Friday, February 13, 2015

The Call

“The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps”- Prov. 16:9 The Super Bowl game. It’s been the focus the past several weeks on social media and the news. The Seahawks made a decision at the end of the game and lost. It seems everyone is questioning the call. Perhaps they would have won had another call been made? The choice didn’t work out. Sometimes our choices don’t “succeed.” But it depends on how we define success. We make choices where we work, in our families, in our lives. Sometimes our expectations are met and sometimes they fall short. But sometimes a blessing lies in the failure. As the Super Bowl game was winding down, Jermaine Kearse makes a great bobbling catch. This left the Seahawks with a first down on the Patriots five-yard line with 1:06 left in the game. On the next play, the Seahawks handed the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch who ran it four yards, almost scoring a touchdown before he was tackled on the one-yard line. And here’s where things went wrong for Seattle. On the next play, they decided to throw the ball. The play made sense. The route was open. The play had worked before. But the defense countered and the pass was intercepted. Game over. Quarterback Russell Wilson said later, “It’s one of those things, you trust what they called. I had no doubt. I had no doubt in the play call. I still don’t to this day. I just wish we had made the play. If we had made the touchdown, you guys would be sitting here asking me different questions, but we didn’t.’’ Wilson said he never contemplated tucking the ball and running. “Oh, no. It looked wide open,’’ he said, before slightly altering that assessment. “Open enough. I shouldn’t say wide open, but it looked open enough to get it in there and make the play. I thought we were going to. When I threw it, I was like, ‘touchdown, second Super Bowl ring, here we go.’ He (Butler) made a great play. Now Wilson has quite a tale of overcoming adversity to impart. His roommate, Robert Turbin, said he tried to soothe Wilson by telling him that this game, devastating as it was, would wind up as a positive because he would be able to use it to inspire kids. “One day, you’re going to be talking to some kid, or talking to some high-school quarterback who may be low on confidence or struggling with his game,’’ Turbin said he told Wilson on Monday. “You’re going to give him the example about how you threw a pick on the last play of the game in the Super Bowl. Somehow, some way, that story is going to help that person get better, the same way the game is going to help you get better as a quarterback.’’ Those were words that Wilson embraced, a sentiment he vowed to embody on a day he didn’t let the recent Super Bowl loss keep him from his customary Tuesday visit to Seattle Children’s Hospital. “You continue to grow, you continue to learn from the lessons,’’ he said. “You guys are probably going to be asking me questions for the next 15 years, hopefully. So when you guys ask me this 15 years from now, hopefully I’ll have several Super Bowl rings, and you guys will ask different questions.” Wilson reiterated that he couldn’t wait to get back on the field. One thing we’ve learned about Wilson by now is that he’ll be single-minded in his quest to ensure he’ll be ready in the next crucial moment in the next big game. If people thought this game was going to break Russell Wilson, they haven’t been paying attention. “Every time I’m in that situation again,’’ he said, “I believe I’m going to have success again.” He relies on God for his strength and success, to Russell Wilson, is doing the best he can and leaving the results up to the Lord. When I was in high school, I played football in the Fall and loved it. I played soccer in the Spring and loved it as well. In soccer I played “rover’ in the defensive end. My football conditioning prepped me pretty well to keep up with the forwards on the other soccer teams. Yes, I got a few yellow cards, but it was all part of the game. I also had the ability to kick the ball a long way. After encouragement from coaches and friends, I had considered placekicking in football but I loved playing linebacker and we already had a great All-State kicker (that went on to kick at A&M and for the Patriots in the pros). But he was going to graduate after my junior year. I prayed about it and decided to kick for the team. The day I was going to tell my buddies and coach about my decision, a good friend of mine made the announcement first. I will never forget the moment. “Hey guys, Tony Franklin is leaving so I’m going to go out for kicker senior year,” said my friend Bill Adams. My heart sank. I was not going to compete against my friend. I already started on defense and didn’t need to kick to make the team, but I had grown excited about the idea. But the dream died right there on the steps of Arlington Heights High School. Bill went on to kick very well that year and ended up kicking at Texas Tech. But I wonder sometimes what might have been? Would I have been a good kicker? Would I have broken records and won games and celebrated on the shoulders of my teammates? I will never know. We will never know. We don’t need to know. Because the Lord has our back every time. I was not supposed to be a kicker. God altered my course to lead me to His plan. And he’s right 100% of the time. May we all rest in His direction. Let’s not shy away from making the hard calls. We simply do our best and leave the results up to a loving God. We’re not “lucky” and our lives are not controlled by “fate.” We trust that God has a bigger plan. We can glory in defeat because He truly can “bring good from bad.” So, make the decision, throw the pass, trust… …and leave the results up to the Lord. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bill Lamkin

