Saturday, July 6, 2013

My Faith Is Strong

Being halfway educated, it's easy to start questioning your faith pretty quick. It's easy to be human and know something doesn't add up. For instance I can't see, hear, touch, feel, smell, or taste it. So it must not be. Right?
Well, what is faith really? It's a belief. Just like I believe I am gonna wake up tomorrow. I believe that I am going to write another song that makes me smile. I believe there is a God.
    I have had a few moments in my life where I feel like God has stepped in and revealed his existence. He probably knows my weird sense of humor, so a burning bush or bolt of lighting is just not gonna cut it.
When I was 16, I was driving from Center Post to Lafayette for a church volleyball game. I was driving my old 1977 Ford 150 4x4 at least 60mph down Foster Mill Drive. Closing in on a set of railroad tracks I was notorious for blowing through, because it's a small town and very few trains ever pass through anymore, I was ready to continue on with the status quo and hop right across the rarely used tracks without a blink of the eye. It is important to know I was also carrying 5-6 of my friends with me. Some up front. Some in the back. All of the sudden about 40 yds away I heard a sturdy, firm voice say "STOP." It was not a screaming voice. It was very smooth and direct in its intention. More like a command. It was not a voice I had ever heard before. I had no second thought or hesitation. I immediately slammed the brakes. Everyone in my truck had no time or chance to brace themselves. Even me. We came to a sliding stop just as a train came passing through. I didn't really tell anyone about the voice I had heard. But I really feel like I was being guided that day by something bigger than coincidence. I still remember that voice.
         Skip forward one year and in the same old truck. Riding down the bypass in Lafayette with two of my best friends Randy Nichols and Andy LeGrande. Important to know 2 things. The closest Krystal restaurant was 20 miles away in Fort Oglethorpe and I washed my truck twice a week back then. I had just cleaned up "Big Red" when we decided to cruise around and jam to some Ice Cube. Andy and Randy both had dips in their mouth and I was having fun with them by not pulling over to let them spit. I also would not let them spit out of the window. Mainly because I had just washed my truck and it was just fun to watch them suffer. Every window in the truck was open. Even the sliding back glass. Randy, with his mouth full of nasty Copenhagen spit, threw his hand up and out from his body about chin high and with all the honesty in the world mumbled "Lord! Give me a spit cup!" As Springsteen would say "In the wink of a young girl's eye", a large Krystal cup came flying in through the back glass. Flipping end over end and landed right side up in his hand like it was a "magic" trick he had set up. He was as surprised as Andy and I but immediately replied "Thank you Lord!" and spit into the cup. I had to pull my truck over and freak the hell out for a few minutes. I had just cleaned out the bed of my truck and I hadn't been to Krystal in a month. I believe that was a prayer answered in true miracle fashion. Randy passed away 4 years later. Andy and I love to bring that story up every chance we get.
        I was playing a private party up on the Tennessee River a few years back. After the show, I was on my way back to Georgia when a buddy called me and said a bunch of my friends were out on the river in a boat hanging out. It sounded like a good time to my old band mate and me so we headed for the boat dock at Chester Frost Park. When we got there we climbed over in the boat and went out about 10 ft. from the dock when people started asking where our guitars were. They wanted a after hours show. I am always up for a late night jam session so we tied back off and we walked back to my truck. I was about 20 ft. away from my truck, when I realized I didn't have my keys on me. I had locked them in the ignition. I instantly became sick at my stomach. How were we gonna get home? I thought, I am going to have to break the glass out. My old band mate offered his ring of keys as a last ditch effort to save the window of my 1991 S-10 with bullhorns on the hood. "HA! Had to brag!" He had a few old GM keys on the ring so I tried them all and nothing. Of course he had to try as well. Nothing! Embarrassed, tired, and reluctant to break the window out of my truck, I asked for the ring of keys back for one more try. He hands me the keys and I reach for the "GM" key and insert it in the key hole. At the exact time I start to turn the key, and with all the honesty in the world, I mumble "Lord, just open the door." It was like I was opening a brand new lock it was so smooth. The door unlocked and I came "unglued." It reminded me of the times before when I had felt that intervention. After getting my keys out of the ignition and locking the doors again, my band mate just had to try for himself. Nothing! Even I couldn't make the door open again. Once again I had been a part of a bonafied miracle. All of this is to set up this next story...
