Loyally Loving…

Another aspect to last night hanging out with Scott and Emmaus Life members was the video we watched. For the past few months, we’ve been watching videos from Francis Chan’s Basic Series. After each video we share our thoughts about what God has been teaching us throughout the week and what parts of the video lined up with what God has been doing in our individual lives. As my last two posts have been about, God showed me something in the video we watched last night. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but reflecting back on it now, God was showing me what He wants from me: loyalty.

To back up a bit, with every Basic video, there are a few actors and actresses playing out various scenes to give a metaphorical (sometimes literal) example of what Chan is talking about. In last night’s video, we saw the main characters we’ve seen in nearly every video before staying with a community living on a beach. These characters have gone through some interesting things together and have invested into each other as though they couldn’t choose otherwise. And they had finally come to a big family of people who loved freely and recklessly, yet were gentle and joyful. It seemed as though they had found their home after their long journey in the other videos.

Yet one of the girls in the small group of friends seemed uncomfortable. She appeared to enjoy the people they were with, but it was clear to her traveling companions that something was on her mind. Sitting on a log on the beach, she stared into the distance even when she was looking right at one of her friends. And then again at the dinner table with all the people of the community; she laughed and enjoyed everyone’s presence, but very clearly had something on her mind. All the while Francis Chan was talking about how church works and how we seem to treat it like an event to experience rather than people to get to know. Toward the end of the video, she got up early in the morning while everyone was sleeping, and left. She returned to the journey.

What happened next I think reflects the kind of people God wants us to be. When her friends woke up, they noticed immediately that she was gone. And instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, they sprang up, gathered what clothes they’d need, and headed out after her. Instead of letting her leave and going her separate way, they chose to stay with her. It meant they had to give up comfort and security, but that never seemed to cross their minds because they were barely awake when they left and were still putting shoes on as they ran.

I don’t think the message was to be constantly on the move like Jesus was. It wasn’t about discomfort on mission trips being better than comfort in church-like settings; it was about sticking with your companions. It was about loyalty. When they finally found her some distance away in the wilderness, they didn’t ask why she left so suddenly or what was going on in her mind to leave such a heavenly setting; they hugged her, grabbed her bags, and marched on with her.

What Scott Lamb has always been challenging Emmaus Life with is establishing and retaining a strong relational bond with each other so that if any of us were to move to a different city or a different country, we’d go with them in spirit if not in body also. They wouldn’t become somebody we used to know that we’d happen to bump into years down the road at a coffee shop where we’d make some awkward chit-chat about life and how quickly time flies. No; we’d be checking up on them from time to time in our own time – not relying on emails from the pastor to inform us how they’re doing. Even in their absence, they’d still be present with their personalities, their intentions, their love of God, and their involvement with us when they were in the same room. Loyalty like that is what we’re after.

I’ve always glossed over the parts in Paul’s letters where he talks a bunch about “longing to be with” that particular community he’s writing to. But now those are the only verses that come to mind when I think of the video we watched and when I think of Scott’s vision – and by extension, our vision – with Emmaus Life. What I mean is, Paul was such an intentional relational investor that even if he was miles and miles away investing in other people, he was still thinking of all those people he had already invested in long ago. He was so moved for them that he wrote them letters. Because of that devotion, that loyalty to those communities, we have New Testament Scriptures.

Toward the end of the Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo begins a journey he thought on his own. His friend Sam comes running up behind Frodo as he takes off in a boat to cross a river. Sam doesn’t let the lack of a boat or the lack of swimming skills stop him; he just starts wading through the water chasing after Frodo. He nearly drowned because of his loyalty to Frodo. May we have such a loyalty with each other.

“Peace to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible,” – Ephesians 6:23-24

God bless.

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Achieve It…

“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have,” – 2 Corinthians 8:11-12, NIV

Tonight brought about another one of those “What am I doing with my life?” moments. Only hours after I had finished a long day at work, which capped off a rather exhausting work week, I sat down with my roommate Mikey to watch one of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries, Without Bias.

Most people my age know all about Michael Jordan and have at least heard of Larry Bird. But what about Len Bias? Does that ring any bells? Until tonight, I had no idea who he was, but apparently he was a pretty big deal. He competed with Michael Jordan face to face in college. And beat him. What he is most famous for, though, happened the day after he was drafted as the overall number 2 pick in the 1986 NBA Draft to the Boston Celtics.

