In 1991 I was a student at NCSU and things were going well, or so I thought. I was actively taking scuba diving trips to northern Florida’s caverns and the keys, I obtained my private pilot’s license, and had a fast black motorcycle. Life to me, at that time in my life, was a continual pursuit.
It was after a failed circuits exam that I began to really question my life – I had become bone-weary of this pursuit and was ready to quit. I told God to take my life and do whatever He wanted – if only he’d give me some purpose, peace, and rest.
First, I stopped drinking; completely. All these years later – no alcohol. Second, I began to trust God with my decisions. Instead of pursuing the next hobby or passing fancy, I surrendered to let God build my life according to His leading. Finally…peace.
My career in Lean Six Sigma requires that I solve problems. Some of them are straightforward, but many have been very complex. In over (30) years of consulting and over 1 million miles on Delta airlines, I’ve relied on God’s insight and strength. From St. Louis to Towanda to Cincinnati to West Monroe and 100’s of cities in between, the number of times I’ve asked for His help and insight are countless. I’ve never traveled alone.
My relationship with God today is the reason that peace is a part of my life. Perfection – nope. As I share with you in the video below, I abandoned the ‘checklist approach to faith’ a long, long time ago.
Naturally with my profession, we teach teams to be more strategic. One offshoot of this work is what we are calling a ‘bema jar.’
Every week I take a moment to drop a marble in a jar. Why? The marbles represent time, or more importantly, the passing of time. I take a quiet moment and reflect on the past week. Did I take time to worship and thank God? Did I abide with Him? When the concerns of the world came in, did I go to Him?
I then pray about the upcoming week. What can I do that’s lasting and impactful? Where does God want me to go? Who does God want me to be with?
Now all that’s left to do is live. I go and run my race. I number my days and make each one count. Finally, I pick up a marble and put it in my pocket for the week ahead as a constant reminder.
Over the decades that I’ve been walking with the Lord, I’ve experienced some wonderful seasons, but also some difficult trials. I’ve learned that growth and maturity come through periods where I don’t have the answers (stop talking) and seek to learn more about God’s plan and intentions (start listening, reading).
I love my 6 children. One of my daughters is married with our first grandson, my other daughter just finished her master’s degree. Then there are four boys. The oldest is in Heaven (see below), the second is a special needs wonder, and the two youngest are forever challenging me to be…younger.
As I alluded above, there have been some trials.
I hate writing that word here. I was married for 24 years until 2018 and I’m a huge advocate of marriage; one of God’s best gifts to us. The first 20 years are filled with tremendous joy. The ‘growing years’ of the children was nothing short of fantastic. It’s always been a priority for me to keep digital pictures & videos, and there is rarely a month that goes by that I don’t share a picture out to my children. I’m so grateful for our children and also for growing closer to Christ through this trial. Life moves on and new challenges have begun. (making tea = cooking, garage = still most important room in the house. Finally, if my house catches on fire when no one is at home, PLEASE move the boat out of the garage first).
On April 4th of 2022, I survived a plane crash. By all accounts from pilots and professionals in the industry, it was a miracle no one was killed. I flew into a short runway and attempted to land into a reported 10 KT headwind but landed with a ~ 15 KT tailwind. The plane touched down over halfway down the runway. I should have kept the plane on the ground (pilot error), but instead applied full power and attempted to climb back out of the airport. The plane climbed slowly in the tailwind, clipped the top of a tree, spun 360 degrees, and took out power lines before crashing, under full power (270 HP turbo), into a residential neighborhood. The plane caught fire and had 60+ gallons of fuel on board. The plane did not explode.
Going through that event has taken a long time to process and absorb. For weeks after the accident, I woke up at night replaying the accident again and again. Traumatic is the suitable word choice. The plane crash has made me reflect deeply on the meaning of my life and on my remaining days.
Two tangible outcomes of this reflection are seminary and a men’s group. I started a 4-year MDiv seminary degree in January 2023 at Shepherds theological seminary in Cary NC and I’m leading a small group of younger men 1X / month. At this point, I’m unsure of where God will call me to serve, but I expect I’ll never stop using my management consultant skillset. I’m excited to see His plan for my life unfold.
Wyatt Graeme Guthrie (18Sept, 2001 – 12Jan, 2023)
In January of 2023 my oldest son committed suicide. There are no words in the English language to describe this loss. The pain is deeper than anything I’ve ever experienced. Wyatt brought tremendous joy into our lives. I am proud of my son and he will be missed. This slideshow is a tribute. https://jmp.sh/roWZNrpK
Closing on the positive:
I love our non-profit company, GOW, and doing work in that ministry. Some of my closest brothers and sisters in Christ live in India and Pakistan. Knowing them has forever changed my life and perspective of the world. *Please take some time to read our story gowministries.org.
I love my children.
I love water skiing behind the Mastercraft Prostar.
I love flying in the Mooney.
I love seminary.
I love F3.
In 1991 He knew what I would grow to love. He knew the triumphs that would come. He knew the trials that would come. After I surrendered, He helped a floundering sinner get on a path that leads to the shining city. To that end – one day I will be home.
What About You?
How do others describe you? I hope that you can share a story that includes a personal relationship with God. When this relationship exists, the hallmarks are plainly visible. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, and self-control.
The history of man continues to be a story of self-reliance. Self-dependence. And in the end an attempt at being self-righteous; all apart from God. As my young children have said through the years, “I do it myself.”
Whether you want to live apart from a checklist, as the video above references, or more information about the Bema jar, please feel free to contact me through our website.