Do you believe ‘You Can Rise Above”? Believing and Rising Above enable us to enjoy everyday life here and eternal life in Heaven. Hearing peoples’ stories of rising up and being restored shared at Tim’s Gift Rise Up – Restore Christian Conference and Illuminate Winter Blitz stirred my heart with renewed passion. Powerful testimonies of restoration from folks in our neck of the woods hit home. Starting this story in the warmth of my home after attending church service on Super Bowl Sunday, I think of millions of people gathered in California for the big game. From sea to shining sea, millions more will be glued to their televisions throughout the day. Each person watching or listening is writing his/her story and believing in something. Surely, God watches as we live our lives and enjoy His blessings that flow like milk and honey. He longs to be the main character in His children’s stories…all of His children! Rising up with personal testimonies of His grace and goodness in our stories pleases our heavenly Father. What an opportunity we have to tell the good news of Jesus Christ as we write in love and walk in faith.
With Rise Up 2016 behind us and a new theme in place for next year, a burning desire for more people to hear the good news messages from Rise Up events took center stage in my mind. The people whom God put in place to speak and sing at this year’s conference were ‘spot on’ for ‘such a time as this’! When all was finished and I placed the Rise Up Planning Book (organized by my sister as a gift to help me) on the shelf, a burning desire to share those stories with more people rose up like a flood inside my heart. So, I prayed!
When writer’s block set in like the freezing rain, I settled back in James’ recliner and reminisced while listening to Super Bowl 50 stories. Super Bowl 2006 came to mind. I remembered that Sunday morning, Tim and I drove to Chapel Hill for his scheduled MRI. Rain pounded as we walked across the parking lot, arm in arm, with umbrella keeping us dry. Then, the dreaded fall came out of nowhere. Families who have battled brain cancer understand the scare when a loved one falls and you can’t get them up. Tim went limp and lost his footing; but I was determined to keep him from being downed that cold morning. Thoughts of ‘what do I do and why is this happening’ raced through my mind. We stood on the lawn in front of the hospital with cars and people rushing by but no one stopping to assist us. I cried out for help with Tim inching closer to the muddy puddles and me standing in the gap between him and the wet ground. Holding him up seemed impossible but God was with us as rain drenched and a taxi cab driver saw our dilemma. He stopped in the middle of the street, left his door wide open, and rushed to rescue Tim. The young man assured me all would be okay as he slipped his arms under Tim’s and braced himself while yelling for someone to bring a wheelchair. His shrill screams got the attention of a man who retrieved a wheelchair from the lobby and two others who came to help the taxi driver get Tim to the entrance. With Tim settled in the wheelchair, tears filled his eyes as I hugged the Good Samaritans. Tim extended a firm handshake and thank you to the three men who gave help in his time of need. We were soaked but that did not deter the joy of knowing God sends help when it seems to be raining all over one’s world.
On our drive home, we talked very little about the storm ahead of us and a lot about the people who were helping us face it. During storms of life, it is wise to communicate with loved ones and the Lord. Sharing special things with those we love (while we are together) brings sweet peace when the storm has passed.
Sunday afternoon we were home with dry clothes and a hot meal while listening to Super Bowl preview shows of outstanding players’ stories. Before the game ended, a new story about our hometown hero, Willie Parker, was being shared around the world. That was the last Super Bowl Tim and I watched together. Our story was entering the final chapter as cancer took its toll.
I closed my computer, packed my car, and headed across town to watch Super Bowl 50 with my son and his family. Excitement filled their living room as we cheered our team and enjoyed good food. Being together with loved ones makes anything better, even Super Bowl games that don’t turn out as planned.
Season stats and hype surrounding this game propelled the Carolina Panthers to a place of prominence. The commentators’ storylines changed with each play that did not pan out as planned for our beloved Panthers. As minutes ticked off the clock, reality set in and the story ended quite differently than expected. Carolina lost. Could it be? We were favored to win!
We talked about the game with heartache for Carolina’s loss and hope for a new season. Lessons were learned, adventures were enjoyed, accolades were given, and tomorrow the world goes on with anticipation already rising up for Super Bowl LI. For those who Believe and Rise Above, stories are written and victories are celebrated…even in losses.
Listening to after game comments from quarterbacks Newton and Manning, I thought of the perfect opportunity each was given to touch lives and honor God as the main character in their amazing stories of success. Manning did give thanks to the man upstairs at the end of his victory speech minutes after their win. Other things he mentioned – that millions will remember – came first. Newton’s disappointment consumed him with few comments coming forth in his time of loss. How would you or I react if we had been in either quarterback’s place? We may never have millions watching our every move and listening to each detail of our story, but someone is always watching and listening whose lives will be influenced by what we say and do. Keeping God first in our wins and losses is wise. We are always winners when Jesus is Lord of our lives, with benefits and blessings that touch eternity.
With everyone in the Spell home sleeping soundly, I sit on the couch and count my many blessings while finishing this story. Good endings make good stories great. We all hope for great endings as we write our stories in hope, faith, and LOVE.
That’s it…LOVE prompted the perfect ending. Thinking about the power of love, the half time Super Bowl show popped in my mind. What an amazing performance! The message engraved on my heart was one that God endorses with full authority… “BELIEVE IN LOVE”!
As performers sang and danced with the whole world watching, they stressed the importance of coming together. They were different in color, dress, and delivery, but they came together in perfect harmony at the end of their story on stage. The lyrics they sang ring loud and clear with truth for all God’s children… “We can come together somehow!” The hate crimes and division among the masses is troubling. I believe God would change the wording in many songs and stories that could bring harmony and happiness to His children…red or yellow, black or white…”All Lives Matter!” And they do!
The crowd rose up and cheered with the message of truth shining from the stands…BELIEVE IN LOVE! May this story encourage each of us to write daily by the example Jesus lived, to Believe in Love, and to know We Can Rise Above! We will enjoy victories and face defeats along the way, but God promises to walk with us and that He will never fail us. Why not promise the same to Him?
Believe In Love and Rise Above!
Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for the Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.