He died.

Celebrating the dawning of his professional career (and a brand new endorsement from Reebok), he and some friends were drinking in their apartment. Not long after the drinking started, cocaine was presented to him and his friends and they started snorting it. Minutes later, Bias started having seizures and was soon rushed to the hospital. Early the next morning, he was pronounced dead.

Flowers were first delivered to the funeral by Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, which seems to indicate that great athletes know their own; Len Bias would have been one of them. But there was something else that stood out to me beyond Michael and Larry’s response; something that was repeated throughout the documentary, from different people and in their own words.

“Dream come true.”

No, dying from a cocaine overdose (one snort of pure cocaine with no alcohol in his system – apparently he had not been drinking that night) was not the dream come true. What his former college and high school teammates and coaches – and even the guy who would have been his next coach, Red Auerbach – kept saying about Len Bias was that he was a kid who, on the night of the draft, was so ecstatic because he had accomplished his goals. In high school he told his teammates he was going pro. Some four years later, he proved it.

Len Bias’ story to me isn’t only one of heart-wrenching tragedy; it’s a story of how crucial it is to set your goals in life high – much higher than everyone else around you. As the verse at the start of this post indicates, it’s not just a worldly belief that tells me this. It’s a Godly thing. It’s a Godly thing to harness your energy and focus to cultivate your gifts and talents for something greater than your own rewards – something greater than your own gain. Even if you fail. Even if you work day in and day out for almost 20 years of your life for that one goal and die a day after you reach it.

God doesn’t care so much for titles and fame. He cares for the pursuit. It pleases God to see His creation striving for something beyond monetary gain or worldly accolade. It pleases Him when He gives His servants varying amounts of talents and they set out to do something with it. They set out to make good of what they’ve been given.

“[Success is the] peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.” – John Wooden.

With Wooden’s (one of the greatest college basketball coaches – UCLA) definition in mind, it’s apparent to me that Len Bias died a successful man. How he died – despite its overwhelming depth of tragedy – is proof enough to his success. He died in celebration. He died knowing that what he had set out to do years before was accomplished. He did it. It was done. And moments later, he was gone.

Paul urged the Corinthians to finish what they started so that their desire could prove fruitful. What I find most important in the quoted passage above is verse 12; “For if the willingness if there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” In other words, desire makes or breaks success.

What do you desire to do? Have you done much to cultivate that desire? Can you say that you are giving your all to see your dream through? I’m not really asking you, though; I’m asking myself. I desire to be a published author – be it a magazine, newspaper, or (as I hope) book. I write a blog to cultivate that desire – somewhat. But I know that I am not giving my all. I know that I am not making the effort to do the best of which I am capable.

I don’t write all this to beat myself up; just to straighten myself out. Like I said, it’s a “What am I doing with my life?” moment; it’s a self evaluation intended to redirect one to the proper course of one’s life. As Paul says later on in 2 Corinthians, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves,” 13:5, NRSV. It isn’t so that we become depressed about what we haven’t accomplished; it’s so that we are able to make sure that no moment in our lives is wasted. It’s to make sure we are striving for that which we set out to do – even if we’ve already failed at it.

To many, Len Bias’ story is one of “what not to do”; don’t do drugs, kids. To me, though, it’s a story of what to do; find your dream, find your passion, find your desire, and achieve it. Giving the effort to do the best of which you are capable is what God wants.

Achieve it.

God bless.

Jesus: A Relationship in Progress…

Last Monday was a great day. It was sunny, I got to ride my bike to work, and when you breathed in through your nose, you could sense that spring had actually arrived. Of course, the next day was met with sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a new bottle of Zyrtec, but hey, Monday was cool.

Spring often leaves me feeling rather nostalgic. Two years ago I wrote a post about how this season is a sort of mile marker for my faith. In it I talked about how, during my freshman year of college, I had finally come to see Jesus as a person – a person with whom I could have a relationship. What has changed since that post isn’t Jesus’ relational aspect, but rather my commitment to that relationship.

