Lord, You Lead, I'll Follow

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Growing up in Lewiston, Idaho, Dad and Mom taught me about God and I watched how God influenced their lives every day. Dad closed his grocery store on Sundays because, as he put it, that was the Lord's Day. He refused to sell alcohol, saying that was not a good thing for us to do. Dad always talked about being honest, respecting people and working hard. At age 6, I began working in the store after school. I loved being with Dad; he was my hero.

When I was 12, I heard a visiting evangelist talk about how Christ calls us and each of us needed to make a personal response and commitment to Christ. So I got up out of my seat, walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, and repented, asking God to forgive my sins and come into my life. He did.

Shortly after that, Dad and Mom bought 190 acres of land, 100 miles east of Lewiston cradled in the "Y" where the Lochsa and Selway Rivers join to form the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River. When we moved there, only a house and barn stood on the 5-acre flat along the Lochsa River just before it met the Selway. The setting was absolutely gorgeous, and within a couple of years, the place was booming.

Working side by side, our family transformed that beautiful, but undeveloped, property into a full-fledged resort. We built 10 log cabins along the river, an 8-unit redwood motel, five A-frames, and a lodge with a restaurant on top and a grocery store below. We put in a 20' x 40' heated swimming pool, a self-service laundry, and 25 trailer spots with hook-ups. We had gas pumps, propane fuel, and three wreckers to pull cars and trucks out of the Lochsa River.

We had our own hunting guide who brought with him 30 horses and his own crew. In the back of our grocery store we had an 8' x 15' walk-in cooler for storing elk, deer, and bear. We even had a complete meat processing plant and could ship the cut and wrapped meat anywhere in the USA.

It was the 1960's, and while my generation was intoxicated with flower power and drugs, I was busy working, fishing, hunting, riding my Honda 50 up Cool Water Mountain, and absolutely loving life. By the time I was 16, I had my future mapped out. I intended to stay right there working with my dad, eventually taking over the business for him. I would find a wife, get married young like Dad did, have kids early like Dad did, and keep on working — just like Dad did. He was still my hero. I didn't have a clue that God had a different plan in mind for me until, one day, everything suddenly screeched to a halt.

The coach's eyes popped as he looked at his stopwatch. "Wow! Let's try that again," he said. He had just clocked me at 10 seconds flat for the 100-yard dash. I was just running for fun, but the coach seemed impressed. So I ran it again... and again... in 10 seconds flat. "Wow!" he repeated. "You've got to compete."

I begged Dad to let me ride my Honda 50 twenty-three miles to the school. He finally agreed. It was Saturday, May 7, 1966. 1 was 16.

I dressed, put on my borrowed running shoes, and warmed up. Excited, ready to fly, I took my place on the line. Feet set, hands down, "hiney" to the sky, I waited for the thunder of the gun. Bang!

Six or seven steps out, I was in the lead when, suddenly, I heard a second thunderous bang accompanied by what felt like the blow of a sledgehammer to my mid left thigh. Momentum carried me forward and my next stride drove my broken femur up into my hip. Down I went, somersaulting to a sitting position. It's been 37 years since I sat on that track staring at my legs wondering why my left leg looked so short, but I can see it as clearly as if it happened only moments ago. [The fracture was apparently the result of an extreme hyperextension from my hamstring muscle and knee all the way down to the ankle, like a stiff solid board. My body was still rising to a full running position. So my upper body at a 45 degree angle to my leg and my left foot firmly planted, the full weight of my upper body was flying forward to the goal. The shear pressure of the upper body moving forward, at the proper angle to the leg where the knee would not bend…something had to give and my femur bone snapped in two.]

We had no ambulance, so I rode 25 miles to the nearest hospital in the back of a Nash rambler station wagon with my head and shoulders resting on the tailgate. The doctor gave me two options: (1) go to Spokane, Washington, for surgery to put in a pin which would probably have to be removed a year or two later; or (2) stay where I was, with my leg in traction. Either way he estimated it would be six weeks before I could go home. I chose traction.

I left home that morning expecting to run the 100-yard dash in ten seconds flat. By evening I was flat on my back in a hospital bed, with a horseshoe affair attached to my left foot by cloth straps ace wrapped tightly around my calf. A 50 pound weight hung over a pulley at the end of the bed. I couldn't even get up to go to the bathroom.

