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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Entry 17: Attitude

June 3, 2014

Dear Friends

Re: Entry 17

The last time I really had the flu was several years ago, in late January or early February. I remember this time distinctly because my youngest son Ogal was going with his team to a varsity basketball tournament about 200 miles away and I could not go. It was really the first of his games I missed, but given that he was a sophomore on a team with 7 seniors, even though he was on the varsity team, I did not think he would play that much. The tournament he was going to was one of the premier in-season tournaments in the state, and I did not want to miss it, but I could not drive. So I stayed at home, it was too far away to pick it up on the radio, so I mostly slept and whined, and moped, partly because of sickness partly because I could not be there.

The prior game went into overtime, so their 9 pm tip off became more like 9:45, a fact that made my head pound even more. At about 9:30 I was lying there thinking and realized that I might be able to get the broadcast over the internet, so I set up a laptop on a side table and looked for Beckley stations. It took several tries and searches, I listened to a number of commercials but when they went back to the main broadcast it was either country music (remember the old joke about country music? I played a record backwards and you know what? the guy got his dog back, go his truck back, got his girl back, got out of prison…). Finally, I just happened on the right station at the precise time and had it, at the start of his game. I was lying there with a blanket over my head, heard the announcement of the starters, the announcers talked to the coaches, and on and on, until the tip.

Then something miraculous happened. with 5 minutes to go in the first quarter (they are eight minute quarters), the announcer said “Checking in for the Warriors, No. 5, Ogal Fessler”…. I sat straight up on the couch, my headache instantly gone, I was healed. I looked at my wife and said “maybe he had to give his shirt to another player who forgot his” (this had happened when he was a freshman). No, it became clear it was Ogal playing, and the longer it went on, the better I felt. The game was very close, they were playing a team from Mt. Hope that was going to close at the end of the school year and had a very good player, it went back and forth, and Ogal was in and out the whole game, had three points, made a basket, got fouled, missed a basket, was fouled, made one of the free throws. In my head he was the star. Later, the coach told me that the Warriors had no answer for Mt. Hope’s best player, so they put Ogal in figuring he could play defense, maybe take the fouls, but Ogal shut him down, we could not have won without him. I do not remember being sick after that, I even went down to pick him up about 3 am and I went to work the next day. I really wanted to talk with him about what happened. I could have bled out on the sidewalk, I think I would have waited until I spoke with him before I died, just to know (I had a relative that once did this, my aunt waited to die until the day after a dinner honoring my father--she said that if she died before it would be cancelled, and he never got any recognition, so she was determined not to ruin it. I went to her house after the dinner and told her all about it. She died eight hours later. Don't tell me attitude does not matter).

Now as nice as that is to experience as a parent (and it is hard to describe to your children why that is, they just have to wait until they become parents to understand), the revelation to me was the fact that I was cured—not just made to feel better—but actually cured. I marveled at how such a change in circumstances could lead to a such a transformation as to how I felt. I did not really forget this, this attitude leading to change, and came to conclude (or wonder) that my personal outlook oftentimes was and is in conflict with reality. Or more to the point: my reality was clouded by my attitude, and my attitude could greatly influence my perception of the world.

This should not be a surprise to Christians. In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says “for God has not give to us a spirit of fear; but of power and love and a sound mind”. How else, in the face of difficulties that some Christians in the world must face, can they be believers? How else can we convince the world to believe in the unseen, if we mope around all day? It is the same spirit of verse that the Lord calls us to be cheerful givers, to go exhort and to encourage one another, to build one another up, to call each other to the higher calling of the Gospel. Attitude. It is not just some poster on a wall, but it is power—to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans, 8:6). These are not just words in an old book, but power, real power. Imagine, if I could harness the energy for sports or other pursuits into living for the Lord, or devote the time or attitude?

I remain,