The Adventure of a Lifetime

I was having an incredible year.

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In 2004, I was going to be a new father. My wife, Jen and I felt like the world was unfolding gloriously before us. The spring promised yet another blessing and we teemed with a fresh excitement about our burgeoning family.

But March arrived with more than anyone could have ever dreamed. When our daughter, Addison Grace, was born, the thrill of new life was side-swiped by severe medical complications that threatened death. There came Neonatal Intensive Care Units and scary reports from doctors that sent nurses and orderlies scurrying. And then came the unexpected, thunderous diagnosis: Down Syndrome.

Addie_oxygen1And I was having such an incredible year.

All of the sudden I went from the thrill and exultation of a dream, to the challenge and sorrow of a profound disappointment.

But as it turns out, I was still having an incredible year. I just didn’t know it yet. What I came to discover—even in the midst of my darkest night—is that pain, as gut wrenching as it can be, truly shapes us. Struggle—as unexpected and unwelcome as it always is—has the potential to actually catapult us into an amazing future.

I didn’t know it then, but I was getting ready to walk out a wondrous truth: that sorrow doesn’t stand a chance in the joy-filled face of Grace.

And so I’ve told my story—in a new book. It’s all about this dad’s walk holding hands with two incredible people. They’re two people that showed up in unexpected and astonishing ways—whose presence in my life have left me forever changed for the better. They’re two marvelous, Marcus-changing people who share a common middle name: my first-born daughter, Addison and my Savior, Jesus. Grace was His middle name too.

I didn’t know it then, but the first time that first doctor handed me my first-born, I was grabbing on to the adventure of a lifetime. Addie is eleven now. And I’ve only recently come to realize how much my story is actually our story—together. You and me.

“All-of-the-sudden Sorrows” come hunting all of us from time to time. But GRACE means holding hands with something traumatic and gloriously transformative at the same time. There can be profound meaning in the pain. In fact, we can discover what it means to grab on to the adventure of a lifetime—even if we never saw it coming.

HHWG_3Drender_sidebarI hope you’ll read the book. I hope it encourages you no matter what kind of year you’re having. Because the same Jesus who met me in the dark alley of my disappointment stands ready to meet you in yours. And He desires more than anything to see your pain transformed into miraculous purpose right in front of your eyes. Sorrow doesn’t stand a chance in the face of that kind of Savior. All you and I have to do is begin Holding Hands With Grace.

Let me know what YOU think? Post a comment.

Walking On the Water of Fear

We had a family movie night this past week at my house, and Dad decided to kick it Old School.

Scared

I have four kids: 11, 9, 7 and the little one is 5. And this diminutive crew was about to have their first-ever encounter with one of the best suspense movies ever: Jurassic Park. I say “Old School” because it’s been over 25 years since Jurassic Park came out. Long enough for kids born after the release to be long graduated with Master’s Degrees. But it has maintained its verve on the suspense movie scoreboard in my mind.

Yeah, I know… a little scary for the littlest of the lot. But I figure a kid’s got to come to grips with man-eating dinosaur fear sooner or later. Why not sooner? And yes, my kids will likely spend some time in therapy later.

I found it hilarious—if not somewhat twisted—to watch their different responses to fear. You know when Dinosaurs starting stomping around eating everyone in sight? Some of them leaned forward. Some of them pulled the covers over their heads.

Jurassic_Park_raptors_1The little one scurried out of the room at one point, retrieving a coloring book and crayons from behind her Barbie® Playhouse. She then snuck back into the room, positioned herself immediately behind my back, and began coloring. Her choice of rampart effectively blocked her from the screen, and the aforementioned man-eating dinosaurs.

Whenever I moved, SHE moved. When I zigged, she zagged. It was a dance in silhouette that I brought a big grin to both our faces.

We all get afraid. And everybody draws up a strategy for fear-avoidance at some point. But beyond being cute in a dinosaur DVD, real fear can cripple us. The power of fear can imprison us. Fear holds us back and undermines our opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Peter knew it. Matthew 14 describes a scene straight out of a Spielberg suspense flick: raging sea, stormy gale, night black as pitch. But in spite of everything that loomed to put a shiver down Peter’s spine, ol’ Pete made a decision. He decided on this night that his fear wouldn’t get the best of him. There would be no shrinking back. And before his friends could strap a life jacket on his broad shoulders, or graciously lash him to the mast, Peter was out of the boat, walking on the water.

He walked, not out of duty or obligation. He walked, not pressured or cajoled into it. He walked on the water out of a deep desire to be closely connected to his friend. And his friend just so happened to be Jesus—the world’s greatest Storm Stymier.

Scary situations come hunting all of us. Fear isn’t picky. And my guess is he’s visited your place many times. He’s invaded your calm water when you least expected it. And what stands between you and an incredible, miraculous encounter with Jesus is the Water of Fear—the Sea of Suspense.

You have more in common with Peter than you think. You have a choice: you can let fear whip you, or you can walk on it.

You can try to hide under the covers if you want. You can bust out the crayons and coloring books. You can even try to find someone or something to distract you from facing the fear. But sooner or later, you’re going to get steam-rolled by the storms of this life.

Are you going to let it WHIP YOU or will you WALK ON IT?

Jesus is inviting you toward an incredible, miraculous connection with Him—the Sovereign walking on the Sea of Suspense. And the only thing holding you back is a pesky, little, measly thing called “your boat.” If you listen carefully, you may just hear what Peter heard. That maybe it’s time to crawl right on out of comfortable, and start walking on the water of your fear. And even though the storms will rage, and faltering faith will try to sink your soul, the Hand that holds you fast—imperishable, unsinkable—will be the hand of the Man named Grace.