Marion: You're not the man I knew ten years ago.
Indy: It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.
I usually keep little accounting of what happened in a year, afraid I will get neurotic and overly analyze it and then ruin what good memories I had with my incessant perfectionism.
But as I began reviewing 2008, I could not help but praise God for material blessings and honors He has given me through the love of Christ-followers AND for the happy experiences of more secular pleasures - I LOVES me some superheroes and I gotta say its been a banner year for that obsession of mine!
From Iron Man to Indiana Jones to The Dark Knight, we got some movies we'd waiting for for a very, very long time.
I know the reader does NOT want to hear a dull re-telling point-by-point of "how good GAHD's been to ME" - I get those cards in the mail at times and it makes me want to projectile vomit. Everything is a little too perfect and the sins and failures a little too glossed over.
Cool things have happened to all of this in 2008 and some not-so-cool.
For all of us: at the end of 2007 gas stood at some $3.20 or more a gallon. Shot up to over $4.00 in some areas by June.
By the end of 2008, we are looking at $1.60 - $1.65 a gallon or one-third the price.
I think we can all rejoice in that.
But here's some cool things that happened to me that may have happened to you (or will), so hang in there and be faithful to God, that's all I am saying:
In 2007, I made so little money I did not even file income tax return. Oh, I was sweating bullets - but I was following the Law. I had made it through 2007 on gifts and charity and a little cash earned here as I lived in my landlady's home, serving as a driver and butler (think Driving Miss Daisy).
By the end of 2008, I was debt-free and it was due to a Christian brother giving me a referral to serve as a night watchman for a Christian company. Its been a challenge to flip my daily schedule, but sitting in front of a computer all night and eating is something I am highly qualified to do! ;) Its had some adventurous moments and I am making money in an awful economy.
By the end of 2007, I had heard of only one man I ministered to coming to know Jesus more fully after 3 years of preaching at DuPage County Jail.
By the end of 2008, I have received two different letters of men with transformed lives, one of which I related here on the blog in June. I tell you the truth, I KNOW my sins and I cannot but be amazed that these men saw and experienced Christ through me. We HAVE to give all credit to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Artistically, there was more joy than I knew how to handle. I must have been one of the happiest fanboys in the world - next to Robert Downey, Jr., that is.
By the end of 2007, we fanboys were hearing about all these great films that would come out - and we knew how bad hype can be. Usually the expectations trump the experience and you leave the theatre pretty disappointed. It seemed our imagination was better than the director's. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Dark Knight were all coming out. How would they do?
By the end of 2008, we can safely say we had a home run in Iron Man, a good double in The Incredible Hulk and a Grand Slam in The Dark Knight. (Just to make it all sweeter, my landlady and I were in Metropolis for the 70th Anniversary of Superman in June - the same weekend The Incredible Hulk was released.)
I'm just glad Downey limited his appearances to TWO superhero movies. ;)
By the end of 2007, I was languishing in obscurity and just plugging along, hoping to reach someone, somewhere with the Gospel.
By the end of 2008, I had been interviewed on a public access TV show "Voices in the Wilderness" and have had two different confirmations of people being blessed by it - one being a man who's talented 24 year old son just died of cancer. I also was prompted to write daily and had this blog thrust upon me by one Anthony Trendl (see link to the right). I did NOT title this blog, he did. Tony, as his friends call him, is to romantic writing what Walter Peyton was to football. You have to read his stuff to see what I mean, and how he plays with words like a Harlem Globetrotter plays with a basketball.
By the end of 2007, my father was trapped at home suffering from the effects of a stroke from a year earlier. He was not getting rehabilitation and it was incredibly stressful for my step-mom. They had to let go off their house and place him in a nursing home in Spokane. Thankfully, Washington State has some pretty good care in this regard.
By the end of 2008, my dad is reading his Bible a chapter a day and is getting motion back in his left leg - a direct answer to prayer. We are praying for a full recovery but I will be happy if he can walk if assisted. He is a stubborn Kentucky boy of 76 - he don't stop easily! My step-mom is closer to her son and has a nice apartment where she can visit my dad every day. All is well and in the Lord's hands.
In 2008, my church moved into a much larger facility. I was not a proponent of this, but I see that it has enabled some greater outreaches and brought some needed transparency. I am hearing stronger messages on the Holy Spirit's work. At the same time, in the same month, an ordination party was thrown for me by a class leader and was attended by the Chairman of our Elders. He said such kind things about me I cannot repeat them. Such grace and kindness overwhelmed me.
The month before, and right after my ordination by a dear preacher brother of mine who is undergoing kidney dialysis, I went on an adventure, traveling to DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. On the way, I met another man who should have died in January and was called to preach the gospel but decided he could not be perfect enough to do it.
I told him how good God was to me - and I did not deserve it. Right after I dropped him off to his smiling wife and three kids, I picked up a hitchiker - a male "white witch" who was now a Christ-follower. I related his story also back in June/July with my Phantom Stranger series.
I guess all I can say is God is far more at work and more amazing than I ever thought. I have seen many good things this year, and I will tell of some of the bad in the next post ("It was the Worst of Times"), but when I look back at these blessings and joys and gifts, I have to conclude that He is generous if we are faithful.
So my kind, internet-friendly advice to you Christ-followers is:
KEEP ON TRUCKIN' BABY! JESUS KNOWS WHEN AND HOW TO RE-FUEL YOU!
And if you are not a Christ-follower, to you I say:
Are you NUTS?
Jesus is life, joy, peace and all that you really want but were afraid to ask for!
Get on your knees and ask for Him to save you!
You will not regret it. I promise you.