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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Amazing Night In The Cave

It's nearly 11 PM as I begin writing this. I just got home a bit ago from this week's Man Cave, and I have to tell you, it was an amazing night. I mean, I am involved with every moment of these nights for days, even weeks ahead of time. And when they all come together before your eyes, and those of a couple hundred other men, it's awesome.

Tonight was a night to honor our military. Those who are serving now, and those who served in the past. At one point, we shared a video from a documentary about a soldier, Stephen McGowan, who died almost exactly 4 years ago in Iraq. He was known, and has since become famous as the "Beanie Baby" soldier. For the sake of brevity, I won't go into his entire story in detail. But he was known for giving Beanie Babies to Iraqi children he came across. People back home, many of whom he never met, would send him Beanie Babies to give away because they were easy for him to carry and give away.

He died from a blast of an improvised explosive device. Without going into gory details, a couple of his buddies went to heroic lengths to retrieve as much of Stephen as they could. They were determined that every bit of him would be returned to his mother. One of these men was his best friend, and a good friend of The Man Cave. He lives here in the Sacramento area and was featured in this documentary segment we showed. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend tonight.

Toward the end of the video, we sneaked a guest into the room. He waited at the rear of the room for his queue. As the video faded to black, a faint sound began to pierce through the fading applause. We had a live bagpiper there, and the men began to recognize the haunting melody of Amazing Grace. The men rose to their feet. At first, many of them thought it was from the video, but then they realized the sound was originating from behind them. Slowly, the bagpiper made his way from the rear of the room, and up a ramp to the stage. He pivoted, and continued to play from the front-most edge of the stage. Every light was off, except for one bright spotlight on the bagpiper.

Wow.

When he finished, you could hear a pin drop. For what seemed like minutes, but was really maybe 5-7 seconds, upwards of 200 men, myself included, gulped down the softball sized lumps in our collective throats.

You have to understand something. I was the one who talked to this guy days ago. I booked him. I told him of all the elements to the evening. Hours earlier, I walked him through the room, and gave him all of the details that would lead up to his moment. I had seen the video. But when it all came together in the service, the tears flowed down my face as if I had no idea it was coming. I couldn't stop. It was more powerful than I was prepared for. I was prepared for the whole thing. It went exactly as I had planned it. But there was something in that moment that penetrated my heart in a profound way.

All gave some, but some gave all.

Why do I complain about the things I do? Why do I let things bother me which are so insignificant in the big picture of life? Am I more concerned with being successful in the world's eye, or being a man of significance in God's?

Fittingly, at the end of the service, we sang "Jesus Paid It All". I've included it in my music player in the right column of this page.

It was a powerful night. One I'll never forget.

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