THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD

It happened not too far from our little world in Iowa. I was only nine years old so it never stuck in my mind as a big event, at least to a young boy in Pittsburgh, PA. A small plane crashed in Clear Lake, IA in 1959. It was February 3rd and the snow, ice and cold had forced three musicians to climb on a small, chartered aircraft for a quick trip to Fargo, ND. Three musical legends, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, went down along with the pilot in what singerDon McLean called the “Day the Music Died.” I had no idea how that fateful day would someday affect my life. A good friend of mine turned down his seat on that doomed plane and gave it to Richie Valens who perished alongside Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. Dion DiMucci of “Runaround Sue and Abraham, Martin and John” fame, did it because, like any poor kid from New York City, $36 was a month's rent for his family. He couldn't justify the cash outlay. Richie, who had been ill, took the flight and Dion kept his life.I really wasn't aware of that story when I first met Dion in North Miami, FL. We never talked about it. At that time in his life, Dion had come to Christ as his savior and I was his, as we joked, personal pastor. We spent a lot of time on the phone, out for lunch and at concerts together. He was learning about his faith and struggling to integrate his Catholic upbringing into his new evangelical roots. In the meantime, his Christian oriented music was topping the contemporary Christian music charts. His lyrics were moving hearts and souls across the U.S. I was there to help him get his thoughts in order but he was excellent in his own communication skills.A year or so later, I had moved to the Detroit area to plant a new church. Dion's sound man, and my best friend, called me up to say they were coming to town to do a concert. I asked two new believers from my church to attend the concert. They doubted the veracity of the story of me actually knowing the famous singer but their tickets were free, so they jumped at the chance. I couldn't blame them. Unfortunately for them I disappeared early on and they didn't see me again until I hit the stage to emcee the concert. At that point they believed me. Those memories flood back every once in awhile along with the expression, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” I think of my friend, Dion, who ended up impacting many thousands in the Christian world with his music, who could have been the one who went to his death in Clear Lake. But, and whenever God steps in there is always a BUT that is significant. The grace of God had different plans for this 19 year old singer out of the Bronx. God's grace will take us in directions we could never imagine. He is the creator of the universe and the planner of all life's situations. I often ask Him why He has taken me in this new direction or pulled me towards the other path. I know His grace is sufficient for me. I am where I am because of that grace. Possibly for you, and for me, there was a Clear Lake experience in our past but because of God's grace we are somewhere completely different in our journeys. Possibly you are at the crossroads where God is about to step in and radically change your direction. It could be a relationship that needs an overhaul. It might me a choice about your work situation. Mark this day for it may be the day that your decision changes the course of many lives around you. If you need to talk or discuss life's happenings, your pastor is there to do that. If you are not attending a church, you might just find the peace you need at Peace Church.

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