Saturday, May 8, 2010

Good Stories

You know you belong when you have good stories together. Tomorrow, I’m preaching on Belong as part of our series on evangelism called “Leading in the Adventure.”

Belonging makes me think of playing in the band, growing up in a wonderful family, and working at Open Door. I can point to just a few great life experiences like these when everything seemed to be in place. I was accepted and loved unconditionally. We had a common purpose and relationships of integrity. I’ll be talking about this more tomorrow, but I wanted to take some time today to share a few stories about my life on Dorm 5-2 at Liberty University. You know you belong when you have stories like:

Salt Spew. One night I needed $3 to pay off a loan, and God provided an opportunity for me to earn it through a dare. My friend Jenny had piled mountain of table salt and pepper on a tray and asked if anyone would eat it. Money poured in for the bravest/stupidest volunteer. 55 cents…then $1…then more….finally, the magic number was broken, and I raised my hand. Stepping to the tray with the ease of a fighter pilot, I swallowed four heaping spoonfuls of salt. And basked in the cheers of the cafeteria dwellers. “The mighty Dan has vanquished the sodium mountain of death! Great shall be his reign!” (This may be a slight exaggeration of their praises.) The subsequent events happened in less than a minute. “Water,” was all I could say. Mountain Dew was all anyone had. For a science experiment, try putting salt in Mtn. Dew some time. It is entertaining when it is happening somewhere other than your stomach. The cute nursing student next to me who had not been in school long enough to tell me that salt poisoning can be deadly asked me if I was ok. Not wanting to ruin my chances of going out with her by looking weak, I said I was fine. A second later, I realized I wasn’t. Another second after that, I realized that the cafeteria bathroom was a quarter of a mile away. Blahhhhh…three hurls of relief as dinner made its way back onto my tray. I raised my head from the third heave and erupted in laughter. Everyone but my dorm mates looked at me with eyes of terror. Unconditional love. I found out later that my good buddy Jeremy “Beanie” Heisey might have saved my life by giving me Mtn. Dew. Don’t eat too much salt kids.

Naked slip n’ slide. We had a tile floor that ran the length of the hall (about 150 ft. or more.) The guys filled a trash can with laundry detergent and water and drenched the last half of the hall. I was the RA at the time and could hear…thump, thump, thump, thump…..woooshhhhhhhhhhh…..crash! Then cheers of joy. This is what guys at Christian colleges do instead of getting drunk. I knew I should stop them, but I had taken part in the event earlier that day. I waited till I heard the RA from downstairs come to the door, then I rushed out and started yelling. “What are you guys doing!? Clean this up now! It’s ok Josh (downstairs RA), I’ve got it under control.” Later, I told the guys that the scolding was just for appearances. “We understand, Dan. We’ll clean it up right now.” They squeegeed the water down the stairs and flooded dorm 5-1. Ah, memories!

Suds over DeMoss. (I may or may not have been involved in this one.) One night we pooled all the laundry detergent from the dorm and poured it into the fountain in the center of campus. While this had been done before, it had not reached the epic proportions of the glorious 5-2 sudsing! The billows of foam could be seen from almost a mile away as the entire student body walked to chapel in awe of the spectacle. It was the stuff of legends. The parties involved have never been named. As Ronald Reagan once said, “You can accomplish much if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Root Beer Float. One year, we built a float for homecoming parade…a 2 story root beer float that towered over our competition, dwarfing all other floats in its shadow. We did smite their ruin of our foes on the field of battle and great was their fall. We won $100 and had a Christmas party. Nobody messes with dorm 5-2.

Violence is not the answer…but it’s worth half credit. Disputes were usually resolved with gentle grace. However, there are more than 5 love languages and one of them is kicking the crap out of each other. We had a thing called shower death match. It was only used in the most extreme circumstances. One shower was turned on as cold as possible. The fight started on the hall and could only be ended through tap out, pass out, or being thrown into the icy rain of the shower. I’m pretty sure that the popularity of MMA Fighting can be traced back to 5-2 Shower Death Matches.

The night the dorm caught on fire…twice. The Lynchburg, VA Fire Department is a great establishment.

The “donkey show. MTV had a show with a name that the guys at a Christian college were afraid to say. They were not, however fearful of attempting the stunt. We were visited more than once by emergency medical technicians for games like “Dan Love Bowling” (This game involved Dan Love, a skate board, and some trash cans), “Bush jumping,” “Ping-Pong Smash,” and “Trash Can Bobsledding.” Anything to impress the women of LU.

She is at Liberty to marry whom she wills (1 Corinthians 7:39b) The truth of this out of context passage brought about hours of discussion about LU’s abnormal ratio of beautiful women to men. There is something in the water there. I can’t explain it other than to say that for a 19 year old freshman, it is like entering the promise land. Accountability was in place to avoid the sin of Romans 1:25.

The Adventures of Bayou Jon. Jon wore boots and carried a large knife he called “The Blade of Retribution.” One night we found a snake slithering across the dorm floor. Hearing the commotion, Jon walked down the hall and into the room. Without a word, he pulled out the Blade of Retribution, cut off the head of the serpent, wiped the knife clean on his pants leg, put it away and left the room. “A country boy can survive.”

The night I shared my faith with my grandfather. It was spiritual emphasis week and the speaker had challenged us to do something about the person God had put on our hearts. I had prayed for my grandfather for 13 years, but had never spoken a word to him about my faith. My Spiritual Life Director (Dorm Pastor) prayed with me and I left the meeting to call my granddad. I remember calling him and hearing him confess Christ over the phone. When I stepped out of my dorm room, I saw my SLD, Spence Davis sitting on the floor praying for me. You don’t forget moments like that.

The night my grandmother died. Grandma had gone into surgery with a good chance of coming through. It was serious, but we all expected her to be fine. I remember getting calls throughout the day as things kept getting worse. They couldn’t stop the bleeding. The phone rang for that last time, and I picked it up knowing what I was going to hear. It was my Dorm 5-2 brothers that prayed with me that day, that carried me through that dark night. That’s brotherhood.

The day I married my wife. Not only did these guys celebrate with me. They stood beside me and committed to hold me accountable to my commitment for the rest of my life. Seriously, if I ever act like an idiot and do anything to hurt my wife, these are the guys she knows to call. They have been instructed to tie me to a tree and beat the crap out of me with the love of Christ. My faithfulness to my wife is motivated by my unending love for her, my desire to honor God and family, and the honor of our brotherhood.

Salvation. Men came to Christ and or made significant life-changing decisions every year on that dorm. In the midst of the rowdiness, I watched these imperfect men become passionate men of God. In this community of brothers we prayed for one another, confessed our sins, and led men to Christ. God moved.

In Shakespeare’s Henry V, the king speaks to his men, recounting the unity that comes only when trials are shared. He says:

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day

I have a Band of Brothers. We have fought together, prayed together, laughed and cried together, served together and lived life together. For any one of them I would stand beside them and fight a host of foes. I know I belong because I have good stories with these men. Not just fun stories of college antics, but real stories of grace, trial and redemption. This is what it means to belong.

How about you? Who do you have good stories with?

1 comment:

  1. I like this post honey. And, most of my good stories are with you!