I have fond memories
of the time when my children were young. You know my children
are all grown now. I remember when my youngest son, Anthony,
was five years old and he wanted to go to a birthday party
at Chuck-E-Cheese. He was going to a friend's birthday party,
and he is just five years old. When we left our house he
kept saying, "Dad, Mom, don't walk me in to Chuck-E-Cheese."
So we had this discussion as we drove to the party. Anthony
wanted to go into the party by himself. So we dropped him
off at the front door, but he was carrying a big green balloon
filled with helium. Green was his favorite color; in fact
it was one of the first words he learned. So he had this
great big green helium balloon and he walked in to Chuck-E-Cheese.
We dropped him off at the door, but then I quietly walked
in back of him and I just watched the balloon. I saw the
balloon bobbing along. As I was keeping my eye on the balloon
I thought, "This place is so crowded, he will never
find the party." I watched this balloon move through
Chuck-E-Cheese for about two minutes. Finally I walked over
to him and I said "Anthony," and his eyes were
as huge as saucers! He said, "I can't find the birthday
party." I replied, "Anthony, I'll help you."
All of a sudden he had this wonderful peace come over him,
I took his hand and we walked together through Chuck-E-Cheese
and we found the birthday party. It is amazing how we hold
on to our childish behaviors. We want to do things on our
own and we think we can manage all on our own. The fact
of the matter is we need a lot of help. Only when we seek
and receive and are willing to accept the help do we really
get where we want to go in life.
Today I want
to share with you some interesting information. In a recent
message I started talking about the 12 steps. I talked about
a gentleman by the name of John C. I talked about and shared
how this Cathedral would not be here today without John
C. Well, John C. happens to be John Crean. John Crean also
helped us build the prayer tower that we have here on the
campus. He also gave us Rancho Capistrano, a 97-acre ranch
in San Juan Capistrano, California. I talked about John
C. recently and that week John C. went to be with the Lord.
It is amazing how God works in people's lives. God knew
that John C. was coming home and the memorial service was
held here in the Cathedral for John. John is buried in the
What did John
C. live with? John C. lived with a creed called AA, the
12 steps. The first three steps are as follows
1. I will admit that I am powerless over my addictions and
that my life is unmanageable.
2. I will acknowledge that God is greater than I and that
He can bring restoration to my life.
3. I will turn my life over to God.
Those are the
first three steps of the 12 steps that are used by people
who are really struggling with addictions of all sorts and
I had a dear
friend of mine, a fishing buddy that I spent a lot of time
with who continued to struggle with his alcoholism. He was
a Vietnam Vet and he joined the Navy in hopes that he wouldn't
have to spend any time and see any real combat. When he
joined the Navy, they put him on a riverboat and sent him
up the delta and he saw all kinds of horrible things. When
he came home from Vietnam, he found his comfort in the bottle.
One night I went to his house and we had an intervention.
I said "You need some help." He agreed. So I drove
him up to a place called Capo by the Sea, which was a recovery
center and we checked him in. A week later I went and saw
him and he was happy and he was bright and he was alert.
He said, "Robert, I've learned something here."
I replied, "What have you learned?" He said, "I've
learned a line that I will take with me the rest of my life."
He said, "I can't, He can, let Him." That's what
he said! "I can't, He can, let Him." When I heard
him say those words it summarized the first three steps
of the 12 steps better than anything I'd ever heard before
in my life.
I can't, that's
where it begins. There are things in this life that we just
cannot control. It might be addictions, it may be outside
circumstances, but the fact of the matter is there are things
in life we cannot control.
I'll never forget
when my daughter, Christina was 2 years old, and she fell
from a play set that I had build out of wood. It was a lot
of fun building it and the greatest thing was giving it
to her on her birthday. One day she was up on the platform
and she fell about two feet to another wooden platform and
we didn't think anything of it. She hit her head a little
bit and we looked at her and she was fine and she went off
playing the rest of the day. There were no signs of any
trauma whatsoever. The next morning she got up and I was
ruffling her hair and as I did, I felt a bubble on her head.
It wasn't a knot like you would get when you normally hit
your head, it was a bubble like a water balloon under her
hair. I said to Donna, my wife, that we had better have
her checked out by a Doctor. Well, we did and she had a
skull fracture. We took her to a neurosurgeon who had suggested
we do surgery. I said, "The first thing we want to
do is get a CAT scan." We went to the radiologist who
said, "You need to somehow hold her still for four
minutes." Donna was pregnant at the time so she was
not allowed to go into the machine area because of the radiation.
That meant I was to go in there alone with Christina and
I had to convince this two year old child to sit motionless
in one of these great big machines. Is there anyone who
thinks they could sit still for four minutes and not move?
