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  • Reverend James Squire

I'll See You and I Will Raise You

Vicki’s father was quite a character! He was the reincarnation of Ernest Hemingway. He had a private single engine plane that he used in his business, carried a gun when he needed to, loved to hunt and fish, and lived life on the edge. He crashed landed his plane twice, once in a Virginia cornfield and another time on an ice-covered runway, and survived because he was an excellent pilot trained in the army. He gave Vicki’s mother a pink mustang, the only one in Raleigh, because he thought it was fun to do. We were different yet similar in many ways.

I did, however, save his life when we went fishing in a nearby quarry. We were in an aluminum boat fishing away when he stood up to bring a fish in and turned the boat over. He could swim, but his pants fell down to his ankles trapping him in a prison of an inability to swim. The quarry cliffs were sheer mud but I managed to swim with him in tow, and get him to a bank, grab a branch, and reach safety for him and then me. I think that he was more worried about his wallet which always contained a large amount of money than his own life. When we arrived home, wet and muddy, much later than expected, Vicki’s mother let us know how worried she was. He simply responded, “He saved my life.” as if it were an everyday occurrence. Somehow that day bridged any differences that we had. I learned something from him which relates to the game of poker. I know what it means when you are able to do the impossible because the adrenaline is making its way through your body. Usually, I am not that powerful a swimmer!

The gun was necessary when he would leave the house for a high stakes poker game. I am not much of a poker player, but there is a poker phrase that defined his life and one that may enrich ours. “I’ll see you and I will raise you.” This is another way of saying the most famous line from Robert Browning that “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for.” This suggests that to achieve anything worthwhile, a person should attempt those things that seem to be impossible.

Adidas used the phrase, “Impossible is nothing” as the heart of their marketing campaign. They are determined to help athletes achieve their goals, even the ones that seem impossible.

We find a variation of this theme as well in the words of Jesus when he replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20-21

I find that my and others most fervent prayer occurs when confronted with overcoming the greatest of odds. Events of our lives don’t determine us. Our response does which is why the American psyche and soul is always on the side of the underdog who seems to overcome hardship and move through it with grit and courage. That instinct resides in us always ready to empower us via our faith or psychological make up. We relish that in others because it reminds us that we are the imago dei, first spoken by Thomas Aquinas meaning created in the image of God, that we contain that possibility as well. This is a foundational concept of Christian and Jewish understanding of human nature.

But back to that poker table as a metaphor for the high stakes game of life. We sit across from someone, an event that is going to call us to meet the moment of an impossible task. ”I’ll see you.” says the event. We remember that we have to meet the moment by reaching beyond our grasp, the moment that calls forth our faith, to believe is to overcome the impossible, and we say, “I will see you and I will raise you.” This is where the heart of ethics comes in to join with faith to lead the way for faith and belief are not reasonable. They call us to a higher conviction that we are called to make our good, better, and our better the best that it could be.

A man’s or woman’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for…impossible Is nothing…faith to move a mountain. What is at the heart of it?

I’ll see you and I will raise you.

I will see your face and be satisfied and He will raise you up on eagles’ wings. Bear you on the breath of dawn. Make you to shine like the sun. And hold you in the palm of his hand. (Song On Eagles Wings) Psalm 27:13 and Isaiah 40:31

Believe that the Lord God is always at the table!]

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