I want to open this business coach post and part two of this series with a few words from Vanessa, my wife, my boss, and wonderful mom to our children:
Looking back on the time that Aubrey was diagnosed as blind is really surreal. I never quite accepted the diagnosis; somehow, I think that relates to his healing, but I’m not quite sure how. I know that words have power. I would never say, “The doctor says, ‘He is blind.” I chose to say, “They said, ‘He is having trouble seeing.” I spoke constantly to Clay about Aubrey being healed. My husband didn’t believe in healings. I think he thought I was crazy, but we were both so upset, he chose not to battle me on my beliefs. I know that I needed that hope; I could not live with the current circumstances. I refused to. So instead, I went on day to day taking care of the kids and randomly breaking down, at which point I would have candid conversations with God about healing Aubrey. I constantly proclaimed God’s promises of healing over my son. I read in the Bible when Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Why was this man born blind?” and Jesus answered, “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:6-7). Jesus then proceeded to heal the man. I reminded God what He had said and done and that He was no respecter of persons. What he had done for that man, he would do for my son. I continued to build my faith that it would happen and just believed that it was just a matter of time.
So that was Vanessa’s perspective. Here was mine: The more they prayed, the more insincere their prayers felt, the more positive e-mails I got, the more “Go to hell” e-mails I wanted to send in reply. And then DJ Nate emailed me from his honeymoon with the following message: “YOUR SON WILL SEE.”
That made me look up! Who was he to e-mail me that? What a JACKASS! Was he going to surgically repair my son’s eyes despite the doctors’ irrefutable evidence that nothing could be done? Was he going to use some Christian ninja Jedi moves to heal my little former NBA prospect? No! Nate was not going to heal my son, and I knew God was not going to heal Aubrey, either. If everyone could just leave me alone, I could get on to getting bitter.
Because my wife is a genius, Vanessa had an undying belief that Aubrey would see; maybe she was too upset to deal with what I thought was “reality,” but she was always talking about how great it was going to be when Aubrey started seeing and what he would think to just start seeing out of the blue one day. Initially, I had not told her about the e-mail I had received from Nate because it was so offensive to me; however, one day, spurred on from listening to my wife talk about Aubrey’s future vision, I told her about Nate’s e-mail. She was on fire. Vanessa immediately grilled me on everything related to the e-mail.
“When did he send it?”
“How does he know?”
Unable to answer any of the questions, I simply told her to call Nate. She did, and this is what she found out. Nate was on a honeymoon cruise with his wife and he had been sleeping in every day until Thursday. He awoke at 7:00 a.m. and felt that he needed to “pray in tongues.” When he finished, he felt that Aubrey was going to be healed and that he was supposed to e-mail and tell me. Nate was unable to go back to sleep until he sent the e-mail.
My wife was ecstatic. I, on the other hand, was in a state of despair. So I decided that it was time for a stress-free vacation. Before we could go on our road trip to Florida, we had to go to Sam’s Club for some “food therapy.” As most Sam’s Club members can attest, the best day to go to Sam’s for some inexpensive food therapy is Sunday (a.k.a. “sample day”). Thus, on Sunday we went. Like most Sam’s Club members do, we walked up and down the aisles scoping for samples. “Honey, look! CREPES! Oh yeah, I love CREPES. I’ve never had one, but let’s sample three of them. Oh look! Macaroni and lil’ smokies! Let’s sample that too!” As we continued sampling, I continued self-medicating with food therapy. In between sampling, I stumbled across a book that yelled out to me, “Buy me!” However, there was a problem. This book was a Christian book, and I disliked Christian books. I attended ORU, so I had seen irrefutable evidence that Richard Roberts and Lindsay Roberts were insincere, prayer-tower hawking, hope-selling, phony bastards. I disliked Christian books more than I can adequately describe now using mere words because I figured that since I thought Lindsay and Richard were phony, all Christian leaders must be phony.
The book that caught my eye was George Foreman’s autobiography entitled God In My Corner. I stopped for a second and said cautiously and suspiciously, “Bird, wait a minute. I want to look at this book.” Then I placed the book back down and kept walking. Almost immediately, George Foreman’s book taunted me some more. It was now almost screaming at me, “Buy me, sucka, or I will punch you in the face!” So I bought the book. I knew about George’s extremely rough childhood and his life history of being a mean, talented, and intense boxer. Because I am a sports fan, I knew that George Foreman had previously been considered one of the meanest fighters on Earth, and then once he became a Christian, his reputation changed to the lovable endorsement character that we all associate with his “lean, mean grill machine.” I knew this much about his story, but I had no idea that he was an outspoken Christian.
A few days later, as my wife, Havana, Aubrey, and I drove eastbound in our Silver Jeep en route to Florida; I had Vanessa read George’s book aloud to me. And, man, did it speak to me. I was astounded to hear how George’s miraculous encounters with God had changed his life. I was amazed to learn that George had a nephew who had a serious medical condition that left him in a prolonged coma before he was miraculously healed by God. I was completely wowed when I learned that George had quit cold turkey living his self-admitted “terrible” lifestyle after God revealed Himself to him minutes after he lost a major boxing match. I almost swerved into on-coming traffic with astonishment when I learned that George is now an active pastor of his own church called The Church of Lord Jesus Christ in Houston, Texas. Who knew? The king of the grill machine was a pastor to a hundred impoverished, inner-city people in Houston. Who knew that the two-time heavyweight champion of the world is an outspoken Christian who is willing to pray for, witness to, and love on the poorest people among us without a single video camera or media outlet there to praise him for it? I certainly did not. And with some newfound faith, I decided to pray for lil’ Aubrey.