As I quickly found out after graduating last spring, my relationship with Jesus was much easier in college. It was much easier to get some daily reading in. It was much easier to meet up with some friends for church. And it was much easier to pray on a regular basis. I was only working two or three days a week and school had only taken up a couple hours of my time each day. With several Christian roommates and a lot of free time, it was much easier for me to dive into Scripture, or pray, or worship, or whatever else God led me to. Since I’ve been out, though, I’ve really had to work.

What I mean by that is, like most meaningful relationships, you really have to work at it to make it the best it could be. With Jesus, you really have to go out of your own way to meet with Him. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve only had a few moments where this actually happened. Monday and Tuesday of last week were really good, but ever since it’s been a strain. Praying with Jesus and actually focusing on what I was praying about and why has been difficult. Why? Because my responsibilities around the apartment, with my two jobs, and with my finances often interrupt my time with God. Not to say responsibilities are evil (though they often feel like it); but to say that in order for any relationship with God to be meaningful, to have an impact, He must be our primary focus. Everything else must fall in line after Him.

I say all this because I haven’t approached my day-to-day with Him as my focus. Sure, I’ve had plenty of days where He was, but I think I’ve had more days where He wasn’t. I try to blame it on work, chores, and whatever else I can, but the bottom line is there is a responsibility that comes with a relationship with God. And it’s one that I haven’t fought for.

As I’ve said, it was much easier in college to surround myself with Christian friends, Bible study groups, and fellowship. With work, however, I find very few Christian friends, little time for church or Bible studies, and hardly any time at all for fellowship outings. And honestly, it sucks. Sure, I love my coworkers, work can be fun, and nights alone are often needed. But as I’ve written about recently, fellowship with Jesus freaks is essential for one’s spiritual growth and, most importantly, with one’s own relationship with Him.

This spring, as I see it now, might bring fewer working hours and hopefully more time to invest in a church body. In the mean time, what I hope to focus on is my own time with God. It might mean getting up a little earlier every morning to read and pray. It might mean hanging out with my Christian friends even when I’m completely exhausted. And it might even mean accepting fewer hours of work each week. Relationships (with our friends, spouses, future spouses) require certain sacrifices. Why should we ever think that it’d be any different with God?

If success is defined by something beyond financial well-being, then why should we work so hard for it unnecessarily? Instead, perhaps we ought to use that energy toward an authentic relationship with God.

God bless.

Just Do It…

No, I’m not advocating anything for Nike. I already do enough of that with the clothes I wear. Instead I’m thinking about the spiritual aspect of just doing it, just getting stuff done – not because you want to, but because you need to.
Between my two jobs, I worked 11 hours yesterday. And apart from discovering that both listen to the same radio station and thereby doubles the amount of repeated songs I listen to on a daily basis, I also discovered what kind of man God is recreating me to be: A responsible one.

Maturity is not how old you are; it’s the ability to discern the difference between the things you need to do and the things you want to do, and then acting accordingly. I had to work two jobs yesterday, which isn’t something I really want to do. But it was something I needed to do because I need the money to be able to make a living on my own. What’s a little crazier than working 11 hours between two jobs in one day is willingly getting up at 6:30 the next morning to get coffee with some friends.

I asked myself why I was starting my coffee pot when the sun hadn’t even come up and I didn’t really get an answer until after coffee with my friends Courtney and Ivy. It felt as though I forgot something – something important. What I realized was that my sense of laziness – that urge to cancel your coffee meeting in order to sleep in a little longer – had been sacrificed.

At first it didn’t feel good. It felt like I was making a mistake that I’d eventually have to pay for later today. But when my lazy urges were overcome by the act of getting coffee started and hopping in the shower, my habit of procrastination had been broken. It’s a habit I lived off of in college – leaving all the important assignments and study sessions until the very last day (sometimes hour) to complete them. But I now live in a world where procrastination has no place.

I can’t put off going to work until I feel like it. I can’t put off writing Sunday’s message for the high school kids until Sunday morning. And I can’t keep canceling get-togethers with friends just because I want to sleep. Getting up at 6:30 didn’t just mean I was getting coffee with friends; it meant I was changing into a person who does what needs to be done. It meant God is turning me into a person of self control.

