Stephen Was Not My Enemy

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Let me tell you a dirty little secret within the humanity of many Christians. The late Dr. Stephen Hawking infuriated scores of believers with his scientific views and theories. For many of us, we find comfort in our faith. Believing whole-heartedly in the one true God who created the universe, through the Lord Jesus Christ, is a blessing for the believer. But place a microphone into the hands (as it were) of a brilliant scientist, give him a platform and let him speak candidly on his mathematical discoveries of how the earth came to be, and you will soon find out just how many Christians still battle against the sin of judgment.

I know because for years, I was one of them. His theories angered me, because (in my mind) they seemed totally bent on proving the nonexistence of God. In hindsight, my problem was not with Dr. Hawking personally. No. My problem was in my own faith. Did I actually believe in the God of the Bible or not; because, if the scriptures were true—make no mistake, they are—then the LORD is eternal, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is the beginning and the end. No one or nothing will ever change or silence Him. If I can truly believe in that fact, then I would have nothing to fear from man who was created by God in the first place. Science will never disprove the existence of God.

Dr. Hawking was gifted with a brilliant mind. Despite his debilitating disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), he used that gift to study gravity and its affects within black holes, among many other things. His scientific discoveries paved the way and opened the door up for new possibilities within the scientific community. Perhaps someday, his theories will reshape the very ways we travel from point “A” to point “B”.

As daunting and sophisticated as his discoveries were, one fact remains: Dr. Hawking was just a man created by God. His brilliance was a gift from God. His theories and discoveries were postulated, calculated and argued through a mind that ultimately was knit together by Yahweh. In reality, he posed no real threat to Christianity. I believe at the core of his heart, Dr. Hawking wanted to better mankind, and used his mind to try to accomplish this.

We Christians need to pray for the family of the late Dr. Stephen Hawking. His children have lost a father. His disdain for religion and God (in particular) is widely known and will be the continued subject of great debate. I once heard a self-proclaimed Christian boisterously spout, “Stephen Hawking was stricken with that disease, because he spit in the face of God”. That’s not the attitude or heart of true believers, friends. Despite his beliefs against God, he was a man gifted with intelligence and a family. His family is now grieving. They could really use our prayers.

My prayer for Dr. Hawking is that, in his final moments, he found and came to be at peace with the Lord.

Yesterday, Now

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Every once in awhile, I get the chance to see a glimpse of my past through the eyes of someone else. Sometimes, I receive messages from longtime friends and past acquaintances who remind me of times gone by-some good; some bad. I tend to throw the bad memories into my mental box labeled, “Don’t Ever Open Again”. But the good memories give me hope. They let me know that I wasn’t a total schmuck before God saved me.

Today was one of those good-memory days.

When I was a freshman in college, at Western Michigan University, I developed some pretty awesome relationships with friends of different backgrounds. In fact, some of those relationships still remain today. Doug, Dante, Al, D-Pounce, Jeff and Reddick took me into their little group of King High School/ Flintstone bandits as if I had always belonged. A band of brothers. And then there was my crazy, naive and genuinely good-hearted suitemate: Andy.

Andy was hilarious. He was the kind of white guy who obviously came from a town where black folks were either absent or shunned, but Andy didn’t allow fear of the unknown to stunt his growth. No sir. This guy used his natural curiosity to befriend us and learn about our culture. I can remember our talks as if they happened yesterday.

Andy would ask questions with a look of childlike wonderment in his eyes. He never once offended me with his open and honest questions. Rather, I actually saw him as someone who wanted to learn who I was; not just Ennis Smith from Ecorse, Michigan, but Ennis Smith-the black man, from Ecorse, Michigan.

Andy asked about my background. He asked why the black race seemed to be portrayed in a negative light through the media of the day. He wanted to know thoughts on our choices in dating. He wanted to know what it was to be as close to “black” as he could possibly get.

Now, I remember a few of my friends blowing over his questions and curiosities as foolishness, maybe even stupidity. But, I saw what they didn’t see. He was just a guy who didn’t look like us, but who actually wanted to understand our culture. Andy was about as non-racist as you can get. He was my friend, and we had good laughs and great conversation.

I was 18 when we met. Somewhere between 19 and 21 – I honestly don’t remember, because the alcohol changed me – I lost touch with my friend. Today, I got an unexpected and pleasant surprise via Twitter. My old friend had tracked me down. Imagine my surprise in finding out that he was not only a fellow writer, but a writer who regularly takes on the subject of race and relationships as an anti-racism activist!

