Thursday, January 28, 2010


Dear Lord in Heaven,

It might seem a bit unusual to most people that I am writing an open prayer as a blog post, especially since my blog is such a public arena. In our society, we are tolerant of faith, but that tolerance is often only available so long as one’s faith remains a private affair. Well, to that notion, and to those who would take offense to this post, I shrug, and I say, “Deal with it.”

I needed to stop today, just to say “thanks”, just to let You know that I am grateful for all of the things that You have done for me in this life. Today marks my 35th year of living and breathing, of dreaming and daring, and I owe all of that to You, Lord. It is wholly because of Your unwavering affection that I have even gotten this far in my life, and while I know that I have not been the perfect example of my faith, that I have not always lived the most righteous life possible, You have stuck by me through each and every moment of it, through each pinnacle moment and each dark hour. You have always been there, Lord, acting as the involved arbiter smiling on the good times and quietly adjudicating the bad times, and I am so grateful to have the blessing of Your presence in my life more than any other.

I had been asked, at one time, why is my faith so strong? And whenever a question like that one arises, I think back to a very cold and late night, at Birmingham-Southern College, in January of 1998. It was the period between semesters, and many students of the liberal arts college were taking one-month interim courses or fulfilling their independent study projects. And I was at the midway point of BA499, the capstone course that every business student had to complete prior to exiting the college. It was a terrifying and stressful course wherein the expectations were quite high, and I was beginning to realize how awful I was at public speaking (at the time). This course required a lot of preparation, because it was designed to be an entrée into the MBA world, and so, I had to devote a lot of time to research and analysis. But that was not uncommon for BSC, a place where, as You know, intense studying is somehow neatly balanced with rowdy parties, flowing kegs, and opaque cups.

Well, on that one night, I happened to be studying with Brad H. Parsons in the solitude of the Olin science and math building. Brad had always struck me as a curious person, because he seemed to walk on a much more enlightened plane than the rest of us. At eighteen years old, he seemed to harbor more humility and reverence for You than any human being that I had ever met at the time. So, of course, a rigid, but obscenely arrogant, Gary Harrell was never really going to full understand Mr. Parsons. Nevertheless, Brad made for a great friend, and our deep, philosophical conversations also made for thought-provoking fodder. That was especially true of the one on that random night. I cannot remember what we were talking about prior, but I absolutely remember a singular question that sent a shockwave through my very soul. “Does your strong pride keep you from having greater faith or trusting in God?” he asked me.

While, at first, I was offended that those words would even came from this guy, I began to concede that I was nowhere near as Godly as I thought myself to be. I picked up the Bible that night, and on a few more nights that followed, but each reading only led me to utter frustration. And it was not until 2000 that I seemed to come closer to understanding. Unfortunately, even after that, it took some time, perhaps because pride does not die easily, if at all. It would take years before I realized it, and I doubt that he knew it at that time—but Brad’s question laid a springboard to something far greater.

Today, if I am ever asked why my faith is so strong, I can only answer by saying this: my faith and my humility must remain at the forefront of my person, because I know the monster that I have been without them. I witnessed the hurt and recklessness fashioned by my prideful nature in the absence of great reverence. It is an unspeakable occurrence, and it only proves to me that any man with the greatest capacity for good—especially this man—can lose his way and commit himself to great evil, should he walk in the absence of a God-centered purpose.

Understanding this fact now more than ever in my life, I must thank You so much for all that You have done for me over the past 35 years—and particularly for all of the people that you have put in my life to help show me the way.

Lord, I have to thank You for my family. I have amazing parents who have helped to build me into the man that I am today. Gregory and Pearla Lewis raised me. And I know that I do not say it often enough, but those two people are so important to me. They never let me slip, even though I have been hell for them to deal with at times, and I am so grateful to have them in my life, because they are never short on wisdom and love. I also thank You for my other parents, J.L. and Mary Harrell. They have been like “the auxiliary support system” for this great walk through life. And I could not go any further without thanking You for all of my awesome siblings. Of them, Bridget has been a good and constant best friend, and Jovan has been…well…Jovan, of course. (I am just kidding.) All of these people have been so pivotal to my life, Lord.

Of course, to go further, I thank You for a life also filled with so many good friends. It is impossible to mention one without forgetting to mention another, and so, I probably should not single anyone out in this post. However, I will speak in a very broad sense about a few of them. I thank You, Lord, for the true friend through whom you worked to soften my heart, and who, after years of trying, finally convinced me to open my Bible. (From his insistence, one chapter became a whole book, and that whole book led to more reading and a great change in my person.) I thank You for constancy of new and dear friend, a person who demonstrates meticulous leadership and broad generosity, everyday, going beyond all else to bring happiness to so many. (Even if this friend is unaware of it, I see in this person the fullness and total personification of Matthew 5:16.) I thank You for the forgiveness of another, Lord—one who I know You have marked for greatness and who is destined to change the world. And I thank You for a fourth who is only now beginning to find the way. (Lord, please be with that person.)

Lord, I must thank You for opportunity. It is no small wonder how I have gotten to where I am today. I know, quite fully, of just how awesome your influence has been in my life. Without You, there would literally have been no Axiom Strategy Advisors or even a Tempest Promotions. In fact, I often see Your hand coursing through the events in my life, opening doors where none seem to ever exist, or provided divine influence in moments where it seems no earthly influence could matter. For this help, for all that you do, I thank You.

I am not naïve to the fact that I, like most here, have a calling on my life. In fact, I try intently to pay attention to all of the signs. Striking words from strangers or acquaintances. Even bolder prophesies from spiritual men. Those quiet moments when only nature itself is speaking. And dropped bookmarks telling me to hold on to my faith. You never need to fret, Lord, for I am listening to them all.

As I go forward in this life, onward to the next 35 years (plus some) and into the time I call “The Age of Possibilities”, Lord, I ask only that You afford me a measure of strength and the clarity of sound judgment. I will need Your strength to get this right, if what I envision is part of Your Plan, and I will need Your help to stay focused and driven toward that mark. Hebrews 13:5 reads, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” And I flatly believe those words. I know that you will always stand with me, as you have to this point; I just hope that, as we, You and I, go forward together, I can make You proud of having taken the time to invest so much in this one guy.

Wow! Just saying that makes me pause...Indeed, I have been so very blessed in this life...

Thank You so much, Lord, and thank You for another year.


1 comment:

Nicolai said...

I admire your faith, my friend.

Everyone got to have his source of strenght, i mean, you got yours, so... that make only stronger.


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