Three weeks later, I had made no progress. My screams filled those hospital hallways as excruciating muscle spasms repeatedly displaced the broken ends of my femur, sucking that 50-pound weight hanging over the end of the bed right up toward the pulley.

By that time, I had also developed an ever-increasing pain down my calf. I guessed that the traction set-up was taking its toll, so I asked the nurse to check it out. She said it was fine. Finally, I threatened to remove it myself. That got some action.

Two nurses and the doctor arrived acting perturbed that I would bother them. The doctor lifted the weight; one nurse held my leg up; and the other one unwrapped the ace bandage. The sudden stench made us gasp for air. I plugged my nose. My skin had actually pulled away from the muscle. By the time they finished with me that day, I had a new stainless steel pin poking through my heel supporting the 50 pound weight that again hung over the end of my bed.

Weeks 4 and 5 dragged by with the agonizing muscle spasms unabated, the bone alignment continually disrupted, and no healing taking place.

Flat on my back in bed, I had plenty of time to be still and listen to God. That's when Matthew 7:21 began haunting me. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." I didn't know what that meant. God's Spirit had been gently nudging me to follow Christ, but I didn't understand that either. I had already accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord, but I was about to learn what it means to follow him as Lord on a daily basis. During the fourth and fifth weeks of my hospitalization, I sensed the Holy Spirit inviting me, no, calling me to follow Christ and go into the ministry. I said no way. That would mean leaving my dad and my family, going to some far away place to school, and who knows where after that. I couldn't do it.

In my sixth week in traction, still no healing had taken place. Now my soul was as wracked with pain and torment as my body was. I couldn't sleep. At two o'clock one morning, the dim light in the hallway began to glow like the sun. The light became so bright I had to shield my eyes and turn away. It filled my room. The Spirit of God spoke to my heart saying, "Follow me. I will make you a builder of men and families."

I wrestled. I refused. I argued. I pleaded. No. Please no. I can't. I will fail. I will not be good at this. I don't want to leave my Dad. There is too much at stake. I bargained. I can make money and give it to missionaries. I'll support ministries, but please don't ask me to go into a ministry. Finally, I yielded. Cotton-mouthed, I said, "OK, Lord, I'll follow You." I didn't know where. I didn't know how. But at that moment, His peace filled my heart. I slept for the first time in several days.

Three days later, the muscle spasms were gone and my leg began for the first time to heal. I spent six more weeks in the hospital. Waiting. Praying. Learning about a new dimension in my relationship with Christ.

When I got home, I knew I had to follow through on the commitment I had made to Christ. My resolve was set, but I also knew that this would change my dad's plans as much as it had my own. I didn't know how to tell him.

Late one evening, when Dad went out to close down the laundry, I hobbled along with him on my crutches. Fearful of his reaction, I waited until his back was turned. "Dad," I began, "there's something I need to talk to you about. . ."

As my story unfolded, Dad stopped what he was doing, turned around, and looked directly at me, listening intently. When I finished, he asked one question, "Are you sure?"  "Yes."  "Then I will support you 100%," he said. Shortly thereafter, Dad put the resort up for sale and began looking for a smaller place that he could run without me. My dad understood the Lordship of Christ.

Your experience will be different than mine, but God wants all those who have repented and received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to acknowledge Him as “Lord over their daily lives” as well. Looking back, I see now that although I did not get to take over my dad's resort as I had planned, God has blessed me beyond what I could ever have imagined and deserved. The very thing I resisted the most—leaving my family and going to some "far away place" to go to school—brought me two of the greatest blessings of my life. First, it prepared me for a lifetime of ministry to families. And, second, college was where I met the friend who introduced me to my dear wife, Candy. To top it off, for the past 24 years, we have lived in a log house cradled in the foothills of the mountains surrounding Leavenworth, Washington. That house also served until recently, as the home base for Life-Trac Family ministries. Our boys grew up in a setting much like the one I left behind. Through the years, my parents and my brother and sister and their families have also moved to this same beautiful area. With Candy's parents only half an hour away, we have all enjoyed growing through the seasons of life together. God has added blessing upon blessing to my life. Why did I fight Him so hard? I have not deserved this privilege of knowing and walking with God but His grace and the Cross has made it all possible. To Him be the glory.

"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” ICor.2:2

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph.2:8

“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt.7:21

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