I can't. Four minutes is an eternity. Christina had just
learned how to pray and she would fold her hands and she
would close her eyes and she would hold perfectly still
as long as I prayed. So she sat there on this table and
she held her bottle with her teeth, and her blanket on her
chest and I said, "Christina, lets pray." She
folded her hands and I said, "Dear God thank You for
Christina, thank You for the doctors," and after about
30 seconds, I said, "Amen," and as soon as I said
Amen, guess what she did? She wanted to get up because the
prayer was over. The radiologist said, "You have to
hold her still for four minutes." So this time I started
praying and I started praying "Dear God, thank You
for Christina's big toe, and her little toe and all the
other little toes as well. Thank You for her foot, that
beautiful foot which helps her move." We prayed for
four minutes and she sat there and held her bottle and she
held her hands folded until the CAT scan was complete. The
good news is she didn't have to have any surgery at all.
They said the fluid would simply be absorbed by the body
and the skull would heal itself.
It was totally
and completely out of my control. I couldn't control the
fact that she had to have the CAT scan, I couldn't control
the fact that she had to sit there for four minutes perfectly
motionless, and I couldn't control the fact that she had
this injury. Everything was out of my control. There are
things in life that are totally and completely out of our
control. We have to realize there comes a time in our life
where we simply have to say, "I can't." I do not
have the ability or the means. I can't. But God can.
says it this way, "For if anyone thinks he is something
when he is nothing, he deceives himself." He deceives
himself. I can't. But the fact of the matter is that God
can. When you read Proverbs 3:5-6, and you can hear it so
true. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do
not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge
Him and He will make your paths straight." I can't,
but He can.
One of the more
interesting trips that I have had in my life was cruising
down the Nile River. I flew to Luxor, Egypt and then boarded
a little riverboat where you can cruise down the Nile River
and you can see the various sites that are along the Nile.
It concludes at the Aswan Dam. Construction was started
on the Aswan Dam in 1960 and was completed in 1972. It has
twenty turbines, each one putting out a billion kilowatts
a year. In 1972 that dam was dedicated by President Gamal
Abdel Nasser. He pushed a button and by pushing that button
the water started flowing through those turbines, the turbines
started spinning and started pushing out the energy which
lights up Egypt and Sudan and the surrounding territories.
The button does not produce the energy. The button simply
releases the energy. The energy is produced by the two hundred
billion cubic yards of water within the lake that is forced
through that dam. It spins those turbines and creates the
energy. That is the way it is with us and our relationship
with God. We push the button by inviting Jesus Christ into
our lives. In the Bible, the Book of Revelations says, "I
stand at the door and knock. If anyone will open the door,
I will come in to him and I will eat with him." (Revelations
3:20) We push the button and we allow the power and the
force of Jesus Christ to come into our lives and go through
our lives and empower us with His spirit and His goodness.
He won't force His way in. We have to get to a point where
we say, "Okay Lord, I am ready. I need Your help. I've
tried to kick this habit and I can't do it. I need Your
help. I'm opening the door inviting You to come in and to
make a difference in my life." I can't, He can, let
Him. When He does, things change dramatically!
He was considered
washed up after committing what everyone agreed was a tactical
mistake during World War I. Do you know who it was? Winston
Churchill. She was told early in her career that she had
absolutely no ability as an actress and that she should
forget about show business, go home and find a nice man
to marry. Do you know who that was? Lucille Ball. He was
told by a publisher, "You can't write; you'll never
be able to write and please quit wasting the publisher's
time with this rubbish." His name was Zane Gray. He
had such difficulty learning to play the piano that his
music teacher gave up on him. His name was Beethoven. He
was considered a dunce by his elementary school classmates
and the grades he received supported their evaluation and
his name was Thomas Edison. He received a failing grade
in chemistry class. He was Luis Pasteur. He failed at almost
everything he tried, business, politics and law, and in
1860 he was elected President of the United States. He was
Abraham Lincoln. I can't, He can, He wants to. He will.
All we have to do is open the door and say, "Not my
will but Thine be done, oh Lord." Why don't people
allow the power of Jesus Christ to flow through their lives?
I believe people still struggle with the whole concept of
am I really good enough, could God actually love me? Is
it possible that here I am, an insignificant human being
and there is a supreme being who is willing and able to
make a difference in my life?
Today I want you to know God. When there is no God, there
is no peace. But when you can know God you can know peace.
I want to conclude with a prayer. It is called the Serenity
Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. Maybe you're familiar with it.
If not, you'll become familiar with it the next few weeks
because it's a great prayer.
God, grant me
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking as Jesus did,
the sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.