"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
February is a month in which we honor and remember the accomplishments, sacrifices, and lives of African Americans who helped shape our world. Dr. King referred to them as ‘drum majors’ because they were willing to be out front leading by example.
Today I want to reflect on the life of a member of my church, who became a ‘drum major’ for many across this country as he demonstrated to us how to handle both comfort and challenge. My association with him changed my life because he taught me to how to remain at peace even under the pressure of a life threatening disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, (ALS).
Let me introduce my Black History hero, William M. Harris, Jr. William (February 10, 1965-February 4, 2014). Ironically he came into this world during Black History Month and left this world during Black History Month. Many will remember William Harris as an All American tight end at the University of Texas or as a professional football player for the St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Green Bay Packers but I’ll remember William Harris, Jr. as an example of faith and courage as he fought ALS for the last seven years of his life.
I was honored to deliver the home going eulogy for William Harris and I believe you will be blessed and strengthen by it through this week’s FORWARD THINKING article, "Will Power to Stand".
2 Corinthians 1:3-11
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Let me introduce you to some synonyms that will both help define and describe the term will power. Will power is to have drive, resolve, determination, grit, firmness of purpose, and the strength of will. William’s picture could have been in the dictionary next to will power. I heard someone say because Rosa Parks sat Dr. King was able to march and because Dr. King marched President Barack Obama was able to run. Well, today I’m able to stand and encourage others because William refused to stay down under the weight of ALS.
Let me challenge your faith with this statement. The devil did not give my friend ALS but God knew He could trust my friend and his wife, Jocelyn, with the assignment of ALS. Yes, sometimes bad things happen to good people but the real question is can your level of faith handle a difficult assignment.
This season Coach Pete Carroll’s playbook gave the Seattle Seahawks the faith to win the Super Bowl but the bible is still the greatest playbook of all times because it gives you the faith to win every season of your life. William was an example of a man of faith because he was not moved by what things looked like but continued to trust in the promises laid out in God’s Word.
We can’t have will power without having faith and we can’t have faith without hearing the Word of God.
Let’s walk through the Word to obtain the faith we need to acquire the will power to stand.
In verse three Paul says praise be to God even in the face of trouble. Many are saying how can I praise God when life is so unfair? Truth is God never said life was fair; matter of fact the bible says man is born of woman for just a few days but those days will be full of trouble.
Paul tells us even though trouble comes God will comfort us. God is not trying to destroy us with trouble but wants us to use our will power to stand in the face of trouble as a testimony to strengthen those around us.
The will power to stand with ALS over the past seven years caused those around Will to stand strong under the pressures of life. FORWARD THINKERS release the will power to stand today no matter what you are facing.
In verse eight Paul keeps it real. He declares some circumstances in life are hard to deal with and sometimes you will be pushed to the limit of your ability.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis turned my friend’s life upside down but his faith caused him to rely on the strength of God and not on his own strength. He demonstrated the audacity of faith to release the will power to stand even when his physical body couldn’t stand. William knew ALS was big but he also knew GOD was bigger.
FORWARD THINKERS I was blessed to hear my friend’s last words to his wife were ‘look up’ and that’s my final thought for you today no matter what you’re dealing with LOOK UP.
Pastor E. A. Deckard is the Senior Pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church located in North Houston. Contact Pastor Deckard at www.ghic.net or via Facebook.