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing”-1Thess. 5:11 I found out the other day that a dear professor of mine from back in Graduate School passed away. I had no idea. He lived down in south Texas, a long way from the Ozarks and he and I emailed back and forth for years. He would call occasionally and promise to come see me “all the way up there in the Missouri.” Bill Lamkin was such a blessing to my life. He was an encourager, a builder-upper, an urger, a prodder and a blessing. I would not be where I am today without his God-appointed influence on my life. As a senior, I was finishing my undergraduate degree in psychology at Baylor and was considering options. I was entertaining opportunities all over the place. I was looking at seminaries, working with Young Life, playing soccer with Athletes in Action ministry and some other ideas. One other option was to continue my studies in Graduate School. But that was a long shot. My GPA was only fair to average. So that spring, I went to meet with the Dean of the Baylor Graduate College, Bill Lamkin. I had never met him before. He asked about my dreams and took a genuine interest in me. I explained that my GPA was fair and that I had not taken the GRE entrance exam. He asked more questions about my future. I told him I would like to one day be a Professional Counselor and help people with their problems. He explained, “Joey, you’ll have to take the GRE and make a passing score to get into the Baylor Graduate School first. Then, you’ll have to be accepted into the Counseling Graduate program and make satisfactory grades your first semester. It all depends on whether you really want this. If you do, I’ll take care it.” I explained to him that I wasn’t sure of the Lord’s direction. We shook hands and I told him I’d be in touch, if it could all wait. He said, “Fine.” I left to work at Kanakuk, a Christian athletic camp, for the summer. While at camp, all the other doors shut for various reasons. It seemed the Lord was leading me to Graduate School. But there were a lot of hurdles to jump over first. In July of that summer, I quickly registered for the GRE, took the test in a town nearby camp, and made qualifying scores for the Baylor Graduate School and the counseling program. I phoned Bill Lamkin and he encouraged me to make plans to be in Waco in the fall. I felt so honored. I felt blessed. I had a long way to go, but I was confident that the Lord had sent this special man to help me through this season. I lived in Waco, worked at a restaurant, and began my studies. It was tough. Each student was assigned a Supervisor. Mine was Bill Lamkin. I’m sure, as the Dean, he didn’t have specific students, but he chose to help me. Our meetings and lunches were full of questions about me, my studies, my life and the girl I had met while working at camp. That girl, Jeanie, would become my wife in the spring and move to Waco with me. As I worked through the program, I cherished my times with Dr. Lamkin. Life was not easy as I was working a couple of jobs and keeping up with challenging studies. But Bill Lamkin had the right words and stories to tell me to keep me going. He was God’s messenger to me to persevere and finish the course. Though he is gone now, Dr. Lamkin left a great legacy. He allowed the Lord to use him in so many lives, mine included. I appreciate him so much and hope I’m as willing as he was to reach out. I know I was an “extra” in his life. He was a busy Dean, after all. But he valued me, honored me and represented the love of Jesus in my life. Rest in peace, Bill Lamkin. Of all people, you deserve the joy of heaven. Your selfless life has ushered you into beautiful paradise. May our lives follow your pattern of encouragement… … in helping others through life. By Eric Joseph Staples@