Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
Some may want to go back to the past,
others, Back to the Future.
As for me, I just want to get back to living.
It was her 16th birthday party.
The year was 1967.
My sister was six years older than me.
As a young boy,
I had learned to endure parties
where teenage girls invaded the house.
HELLO……..ANYONE HOME, MCDOWELL? *
Answer…..about a gazillion girls were there,
GREAT SCOTT!!! *
For a ten year old boy,
this was a sentence of death.
Marty McFly may have thought he had it bad in 1985
but life for Davy McDowell in 1967 was no picnic either.
I wasn’t the only male child facing such agony.
My brother, five years younger than me, had to endure it as well,
except that at age five, he was less aware of the GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION. *
WHOA, THIS WAS HEAVY! *
As the cars continued to turn into the driveway,
and as the GIGIWATT * level of girlish giggles reached painful proportions,
I did what any ten year old would do…..
I MADE LIKE A TREE AND GOT OUTTA THERE.*
(IT’S LEAF YOU IDIOT. MAKE LIKE A TREE AND LEAF!) *
That took me to the front yard
where I thought I was alone with my baseball bat.
It was there behind a bush that I took my first powerful practice swing…….
a swing that ended up in my brother’s skull.
I had forgotten that as a five year old brother,
he was more like a puppy dog.
He would follow me everywhere…….
That day, 48 years ago, on my sister’s 16th birthday,
he followed me right into a swing of the bat
as I was chasing an imaginary ball over the right corner of the plate.
I don’t remember much after that except blood,
a lot of blood…..
and that the giggles of teenage girls turned to screams.
In the SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM, *
somehow I knew that I had altered history.
What if I had never hit my brother in the head with the baseball bat?
He would have likely gotten better grades in high school.
He never would have had to listen to the
“Boy you had better buckle down and get better grades”
speech from our father.
(translated, YOU ARE A SLACKER, JUST LIKE YOUR FATHER) *
Instead, he would have gone to Harvard,
and then Duke Divinity School
instead of attending the local commuter school.
He would never have transferred from the local commuter school
to Temple University.
He would have never met his wife.
He would have never moved to Ohio
and entertained everyone with his endless selfies and Facebook posts.
He would never have had his two wonderful children,
nor had his cute Westies as pets.
All because of one swing of the bat in April of 1967.
I used to think I should apologize to my brother
for slamming him in the head with a large piece of wood,
but now I realize that he should be thanking me.
That traumatic blow to the noggin
wrote his future.
Doc Brown quoted
“YOUR FUTURE HASN’T BEEN WRITTEN YET,
NO ONE’S HAS. YOUR FUTURE IS WHATEVER YOU MAKE OF IT.
SO MAKE IT A GOOD ONE.” *("Back to the Future" Quote)
I’d like to think that my mistimed swing
paved the wave for my brother to become an excellent pastor.
Theologians and people of faith have for centuries
debated over man’s free will versus God’s sovereignty.
Is life really scripted out for us beforehand and we are merely actors,
or do we really have a choice in determining our destiny?
I would say yes and yes.
When Moses goes before Pharaoh
in that dramatic account of the Exodus from Egypt,
several times Scripture says:
“But Pharaoh hardened his heart at that time also; neither would he let the people go.” (Exodus 8:32)
In the same account, Scripture also says that it was God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart….
“But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.” (Exodus 9:12)
I believe that our free will can only operate within God’s sovereignty.
Are we responsible for our actions?
Is God in charge?
And because of that, I offer to my brother……
“I’m sorry for not looking to see where you were in that moment” and
“I am glad God purposed me to have a brother who is living out the intentions for his life.”
And as Doc Brown put it,
for those who know and love the Lord,
“WHERE WE ARE GOING, WE WON’T NEED ROADS.” *
And in the meantime,
choose to live out well the purposes that he intended for you before you were even born.