Another way of looking at this just-doing-it thing is practice for future responsibilities, like being a husband and a father. My two friends, Ray and Sarah Schafer, have been living at the Derbyshire from time to time this summer and I’ve learned a lot about being a good father from Ray (they have twins, Solomon and Sophia).

Schafer Babies...
Bath time...

If I had to sum up what that is, it’d be simply doing what needs to be done. If diapers need changing, he changes them. If babies need to be fed and Sarah isn’t around to feed them, he feeds them. And even though his personal comfort might be sacrificed, he never fails to show his two kids affection – to play with them, hug them, and kiss them often.

I want to be that kind of man – a man who surrenders his own desires to fulfill, as much as possible, the desires of others, mainly his wife and children. I want my future wife to love me not only because I’m so attractive and athletic, but because I’m committed – because I have the “just do it” mentality and it’s directed toward loving her and our future kids. Such a love reflects God.

Employed by a King…

Every ounce of energy that I had this morning desperately wanted to return to bed at 8:30 am. My first class wasn’t until noon, so I certainly could have gotten away with an extra hour, but not really. You see, taking the two classes from Falk that I’m taking requires a ton of reading. And not only reading, but a relatively good understanding of what’s being said in the readings so that even though I may not fully understand what’s being said, I’d know how to ask the right questions to find out, which basically means that I read certain passages of the text(s) over a couple times. And I took notes. And I edited my notes. And I read the passages again. It’s all very exhausting and I’m only in week one of winter term.

What helped me immensely today, though, is noteworthy. This term, unlike last term, requires a different approach to the college life. I have to be much more dedicated, much more serious about my studies. Like, I actually have to study. So what I’ve decided to do and have been doing for more than a week is read a chapter of Proverbs in the morning, meditate over the text for a good fifteen to twenty minutes, and then do the same thing at night before I go to bed. Usually there are tidbits of things that I carry with me throughout the day, but today’s was something that I hope to carry with me throughout this term, especially when I’m exhausted and drained. It’s this theme of working as for a king.

Proverbs 22 doesn’t have too much towards the end and I didn’t really catch on to much when I was reading this morning. But right at the end was verse 29; “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Jumping down to the footnotes, I didn’t get much of an explanation or commentary on this verse, other than how it didn’t blatantly copy from The Instruction of Amenemope – an ancient Egyptian text. But I thought over the words themselves for a moment and really tried to envision the imagery. For whatever reason, I pictured myself studying the material I have for my classes as though I was employed by a King named Jesus.

I think I have too much of a focus on merely getting the work done and getting by. More often than not, I go through school with this survival mentality; or at least I did last term. But right here in the Scriptures is an indication that God wants us to care about the quality of our work; not just getting it done. Yes, we have deadlines and due dates for assignments, but they shouldn’t encourage us to lax the quality of our work just to get it done; they should stir us to take what we do seriously and to become skillful, to become a quality worker, with what we do.

In my Dead Sea Scrolls class, we’ve been studying the community of Qumran and many of their rules that they created to live by. From today’s class I felt there was one thing troubling my mind and challenging my heart; diligence. This community had nightly prayers, frequent nights of studying Scripture, and nightly meals together. They were dedicated, to say the least. Though they believed there would be a different Messiah than Jesus (if they ever even heard of Jesus), I have to respect that they fought to live out their convictions and remain steadfast and diligent. When I walked out of the classroom, I saw this as a challenge to my faith; to become a skillful follower of Jesus, to truly and passionately walk with the Lord as though he were my King, as though I was writing my research papers and preparing my presentations for Him.

In reality, I am. But it’s not something that’s constantly on my mind and reading this morning’s chapter of Proverbs mixed with today’s Dead Sea Scrolls class really beckoned me to embody what I believe, to live it out as diligent as the community of Qumran lived out their beliefs. Granted, they didn’t really survive in trying to live out their beliefs, but then again, they lived in ancient times when living anywhere in general was difficult. Where I am at and where I’m heading, I really don’t have much of a concern for dying out in the wilderness. It could happen, but it’s unlikely.

My point is basically this; our lives on this earth are not meant to be mundane accounts of how we survived college, work, or whatever else. Our lives are meant to be novels of adventure, stories lived out in dedication and honor of a King. We were meant to persevere over the trials and challenges this world throws at us because we know that we have a King who has conquered already. All that remains for us is to live lives of diligence, of serious devotion, serious passion, as though we were trying to please our Father, our King. No, it’s not all serious as though we were separated from love; it’s a diligence towards God and His ways that stems from His love.

