will see.
One thing about getting old is that you remember simpler times, before technology, before the great darkness.
A time when a woman’s pregnancy was referred to as “with child.”
There was no question. That small change growing in her womb was a child.
Not a mass of tissue, a child.
“She is in the family way.” (When a family meant mother, father, children.)
The reason abortion was rare and not legal was because people were aghast that you would consider ending the life of that growing child.
The sinister voice of the destroyer was in the world then as well, whispering to those who would hear.
“You could make some good money, if you will help these poor desperate young girls prevent this horrible mistake from ruining their life.”
Sometime, in the 60’s,the narrative changed.
“Poor, desperate young girls are being forced into back alley abortions, coat hanger abortions because people don’t think they should have a right to make their own life decisions.”
“It is simply a mass of tissue we are removing.”
A growing mass of tissue with DNA that is different from the mother’s DNA, with capabilities and possibilities built into that DNA that could do great and marvelous things for the world.
If only it survives until birth.
Since 1973, it is estimated that over 54,000,000 abortions have been performed in the United States.
That is 1,255,813 children killed before they start, every year.
That is 3,440 children deprived the chance to live every single day.
I live in a town of about 1300 people. If three towns this size were destroyed every single day, what would we do?
But, when the focus changes, everything changes.
We have several generations now that have always had this “choice” available.
I wonder why the country has become so irreconcilably divided these days.
Could it be that that one sinister voice of the one whose purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy has finally gained the ear of the majority?
“Did God really say…?”