          August of 2012, I lost my best friend who was also my first cousin. Phillip Whiteside. I still cannot believe he is not gonna wake me up tomorrow or show up unannounced at the most inappropriate time. I miss him dearly and I will always have a broken heart because of his sudden passing. Since he's been gone from this world, I have been in and out of depression. I probably should seek some professional help, but who has time or money for that right? I have, however, recently noticed a little previously unnoticed love from beyond the grave perhaps. Phillip was one of the biggest baseball fans I had ever known. Our Paw Paw used to always watch Braves and Cubs and we always watched with him. One month after Phillip's passing my friend Homer Bailey throws a "no hitter." Understand one thing. If Phillip had been alive, he would have probably had a heart attack when Homer completed the "no hitter" he would have been so excited. He became a huge Homer Bailey fan after watching him play for the Lookouts in Chattanooga. Then after Homer and I became friends, Phillip always kept me posted about Homer's progress in the big leagues. So watching him throw a no hitter last September, 10 days after my birthday, was bitter sweet for me. This last year has been full of baseball for me. Watching my son Carter play his first season of baseball. Watching him learn the game I couldn't help but think "Phillip would be here at every game if he were alive." Then meeting and becoming friends with Jake Peavy has landed me at a numerous White Sox games. Including a trip to New York, where I performed along side Peavy at the MLB Fan Cave. The whole time I was there I was thinking "Phillip would literally shit himself if he were alive to see me play at the MLB Fan Cave." Last week I was in Chicago hanging with Jake at a game where they were hosting Cleveland. While waiting outside the clubhouse, I recognized a man walking toward me. He nodded at me as to say hello and as he passed I nodded back. I was trying to figure out who he was when Jake's cousin said that was Jason Giambi. "Wow! He plays for Cleveland" I thought. I didn't even realized he was still playing. First thing I thought was to call Phillip and tell him. Man, that is a lonely feeling I'm sure way too many people also have felt. First week of July is always a fun week for baseball because the all star break is coming up. It is also Phillip's birthday week. Last Tuesday I am getting ready to play a little songwriters show at Tin Roof in Nashville when I read a tweet that says "Homer Bailey has a no hitter thru 7 innings." I immediately find a TV with the Reds game on. My hot wings showed up in the 8th inning and I am way too superstitious to even touch them. People are looking at me like I'm weird but I don't give a shit. The universe is talking to me and by God I am listening. Homer completes the "no-no" and I tear up for a second thinking about Phillip and also I am so happy for my friend who has made baseball history. Watching baseball keeps me close to Phillip. I also really feel like it is no coincidence that I ended up on the MLB Fan Cave playing my music. Phillip always promoted my music to his baseball card collector buddies so why should he stop now.
         I believe there is more to this world than flesh and blood. There is a mystery that words and numbers cannot explain or comprehend. I believe and my faith is strong.
         Today is Phillip's birthday. So, I went to Walmart and bought some ball cards to celebrate it. PAW, if you find this how about helping our Braves get back to the WS.

1 comment:

  1. I just read this and I absolutely love this blog post. You see I know how strong your faith is. I guess us Center Post kids from the little white church of Chattooga Baptist know each other all too well. No matter where you go in life, you will always remember where you came from and have the foundation of your youth. And how I remember riding in that BIG RED truck to church and volley ball games! I also know the pain of losing a dear loved one. It does get easier as time passes. I admire you Channing for expressing your faith! I leave you with two bible verses.

    Psalm 34:18
    The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    Matthew 11:25-30
    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

    Your friend always, Love you all bunches! Mandy Bandy