DEAR FAMILY AND FRIENDS,
“Amy, what is Christmas all about?” I asked our two-year-old daughter.
“It’s Baby Jesus’ birthday, Daddy!” she answered enthusiastically.
“That’s right, Amy!”
I know this letter is lengthy, yet it is one of my more heart-felt letters that I have written. I hope you read on.
In November, I flew to Colorado for a physician’s conference. Unfortunately, my whole family could not go. This was my first time of ever really being separated from my family. I wondered how I should prepare my two year old. I decided to tell her the day before I left – “Amy, tomorrow Daddy is going to go on an airplane for a few days and then I will come back home.” I held her hands and watched her eyes to look for signs of understanding. I knew immediately that she understood when tears welled up in her eyes, she uncontrollably cried, and threw her head back and went limp in my arms. I held her tight as she continued to cry. My heart melted with hers. On the plane I remembered this and the last hug and kiss I gave my wife, Lori. The last goodnight hug and kiss I gave to my son, Jonathan. I treasured them – I thought that those may be my last. I kept trying to reassure myself how safe airplane travel is – but still I thought that this may be my last day of life. How would my family manage without me? Have I provided for them financially? Emotionally? Spiritually? Billy Graham stated what I felt when he said to live each day so that you may say I have “no remorse, no regret, and no retreat.”
At the physician’s conference, Dr. James Dobson was telling of an experience where his friend, Pete Maravich (a basketball superstar) collapsed and died in his arms. He realized that the most important thing in his life was his relationship with God and his relationship with people. I believe that this is so. These are the only two things that have any lasting significance – my relationship with God my Creator, and my relationships with people.
These are sobering thoughts for me, but help me to realize the importance of these relationships and how I must live each day as if it were my last. I’d like to share with you about these important relationships in my life.
First, my wife, Lori. In October we have been married for five years. She is the joy in my life. I give her much credit – it is not easy to be married to a physician, especially since for three of the five years we have been short-staffed at work. Praise God – we are finally fully-staffed. (Thank you to all those who have been praying for this) She has been very supportive through all this. She is also a great mother to our two children – if you haven’t heard already, we’re expecting our third child in May, 1994 (for those curious – Jonathan will be 15 months old in May, and no, we’re not sure how many children we’ll have!). It really takes a lot of love, patience and organization to be a full-time homemaker. Lori also attends a weekly Bible Study which she really enjoys and is learning a lot. Lori also teaches Amy at home for three hours per week, using a Christian preschool curriculum.
Amy is 2 ½ years old. We see many good character qualities developing in her. Patience – as she waits for her turn to talk. Obedience – even though she at times rebels. Mercy – as Jonathan knocks down her toys. Forgiveness – as she asks for our forgiveness when she misbehaves. Amy is a happy girl, eager to learn and has a great imagination.
Jonathan truly is a bundle of joy – a BIG bundle! He is usually happy, unless he’s hungry or tired. If he sees you, he loves to crawl over, pull up on your leg, and begin making sounds like, “ Ah…uhhh,” which means “Pick me up.” So you bend down and grab under his arms and lift – if your back can withstand the strain of lifting 25 pounds from the jackknife position. Now your day has just begun – he doesn’t like to be put down! He really feels like one of our 25 pound sacks of rice. After ½ hour, my arms are killing me! I believe God gave mothers special baby biceps. We all love him. He always has a big smile, a cute giggle, and a runny nose for you.
Lastly, I’d like to share with you the most significant relationship in my life – that is, my relationship with God. Remember when I was on the airplane back in November? Although anxious, I thought, “If this plane crashes… I know that heaven awaits me.” I was not always so confident. I used to think that you can go to heaven if you are good enough. Well, I’ve found out that no one can be good enough. To find out what the answer is, please read on.
To begin with, I’d like to give you some of my background. I grew up as the second oldest of five children. I grew up under loving parents. A big shock to my nice world came when my father suddenly died of cancer at the age of 53. I asked myself, “Why?” Life just didn’t seem fair. I found no answers as I graduated from college and entered medical school. Other than this one setback, life continued to go as I had planned. In my eyes and everyone else’s, I was headed down the road of happiness and success. Yet the further I went the more empty and lonely I became – to the point of wanting to quit after three years. I could hardly stand spending my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays alone. My biggest emptiness came from my feeling that the world had lied to me – I could already see that there would be no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. My dad has struggled up the same ladder and just when he should have received the fruits of his labors, his life was snuffed out. I was beginning to see that money and success do not equal happiness. This emptiness in my life sent me searching for true meaning in life.
Through my sister, I heard about the church my family now attends. I initially tried to keep my distance, yet the people were friendly and I was curious to find out more about what they believed. I discovered that they believed the Bible to be totally true and that they knew that they had eternal life. Now THIS seemed to be what I was searching for – or could it be another scam? A couple of men in the church helped me study the Bible. I had never really studied the Bible before and to my amazement, it is quite readable. If this Book is true, this Jesus was an incredible person. Could He be God as He said He is? How could all the hundreds of prophesies have come true, all the miracles be done, and Jesus’ tomb be found empty? The more I read, the more I became convinced that Jesus is who He said He is. I learned of a God who hates sin (but He loves us more so He sent His Son into the world that the world may not perish, but have eternal life). Sin separates us from God, just as sin separated Adam from God in the book of Genesis. How can fellowship with God be restored? Only by dealing with the sin, yet every day I sin – some big, some little, yet it’s still sin. Jesus said He is the WAY – Jesus paid the penalty of sin when He died on the cross. There is no other way or else Jesus died for no reason. Jesus gives me a free choice – to either accept or reject His death as full payment for my sins.
You guessed my response. In 1984, I confessed my sinful nature and accepted Jesus as my only hope. I have given my life to serving Him and Him alone. Certainly I have struggles – yet none too large that God can not handle. God has promised me eternal life with Himself – what greater joy and peace can we find in this life?
Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. You are special in my life and I hope you have given your life to following Jesus. If you haven’t I hope this note will help stir up those inborn needs in all of us – for hope and meaning in life, for love, for lasting significance. Who knows how many more days or years are left in our life? In your life, live to have “no regrets, no remorse, and no retreat.” Whatever your pursuits and goals – just remember in the end – “just be there” (in heaven).
Merry Christmas! May this Christmas season remind you of God’s great love for you.
RICH (FOR LORI, AMY, JONATHAN, AND BABY)
IT'S BABY JESUS' BIRTHDAY, DADDY!
I THOUGHT THAT THIS MAY BE MY LAST DAY OF LIFE
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN HIS LIFE WAS HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH PEOPLE
WE HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR FIVE YEARS
HE ALWAYS HAS A BIG SMILE, A CUTE GIGGLE, AND A RUNNY NOSE FOR YOU
LIFE JUST DIDN'T SEEM FAIR
THEY BELIEVED THE BIBLE TO BE TOTALLY TRUE AND THEY KNEW THAT THEY HAD ETERNAL LIFE
I HAVE STRUGGLES -- YET NONE TOO LARGE THAT GOD CANNOT HANDLE
REMIND YOU OF GOD'S GREAT LOVE FOR YOU