Charleston Dawn - A Dedication
There is no greater love than a man might have than the desire to lay down his life for those that he loves. I have learned that it is infinitely harder to daily sacrifice and to daily live for someone each and every day that it is to have one supreme act of sacrifice. I am thankful that I have a God who chose to come here and live among us so that we see an example of how we are to live our lives. Though Christ felt all the temptations of the flesh that we do, and yet he endured them all living a sinless and perfect life. I worship a risen Christ who willingly gave himself as a blood sacrifice for me so that I might live with Him in heaven forever. I believe that everything that I do, albeit small or large, either enhances or endangers the kingdom. I thank God that He so eagerly pursues me even though there were many times that I failed so very greatly. I always found God there at the door of my heart gently knocking, waiting, and desiring His best for my life. I worship a God of Peace, the true Alpha and Omega, and the Great I Am.
At times when I struggle I try to continually look first to Him for guidance and then to listen to His word and teachings. I then strive with all effort to proceed with His plans for my life no matter what the cost. Along the way, following Him has cost deeply, but I also have deeply gained. Though I have lost many worldly things and friendships, I have found that God has led me to far grander places than I ever imagined. I believe that all the things that are seen are temporary and of this world and that the things that are unseen are of God are where we need to rest and direct our hearts and our mind.
I myself have often been the prodigal son straying away from the way that God would have me go. Yet, each time I turn away from sin and back towards him, I find that he willingly opens His arms and welcomes me home. I am saved by the grace of a God who surpasses all human understanding. I was created in God's image the same God who created the heavens and the earth and created day and night. I know that I cannot do anything to earn my way into heaven and it is only by the shedding of his blood that I am free. Jesus promises that all that believeth in Him will have life everlasting with Him in heaven. I know that He has gone there so that He might show me the way and that He might prepare a mansion for me. I know that only through belief in Jesus will I live and that all other paths separate me from His perfect love forever.
All that one has to do to gain entry into heaven is to believe. If you earnestly pray God will hear you words and honor them and his promise to you. By acknowledging that you are powerless to gain entry into heaven by your deeds, that you have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and by accepting his sacrifice of His own life for your own, you will not perish and will have everlasting Life. If you have just prayed this simple prayer, I will one day rejoice with you in paradise as one day we will all be called home. God promises to meet us in heaven with a banquet feast and that we will be rewarded in heaven for our devotion and service to him.
If you have just prayed this prayer and accepted Christ as your Savior, the next step is to tell someone, maybe even two or three. Get involved in a church, become a living part of the body and help us all tell the world of the one true Jesus that loves us so very dearly. Jesus himself connected in a group of twelve disciples and then even had a smaller group of three that he endeared himself even more. By becoming involved, serving together, and getting involved in each other's lives, we find that by serving others that God blesses us even more. I know that my tomorrow on this earth is not guaranteed but I know that my future in Heaven with God is!
This book is dedicated to three people in my life, the first and foremost being to my wife and helpmate, Tami. You are indeed a Gift from God. For over nine years I braved through divorce and then dating to find that God was busy readying you to love me just as God made me. Little did I realize at the time that God was readying me to see the beauty that you bestow to my life each and every day. Since the day that we met, I knew that God was up to something special. You continually move me ever so much with your heart, your compassion, and most of all your support when I have deserved it the least. You have always been there to pick me up and dust me off and to help me regain my way. I know with you God allows me to accomplish for the kingdom so much more together with you than I ever could have on my own. Indeed, not all of the times we have shared have been easy, and many have been doubly hard but each time we have endured and grown close to God and to each other.
Tami, my bride, I am so deeply blessed to have someone who loves so much while expecting so little in return. I am thankful that you can read my writing most of the time and I thank you for the tireless hours that you spent typing and editing this publication during all the endless writes and rewrites. Your enthusiasm for life is amazing. You are constantly inclined towards me and despite me sharing all of my deepest fears and seen my worst faults, you continue to hold me up in prayer. I believe that our Bible is the very living word of God. I have searched His words and believe that I have in you one of the great marriages of the ages. Tami, you inspire me, I both adore and love you deeply. I am so deeply honored to be your husband and yes, I would do it all over again!
Madison, my eldest and now a teenager, when God created the idea and form of you, He gave to you a spirit of love and peace that I know can only come from Him. I have watched you from birth and have watched you as you have traveled through life to date. Though you are yet so young as the world sees, you are yet so wise as you place God right in the center of that incredible gifted heart that you have. You are one of the elite few I have ever known who have the ability to make everyone that they see feel better about themselves and their life. You light up a room with your presence and your grace and wit. Always remember those words, "Dillard's never Give Up," and constantly go back to our God Most High to gain his insight and wisdom. I am not sure why I was afforded the gift of a child as unique as you but I thank God daily for the joy and laughter that you have brought me. I continually pray that God will use you and your life to do great things in His name.
Andrew, now ten and already having been on a mission trip, God placed in you a heart and a willingness to hear. Just as God said in the New Testament, "He who has ears, let him hear,' so you too have opened your heart and your mind to things never seen or shared before. You possess an innate ability to do great things in God's name. I watched you closely on our mission trip as you opened up your heart to God, to fellow servers on the trip, and to the people of Jamaica. I pray that you seek God in all that you do and know that He will honor your effort and greatly bless your life. In you I see a chance to hand down a heritage of the Godly men and women that are our ancestors. Be purposeful and intentional in all that you do always seeking His will for your life. Excel in everything, do everything, no matter how low or how high it might be, as if you are doing it for God himself. I revel in the exhilaration of our talks and how you danced as I exhorted you to press on and to live all of your life, as God would have you to do.
I want to thank my many close friends and family, my mother and my father who always lifted me up, David and Harriet Dillard, Donna and Gary Brooks, David Farmer, Hans Schuon, and all of my incredible nieces and nephews who brought be such great joy as we transverse through this life. I greatly thank my ancestors most specifically Grace Dillard, my grandmother who passed just three years ago at the age of one hundred and five and to Grandpa John who moved into heaven now twenty years ago. I plan to spend the first 10,000 years in your presence so Madison you will know where to find me. You each brought me closer to Christ through your lives, words, and your example. Though life has had many surprises I have learned that all we have here on earth are our fellow members of the body of Christ to help us along. Each and every one of you are so deeply loved and cherished. There is no way that I could ever adequately acknowledge enough what you each have meant to me. I deeply love you all so very much.
Most of all I pray that only God and His will were honored in the writing of this book and that to Him all the glory is due. I pray that I used only His words and that I brought edification to the perfect love that He has for you forever and ever. Amen.