With the heart of a child, the wisdom of a sage, the dedication of a relentless soldier, and the diligence of a skilled worker – like the craftsmanship of a carpenter – we are called to follow Jesus – called to be walking pillars of faith. I have many goals for this term, but the one atop them all is to work as if what I produce will be displayed before my King.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop…

Running sucks sometimes. I mean, I know it’s supposed to help you out in the long-haul, but as for right now, it kind of sucks. I’ve been running periodically throughout the last month or so in a small attempt to prepare my body for next year’s Eugene marathon. Chances are I probably won’t run, but right now I like the idea of it all. And it certainly gives me something to do over the summer.

Today’s 3.4 mile run was tough, though. I hadn’t run for about five days prior to today and that run was just under two miles. This run involved quite a few more hills and required me to maintain a steady pace that lasted a little longer than a 2-mile pace. Right about halfway through the third mile is when I really hit the wall. My route starts from the intersection of Kinsrow Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. From there I take a turn onto Leo Harris Parkway and run up to the Mill Race Bridge, then cross over it towards the Autzen footbridge. After I cross the Autzen footbridge, I follow a bike path that leads to the EWEB building and then I follow Coburg Road back to MLK Blvd. and then head home. And that final stretch is exhausting.

Usually the wind is at your back, so you don’t have much resistance for that near-mile-long stretch. But today the wind was in my face and although it was kind of refreshing for my body, it really made me work. And it dried out my mouth and throat pretty badly. As I was pumping my legs for all they were worth, I suddenly thought of Philippians 3:14; “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

There are many areas in life where physical challenges often represent spiritual challenges. Like how I’ve been training for the Eugene marathon (though kind of pathetically), I find it necessary to train for the marathon God has got us running for the rest of our lives. And just like my run today, there are going to be many moments that are difficult. I remember as I was passing Autzen Stadium on MLK that I got the overwhelming urge to just stop. In fact there was one brief moment where my legs just stopped kicking. For a split second I actually thought about just walking the rest of the way, but then I remembered why I was running and I forced myself to keep going.

I find it critical, even essential, to remind myself why I believe in Jesus, why I choose to follow Him though the river of the world is surging in the opposite direction. Walking back through the memories of life-altering moments is good and even recalling my testimony is helpful. But what I’ve found to be the most helpful in recalling why I strain to follow Jesus is to picture what life might be like without Him. Trying to picture life without my Christian friends – my brothers and sisters in the Spirit, without Calvary Fellowship, without Cross Training or even without my Bibles and Christian books is difficult. Even at the mere point of changing my lifestyle, dropping this whole Christian thing would be devastating. But I think there’s something deeper.

I’ve been a believer for about eight years now and for a while I never truly understood why. I knew that going to church on a regular basis might keep me out of trouble, at least for a while, and I knew that reading the Bible on a regular basis might teach me something about life. But beyond all that, I didn’t see much of a pull. As I grew older and as I met new people, experienced new parts of life (like college), and suffered a few more heartaches, I began to see and understand why I do what I do. It’s not just because it’ll keep me out of trouble or because most of my friends are Christian. It’s because I have felt Jesus’ presence within this world, within my life, and within my heart.

This is where I’m going to stop making sense to some people. Why? Well, I believe in the Trinity – the Godhead three in one, where Jesus is both God and the Holy Spirit. Basically I believe that Jesus = God = Holy Spirit or however you want to arrange the names. I’m not sure about the science of it all and I don’t think I have to be. But I believe that when the Spirit touches our hearts, God and Jesus are also there. This means that Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 2:11-13;

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

talk about Jesus, too. There is a fire within my heart that I didn’t put there and that I didn’t ask for, but was freely given to me so that I may truly decide whether or not I want to live a life of mystery, but of peace also, or continue on with the life of depression and hopelessness, to just go with the flow of the world’s river.

