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.
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 Memorial Gardens.
did John C. live with? John C. lived with a creed called
AA, the 12 steps. The first three steps are as follows
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.
are the first three steps of the 12 steps that are used
by people who are really struggling with addictions of all
sorts and kinds.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6:3 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.
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!
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.
grant me the serenity
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.