Written by Pastor Shannon Foote
When my mom and I arrived at the hospital we were met by some ER nurses who wanted us to give them some information to identify my dad. They asked us to go in a room off to the side of the emergency room where we could speak privately about my dad, and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office had already assigned a detective who wanted to speak with us there. Sitting in that room was the first time I had paused to allow the circumstances surrounding me sink in. I began to feel very angry and overwhelmed with that antagonizing “what if” scenario playing out in my head. After a few minutes of answering questions we were allowed to go where my dad was being cared for. I’ll never forget what it was like to see one of the strongest, most capable men I have ever known laying there in such a vulnerable state. Seeing him laying there on that hospital bed in such a helpless condition and the realization that someone had intentionally put him there only fueled this anger that had already began to build inside of me!
After speaking with the doctors and the detective we learned that he had been violently struck on the back, right side of his head and fell to the ground causing a second point of impact just over his left ear. His skull had been fractured, and the blow accompanied by consequent fall had caused 14 contusions around his brain. There was immediate swelling and intense pain as a result of these injuries. He would have to spend 7 days in LSU Trauma Center’s ICU and an additional 5 days in the hospital recovering from this attack.
About 11pm that night, Jon and I realized that someone had to be prepared to step in for my dad, Pastor Craig Foote, and preach the morning service in less than 12 hours! We decided that I would preach that next morning. This proved to be much more difficult than I could have ever anticipated; I could not prepare to preach a message from the Word of God with anger and animosity in my heart. I went to the Lord that night and begged Him for strength and for grace. I cannot explain it to you, but while I was out there pleading with the Lord that anxiety and anger and fear that had swelled up inside of me was just GONE!! I was able to get a few hours of sleep and then go and teach my Bible class and preach the morning service with the right Spirit in control. (KJB)Philippians 4:7 (And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.) became very real to me through this event. To be perfectly honest, on Monday morning I tried to regain those feelings, but to no avail, because we have a loving Heavenly Father who even protects us from ourselves.
We are all aware that life is often referred to as a race or a journey. This is found to be true in preaching, Scripture, and even in general teaching, so we can easily understand the comparison between our lives and walking down a long winding road. There are many different applications which may be applied and several lessons that can be learned from this illustration; however, today I would like to focus on the idea of this journey more so than the journey itself.
(KJB)Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
If you are like me, when you think of a race, you probably see a large oval track with several athletes racing around it. Maybe some bleachers or a stadium with several fans cheering for the runners; possibly a concession stand with nachos, popcorn, hotdogs, and candy, with a long line of people waiting to purchase their “pre-game snack”. There is an electric feeling that only intense competition can create; at an event like this, it seems everyone can sense it! Coaches are giving pep talks, parents and athletes are praying for good fortune and safety, and everyone is enjoying their time at this sporting event. With that idea in mind, it is hard for me to compare that event to my life. You see, at a track meet of this sort the only opposition to be dealt with is the other runners who are trying to finish first, but in our lives we have an adversary who is trying to take us out of the race. In the race of life we are not in competition with anyone, though at times we may treat others as if we are.
That night in November my dad was physically hit and the rest of my family and our church family was spiritually hit while running our race. I call this “Full-contact Racing” – our adversary is waiting for a moment of victory, when we let our guard down, or a moment of weakness in our lives where he can swoop in and take us right off of our feet. For those who are weighed down with the desires of this world and by sins, these blows from the devil will probably destroy their ability to immediately continue in their race. My friend, (KJB)Romans 8:37 tells us, ”…we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. . We must be constantly aware of the fact that there is a very real enemy whose goal is to destroy us, but we serve a God who has already won the fight and in His strength we too will prevail!
I am so glad to be able to tell you that my dad has exceeded the doctors expectation in his recovery every step of the way! They told him that it would be at least 6 months before he would be able to stand and preach again, but on Christmas Sunday last year (just 5 weeks after his attack) my dad returned to his pulpit! You see, Satan is out to destroy and defeat us believer, but we do not have to run this race in our strength because (KJB)Philippians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.