To this day I do not know why I’ve been pulled into this life with Jesus, but I know one thing: I can’t turn back. The life I lived eight years ago is no longer a life that I can truly live with any kind of true joy. Perhaps if I gave myself over to every sinful desire and allowed myself to become complacent to my heart’s pain, then maybe I might be able to live a life entirely apart from Christ. But I doubt it. Why? Because there will be some lonely nights in that lifestyle. And in those lonely nights certain painful memories will return and as I’ve already experienced, I can’t handle those on my own. The healing and life that Christ has brought has given me strength to handle the painful and haunting memories. Without Him, I don’t know how long I’d last.

Because of Jesus, I will never be the same. No matter where I go or what I do and no matter how hard I may try to run from Him, He will always pop into my mind, even if it’s just a fond memory of Him. And like the prodigal son suddenly thinking of how good things were with his father before he ran away, I’d have to think that I’ll return if only to be His slave.

If walking with God is like walking against the flow of a river, then the best thing for me to do is dig my heels in and get ready. If walking with God is like running a marathon, then the best thing for me to do is to keep my legs pumping, no matter what. And if walking with God is like walking through a desert for forty years, then the key to surviving spiritual fatigue is leaning on the brothers and sisters out there with me. If my feet slip in the river, if my legs stop running, or if I stray from the pack in the desert, my soul will be forfeit and no matter how pleasurable this world may be, it won’t have the meaning that my life with Christ has had.

I just can’t turn around.

In Loving Memory of Shawn Phelps…

My eulogy…

Shawn’s passing hit me on my way to my Spanish class yesterday. I didn’t break down, but I started thinking over what he had truly meant to me during the time that I had known him. When I was a sophomore in high school, he was a senior. That was the same year that my brother, Jim Cushman, had left for the Air Force; the first time that I had to go to school without my brother around. There are many things that my brother taught me and showed me when I was younger and he has been a major role model for my life. When he left for boot camp, I didn’t have that role model anymore. And naturally when I returned to school in the fall of 2003, I sort of saw many different seniors as role models. There were many older guys who helped teach and lead me through life, though they never knew it, and I’d have to say that Shawn was one of those men.

I didn’t know him very well outside of school and we never hung out, but we did play a lot of basketball together and we related to each other quite a bit in the athletic fields. The passion and intensity he had shown for whatever game he played – even if it was just a pick-up game of basketball – taught me something about life, something that I will always remember.

Sports, like life, aren’t easy to win. They demand the best of your effort, the best of your talents, the most of your energy, the most of your focus, and every bit of your heart – even when you’ve run out of gas. I didn’t read these things in books, I didn’t take a class over them; I learned them from watching guys like Shawn take the court, the football field, and the track. And granted I’m only an outsider looking in on those sports because I didn’t play football, didn’t run track, and didn’t play much basketball, but I did play soccer, golf and baseball. What I had seen Shawn do at Voris Field or in the Taft High gym, I tried to take to Kirtsis Ball Park and to Salishan. Without words, he taught me something about dedication, commitment, and leaving a reputation – a legacy – wherever you go. Saying all of this makes me wonder what in the world could have happened to change all that, to take away that life.

Truth be told I’ve been down that road before; I nearly took my own life eight years ago. And honestly, I don’t really know what had stopped me from doing it, but I know what was pushing me towards it. It’s something dark, something incomprehensible, something terribly frightening. Within these last eight years I’ve found hope and faith in God; Someone to be the Light that I need when these dark moments cover over me. Now I can’t give you any reason or any idea why things turned out differently for Shawn. I can’t tell you what was going on in his life, in his mind, in his heart, but I can tell you that it was probably the most frightening thing he’s ever dealt with. And I can also tell you that there is no one in Lincoln City, no one in Oregon, no one in the world who had any influence on him. What influenced him, as I believe, was something outside of this world, something outside of what we can know, something very dark, and something very evil.

What are we to do after this devastation? What can we do after such a heavy loss to one’s family, one’s community, one’s friends? I could write a book about following God, but I think I would even get bored with it. Instead, I think we can all remember what we loved the most about Shawn, what we were taught by Shawn, who Shawn was to each of us, and the legacy that the real Shawn – the Shawn that we remember – has left. That’s what’ll push us forward, to dust ourselves off, and compete in this life as Shawn did in football, basketball and track. That’s how I’ll remember Shawn Phelps. God bless.