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Another mile of the journey, my new friend
Every story has a beginning and so too does this journey that became my time with Tim Hansel. A journey I equated with a ministry I believe I am called to which is Go and Do Likewise.
Actually 7 years before I ever met Tim the road to our friendship opened. It was my same friend who suggested in March of 1996 that we begin to do something more than sit in church, that we could touch the lives of people who needed help if we were just willing, so after a mere 9 months and much urging, I seriously thought there was a possibility he might be on track and then through my encounter with God called the 1997 Bowl Game between Florida and Florida State, it was evident that I needed to get “off the dime” and do something. Out of the pew and into the ‘battle’. This is necessary for the story for without this experience I am not sure I would have ever learned some of what I believe to be the secrets of hearing and obeying God. Pretty heavy stuff, but elemental I think. Certainly important for my meeting Tim.
For the next seven years I was exposed to a continuing set of circumstance which built my confidence in three ‘rules of obedience’ if you will. These rules are; do not try to find a value I can except to determine if what I am faced with is of God. My own understanding is that I neither know what God is about or how he is about it, so, therefor, I have no measure or goal with which to say yes or no, the end result is ‘take the first step; the second rule, if you will, is, if it is of God then you will find your self in a position to rely on faith alone, there will be doubt, without doubt there is no faith, so perseverance as faith is key to seeing the end God has for today and for the introduction of the next step; the third rule, if it is of God He will provide the resource to complete what He has begun, unfortunately you don’t get this in advance and the result is, God allows you to see what He has done but the next step has the same rules and there will be a next step until you refuse or are summoned home. So here I am, treading this road of uncertainty, trying, seriously trying, to learn the simple steps of obedience, struggling in my own season of chaos and I am handed a book by this guy Tim Hansel, seven years into the journey that is Go and Do Likewise and this Hansel guy has like x-ray vision into my experience and into each step I had to learn the hard way. Why didn’t I just get this book earlier God? Well most likely because I would have never paid attention before the journey, the lessons would have been ignored.
So after reading this book and sharing with my ‘friend’ my thoughts, this friend suggested I call Mr Hansel. According to my nature I hesitated and made excuse after excuse. Call someone just because you read a book and it has been an agent of impact for you? Sad to say it took about a month of urging before I took up the phone while driving a considerable distance across Los Angeles in mid summer of 2003 and called. “This is Tim” if you ever called him you recognize this greeting. It was not five minutes into the conversation and we had discovered several common links. Both from the Seattle area. Raised in neighborhoods which were most competitive in High School sports. One year a part in age and carrying some common memories of the late 1950’s in Seattle. In one call of 45 minutes we covered the gamut of issues; personal, educational, spiritual and emotional. I called a stranger and disconnected the phone from a friend of significant meaning.
Tim and I continued to converse by phone for a few months each call probed more deeply into areas which were shared experience, some very personal some very painful. The conversation always contained much laughter and interaction from both sides. Tim shared his current situation in Seattle, his fears and concerns and I shared the personal turmoil of separation with close intimate relationships. What ever the subject the interactions were very positive and supportive, both ways. Over the course of a few months this man, Tim Hansel became a close and intimate personal friend. It may sound trite but truly we both felt we had known each other for most of our lives.
It was approaching Thanksgiving and when I decided to visit relatives in the Seattle area that I got the idea to meet Tim in person. It just seemed the thing to do, so I called him and told him I was coming to Seattle and would like to meet him, so we agreed that I would call him when I was in the city and we would arrange a time. I must admit my naivete as I had not met or had any visual contact with Tim however we had shared the ongoing pain and physical disabilities he was currently challenged with and the current status of my own pain and “emotional disability”.
I arrived in Seattle on a Tuesday and while spending time with my brother and his family I called repeatedly to connect with Tim, each time there was no answer. I began to wonder if it was just not meant to be. Thanksgiving came and went, I was scheduled to return on Monday and still no Tim. Finally on Friday afternoon I called and the familiar “this is Tim” met my ears.
We chatted, he was in the middle of some physical therapy so we agreed to meet the next evening. He gave me address and directions, also instruction as his therapist would let me into the house at a certain time, I gave this no thought. I hurried out to rent a car and I must admit I was excited to meet this new friend. By that time I was well aware of his writings and his injury and much of his life both public and private. I experienced some of that peace that passes all understanding, it was good.
Saturday came and at the time agreed I sat in front of the house in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle where Tim had been raised and was currently living. I was impressed by the quietness of the streets for a Saturday evening. I was also reminded about the neighborhood environment as I looked at house after house with barred windows and steel Screen doors. I was reminded that this indeed was some of the inner city of Seattle. I crossed the street climbed the few stairs to the raised porch and knocked. No answer, knocked again, no answer. It was about the fourth or fifth knock that I heard a voice and the door was opened by a young man who was just finishing up Tim’s therapy for the day. He showed me into the very neat living room and asked me to wait, saying it would be just a few minutes. Except for Tim, the therapist and myself the house was empty of people, only the three of us. I waited and waited and waited. I walked about the living room and the small dining room and looked at the pictures and the many articles of Tim’s career. I was beginning to get some idea of the history of this man through the many pictures, items and artifacts. Still I waited. After some time the young therapist came back down the stairs and announced that Tim would be down in a few minutes, meanwhile I was to make myself at home. Then he turned, unlocked the door with the deadbolt, opened the metal screen, left the hose after instructing me to set the lock and shut the door. Dead bolted from the inside. secure. I waited and waited, this time I roamed the entire first floor, going through the office area and the kitchen and the hall at every step reading the plaques and the testimonies on pictures and noting for my own amazement the significance of many of those whose pictures I saw.
Then . . .hey Bud, you there? I answered that I was, “be right down”. I waited, I was about to take the next step, to meet my new friend, to shake hands with this man who had grown in my own mind as I had read my way through his house.
Continued . . .