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Moving ahead, not just rolling along

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

"Let's roll" are comments many of you probably recognize. If not before all of the hoopla created concerning the Florida football team, then certainly in the aftermath of what happened a year ago.

I'm sure each of us has his or her personal story. Like when JFK was shot, 9/11/2001 was a significant emotional event. Each of us remembers where we were when we first heard the news. A collegian friend at one of the local universities told me I'd forever be etched in her memory banks. Why? [Certainly has nothing to do with my looks]. Rather, it was because I was the one who first told her about the tragedy I'd heard as I drove to my office that morning.

People will draw parallels to many things that occurred in their lives, but one thing is certain: lives were altered. If you've traveled since the New York skyline was changed, you know what I mean. When Kennedy was shot, things continued. Johnson became president. I remember. I also remember what I was when Dr. Martin Luther King was shot. Granted, we were forced to grow up faster. Our lives became a bit more jaded, especially as the Vietnam War escalated and took people we knew. Nevertheless, we still felt secure. We never felt challenged or threatened on our homeland.

In the last year, those feelings changed. We became like the new city-dwellers, fresh from a naive rustic way of leaving doors unlocked. On 11 September we were burglarized and raped. We became like the innocent TV watcher who never thought sex would invade our homes the way it has with HBO, ShowTime, and even Prime Time TV. And let's not forget the Internet. There are stalkers for our kids, our spouses out there all the time trying to lure away innocence. And we are letting it happen, day-by-day, bit-by-bit. Where is God in all this?

Last year, Billy Graham's daughter was asked on the Early Show, "How could God let something like the attacks on September 11 happen?" It's interesting how those who leave God out of their lives are among the first to allude to His failure to protect them as in the case of 11 September. A fellow student shared with me Dr. Graham's daughter's remarks, which I want each of you to think about. Anne Graham said:

"I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government, and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"

Stop! Take a few moments to ponder if in fact you've reassessed your view of a caring God who has to listen to arrogant, spiteful, and selfish children? Has He changed? Now ask yourself, "Did I, maybe contribute to this? Did I change?" If your answer is ‘yes,' as mine was, then what are you going to do about?

In a state where teachers are paid less than plumbers, carpenters, or even sanitation works, what are you going to do? In a country where every time you look around, we are being told to look the other way, what are you going to do? I ask you, what are you going to do? I began this column with the words Todd Beamer used to stop a devastating attempt to take away something precious. Practically every member on that plane rose to the occasion to do something for the people they loved. What are you doing?

Me? I'm a fraud. In the past year, I've focused more on what I can do for my family than my country. I've spent hours on my knees asking God to help me be a better man, husband, father, and ignored how to be a better citizen. I have a wife who's put up with me for 19 years; two children of 12 and 8 years who've humble me, and taught me more about how much God must love me than I can comprehend. What about you?

But I've worked on my marriage. I've tried to raise people consciousness with the things I write. Hopefully, one day I'll reap what I sow. Is that what's happening in America today? In the coming months ahead, in this column, I plan to give you dads challenges. Challenges that hopefully will remind us that living in America costs something. Challenges that will remind us that many of our privileges are based on the lives of people like Todd Beamer. Watch as I roll out those challenges!

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