Andy wrote a post in which he referred back to one of our many conversations on race. It completely blew my mind that our talks would have such a lasting impact on someone! For some reason, he felt the need to apologize for any uncompassionate (my words, not his) things he made have said. But, in all honesty, I remember that one particular conversation being awesome.

And there it is folks: God’s work transcending time. Even before I was straight with the Lord, he was working on a friend,and I, refining us both; shaping us into the people we would someday become. I wonder if my friend would be proud of the man I’ve become today? I sure am proud of what he’s doing with his life, using his voice, spoken and written, to attack one of Satan’s greatest tools: racism. I am 42 today. And it would seem that my Lord saw fit to bring my old friend back into my life. My yesterday took a pause, and decided to pick up again, now.

Be kind to one another, friends. You never know when something you might say or do might change the course of another’s life. You can never tell if your actions might speak life into a relationship, or strife between two people.

Incoming!

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“I don’t want to leave. I happen to like it here. She’s so easy to manipulate. I barely have to lift a finger of suggestion because she’s so enamored with my promises. All I have to do is hint at the idea of self gratification, and her heart does the rest. It was so easy to bring her to this point.”
Sin peered through the transparent spiritual veil, as he gloatingly spoke at Grace. For years now, he maintained an unchallenged hold over Jordyn’s life. How delicious it was to see this woman time and again chase after the insignificant wants and desires of the world, only to fall deeper into Sin’s hands. Just thinking about the end result of Jordyn’s life, made Sin erupt in boisterous laughter. He composed himself long enough to glance a red eye toward Grace, sitting quietly beside him.
A content and quaint smile peaked at the corners of Grace’s lips. That subtle smile signified a knowing; the type of knowing Sin might not be too happy with. As the red demon considered this point, he turned toward the little angel and huffed. Tendrils of red smoke exhaled through the demon’s nostrils.
“By the way, little-Grace, what brings you to my neck of the ethereal plane anyway? You didn’t come over here to bask in my conquest of another lost soul, so what news do you bring from your father now? Other than informing me of my impending departure, which was quite hilarious I might add, what real message do you have for me?” Sin chided.
Grace seemed lost in his own thoughts as he stared through the spiritual veil. He watched as Jordyn rifled through the bathroom medicine cabinet, and settled her hand around a bottle of prescription pills. She wrestled the cap open then dumped the entire contents of the bottle into her free hand. Pills spilled across the floor.
“Not long now,” Grace whispered. “Almost time.  Sin…I want you to watch this carefully. See the fruits of your labor, savor the moment while you can.”
Sin sneered at the little angel. He huffed plumes of smoke defiantly at Grace, as they both watched Jordyn swallow one pill, and then another.
“HA! I’m watching alright, you little goody-two-shoes! You see that? She’s mine! The time has come for her to die. I plan on claiming her soul momentarily,” Sin pronounced as he glowered at Grace.
Grace simply turned a sympathetic look toward the demon. The knowing smile evolved into a broad grin across his angelic face.
“I’m here to celebrate your outgoing reign over Jordyn’s life, Sin. You see, the time has come; my father has granted me clemency rights over this woman. This is as far as you will take her.”
The angel’s warm smile infuriated the demon. As Sin screamed curses at the angel, tongues of red flame licked at Grace’s wing-tips.  Still, the little angel smiled.
“Goodbye, Sin.  We will cross paths again,” Grace said.
“I’m not going anywhere, you little–” Sin bellowed, but his tirade was cut short at the sound of Jordyn’s words.
As he turned his head disbelievingly toward the spiritual veil, Jordyn dropped to her knees, onto the cold bathroom floor. He watched the young woman clasp her hands together.
“No!” he screamed.
“Jesus…I can’t do this anymore,” Jordyn pleaded through streaming tears. “Please help me! I’m in trouble, and I don’t know where else to go. GOD please, save my life.”
Sin attacked the spiritual veil in a rage, but could not penetrate its boundaries. He watched helplessly, as Grace floated through the veil and gently wrapped his wings around the young woman.
As Grace settled over Jordyn, she felt a sudden warmth envelope her skin. Within her mind, she heard the words spoken as clearly as if someone were standing over her.
“I’m here Jordyn, and I will never leave you.”