Tuesday, February 07, 2006

When I was in junior high, I discovered that the Lord had gifted me in running. The longer the distance, the better I seemed to handle it. I was clearly not a sprinter. Because this came so naturally, I had a tendency to disregard my ability. This was not in the days of perpetual training. Today's athletes seem to be in the weight room or on the court of their affection, endlessly.

The thing was, I wanted to play football. I wanted glory, and I wanted it in a sport that I thought was worthy. I went out for the football team. I embarrassed myself. It wasn't pretty. My friends who were knocking me around felt sorry for me. I even saw the pity in their eyes. Humiliating!

Fortunately, I decided to try running instead. Cross Country was next. This unknown ability began to surface as I began to invest. I began to win events with noone close to me. My coaches tried to spur me on. The high school team heard about my abilities, and came to some of my meets to "push" me.

This was not the attention I sought. I was a teenage boy, who wanted what most teenage boys desired. I wanted the girls to take notice. I wanted the cheerleaders to come and cheer for me. My sport was obscure, the crowds sparse. My parents were seldom at my meets due to schedule conflicts, etc. Plus, have you ever been to a Cross Country meet? Most of the battles are fought far away from the public eye.
The people in attendance can generally see the start and the finish. Determination and victory had to come from within.

BJ liked to swim. I remember the struggle I had going to watch and cheer him on. I have such a competitive spirit, that I wanted him to crush his competition. When my children were small, I confess I was one of those soccer dads who embarrassed my wife, children and everyone else, with obnoxious screaming. BJ did not crush his competitors. It was usually the other way around. He did not seem to mind. As he strove to improve, his small frame began to take form.

He stuck to it, because he enjoyed it, and had some raw natural ability. Most of the kids he was competing against, had been swimming since they were, well... smaller that Beej, and that was saying something. He improved, and even began to win some heats. His previously awkward junior high body was taking on a new look. I even gave him a new nickname... "peck boy" (his pectoral muscles were well defined by now). Calling him this, elicited many wrestling matches and red faces. The threat of calling him this in public brought about a quick retreat from whatever issue, situation or discussion I was trying to keep the upper hand in.

BJ's ability to "stick to it," superseded my own. He was not in it for the glory. He took advantage of his role on the club team, to share his faith in Christ. Something I never did. I learn many lessons from my children. Humbling!

BJ's diligence in his walk with Christ was incredible to me. He found determination where I had looked for popularity. He found victory in Christ, where I had been self-promoting.

Though we often act otherwise, we each have a natural proclivity to embrace our Savior. It is natural because He created us. Yes, we have free will, and we exercise it often. I stumble too frequently for my years. When you have been "walking" as long as I have, stumbling should not be near as close a friend as it is.

Despite his absence from us physically, he continues to lead by example through the choices he made, the knowledge he gained, and the secure footing that exemplified his walk. Determination and victory came from Jesus. He learned to practice.



At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Hey, been a while. How is all, I am doing okay. Wanted you to know that i will be joining you this summer and that I can't wait to see you again. love you guys and miss you.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"BJ's diligence in his walk with Christ was incredible to me." As he does many of us, Dad. Sometimes I wonder why I sit here and push numbers across spreadsheets all day when there are people dying without Christ. But then I think He knows what He is doing, He put me here so I keep looking to people like BJ and you for inspiration and encouragement to minister where I am planted! Thank you for the reminder today.

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hearing about BJ's life has given me a new view on life. My youth pastor is good friends with Walker Moore and he got the dvd of BJ's funeral. He played it for us one Wednesday. I guess God had been using the things in my life up to that point to prepare me for the messages being delivered and the chanllenges given. I'm not normally a crying kind of person, but that night the flood gates let out! I was completely broken. Evern since then, God has done an amazing work in my life. I'm taking each day seriously and I'm learning to REALLY trust him for the things that I need and the things that I ask for. I just recently finished reading "Believeing God" by Beth Moore and in it she talks about when you ask God for something, you have to BELIEVE whole heartedly that God can do it if he chooses. Of course sometimes it's not on his agenda to do what we ask ALL the time, but he will do what's best for us. I've been able to remember to pray more often even about the little things and KNOW that God would do what he thinks would be best. Also, my passion for missions has grown into my purpose for life (aside from Christ mind you). I have a HUGE desire to reach anyone I can! Please pray that God would send people into my life that I can be a witness to and sow some seeeds of Christ. Thanks so much for your posts. They are so encouraging. I really appriciate how you have stepped up to the plate to evangilizing the world through the oppertunity God has given you, even though it's a tough situation to be in! I'm praying for you!!

Little Rock, AR

At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently got a fortune cookie that stated, "You will talk the talk and walk the walk." I immediately thought of BJ. Then I thought of how I need to not just read the blog or admire BJ and your whole family, but take it to the streets! I can make a difference, too. I took it seriously. I have been reaching to others more than I ever have. Sometimes it is uncomfortable, sometimes even discouraging. Then there are times were it amazes me. Thanks to BJ and his revolution, more and more are coming to Christ -- or even just sharing thier faith journey. BJ, you're revolution continues throughout the world!!

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still think about you and BJ everyday and usually share BJ story with my patients families and usually cry and as they do too,I work ICU and continue to share gods good word with others, I still get saddened when talking of BJ , Tara (my daugter) tells me I need to meet you two and see that you are both wonderful people and ok in life.... even though I never met BJ, his story has had a tremendous impact on me in my life!! God Bless You!!

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say AMEN! This is what it is ALL about - coming TOGETHER as the body of believers to LOVE, ENCOURAGE, PRAY, CONFESS, LIFT UP ... That is what God wants from us!

I want to say that I feel where you're coming from Mark - on the # crunching on spreadsheets - I am right there with you. But, remember there is a season for us all and although you may not be doing in it China everyday, God wants to USE YOU right where you are at! Remember - He meets us right where we're at, but He loves us too much to leave us there! HE IS MOVING!!!

Natalie - PRAISE THE LORD for you! You have blessed my heart by your post! I live in San Diego, but I am 26 and work with High School aged girls as a mentor. I want you to know that you ever just need to email someone who will lift you up and encourage you, please email me lmartindale@icwgroup.com! I'll be there for you, girl! Just keep that heart for the Lord and know, the good and touch days will roll on and you will face much persecution, but God is STILL so GOOD and He is always with you!

God bless you all abundantly - may we keep our eyes on the PRIZE!!!

In His love,

Laurel Lynn <><
San Diego, CA

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Ashley Reagan said...

I hadn't read any of the comments from people very much lately, but I did today and it just encouraged me by what I read! It's pretty amazing the things that have been happening in people's lives recently! :) Love you family!

Ashley Dawn


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