Shortly after we arrived In Destin, Florida, I started to see what my wife was seeing. The little dude was seeing. Little Aubrey was seeing! At first, I could not believe it. I doubted, but my wife, the silent warrior, believed. I was convinced that God would never heal my son, and I wanted to be that guy who goes to church for the coffee. I wanted to be that guy who goes to church not believing in God. I wanted to be like many of the people that go to church for the routine of it. I wanted to be like the people I always despised growing up. I wanted to be a hypocrite, and if God were to heal my son, that would just be too weird. If Aubrey were healed, I would have to believe. I would have to quit pretending to believe in God and His miraculous powers of healing. If Aubrey were healed, I would have to acknowledge that Richard and Lindsay Roberts were corrupt, but God is not.
Once we returned home, Vanessa called me after meeting with the doctor who had previously declared that our son was blind. I was sure that he would say that we were just drinking too much Christian kool-aid. I knew he would tell us that we were ultimately wanting Aubrey to see so much that we now were now willing to make up stories about his vision returning. I knew that the doctor was going to tell us politely that we were both making up a bunch of crap that we were backing up with coincidentally convenient evidence. And that is exactly what the doctor did not say.
The doctor validated what my wife had believed all along. Our son Aubrey had been healed without medical intervention . . . a.k.a. we had just benefited from the hand of God . . . a.k.a. we had experienced A MIRACLE. Ladies and Gentlemen, customers, friends, neighbors, readers, family, and good-natured people of importance, our son had been unmistakably healed by someone other than a doctor. God did what medicine could not, and I no longer have a blind son. Our son can see!
For me, his seeing equaled my believing! And I began seeing that all of the tough situations that I was going through were really not that tough when compared with the circumstances being faced by those fathers living in Africa who could not work enough hours in the day to feed their families. I began to realize that the stresses I was dealing with associated with weak employees, corrupt partners, dishonest salespeople, and potential financial ruin were not even challenging for a God capable of healing my son from a life of blindness. On the very second that I first noticed Aubrey could see, I went from impatient and disgruntled to thankful and content. It took my son going blind for me to see God for what He is and what He is truly capable of.
As I write this, I can tell you that my current life is filled with countless examples of what a Christian should not do, but all I can tell you is that God is real. Aubrey’s healing is real, and both of these revelations have changed my entire outlook on life. Although I believe Richard and Lindsay Roberts are still slightly less sincere and more bogus than a John Edwards apology.
Aubrey Napoleon-Hill Clark was born blind. We were told that there was nothing “medically” that could be done. As you can imagine, this news devastated my wife and I; however, amidst our frustration, I started to realize that many people have had it and do have it much worse off than we did. Aubrey’s temporary blindness was the punch in the gut that I needed to truly understand the word empathy.
In my life, I have prayed for a lot of things that have not come to fruition. I had never seen a miracle up until then. When my best friend Mark DePetris was killed in a car accident, I sincerely prayed for his resurrection in a Lazarus-kind-of-way, unfortunately, Mark did not rise from the grave. When I lived in Minnesota, I prayed for the ability to pass Algebra tests after I had spent three years taking the same class over and over due to my lack of natural math-test-taking ability; and for whatever reason, my prayers were not met with the results and responses that I wanted. But, alas, my son was healed. And thus, I feel the need to bless you with this story. Our son began seeing in September of 2007, but I did not want to tell anyone until I had medical confirmation that he was indeed seeing.
The healing of our son had me feeling euphoric, vivacious, and humbled. And now the healing of Aubrey has me feeling beveled emotionally, fifteen percent more empathetic, sincere in my belief in God, full of faith, and grateful for every day of good health that my family and I are blessed with. You can take away our nice house (which our failed partnership did). You can screw me over (like countless people I have trusted have done). You can curse me out on the phone and call me unjust (when I fire you for smoking pot and for being an overall thorn in the business coach and entrepreneurial side), but you can’t make me question my faith in Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power. God is still in the miracle business, and He changed our son and me.
Lil’ Aubrey is still seeing now, and I am still believing. Each weekday morning when he wakes up and looks up at me with his incredible seeing eyes, my faith is again renewed. I need that daily confirmation because I am a person of weak faith.
I don’t know why God chose to heal “Aubrey 3000” (the name I call him most often) after so many of my earlier prayer requests have not been granted. I don’t know why God chose not to restore my best friend Mark when he was killed in a car accident, but I do know that Aubrey was healed. And I do know that am not smart enough to fully grasp the concept of infinity, so I am trying to not get caught up in Jack-Handy-style deep thoughts about my theology at this point. I am just grateful. I am grateful that God healed my son. I am grateful that George Foreman shared his testimony with me through his book. I am grateful that Nate took a risk, went out on a limb, and shared his faith with me. I am grateful that my wife is smarter than me and has more faith than I have. I am just thankful.
On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving 2007, Vanessa and I went to George’s church in Houston to thank him for the faith-building testimony he boldly and unapologetically wrote in his book. We were hoping that we might just get lucky enough to spend 10 seconds with the king of the grill machine to express our gratitude; however, after navigating for close to an hour to his hard-to-find, inner-city, neighborhood church, we received much more than that.
When we pulled into the parking lot of The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ about a half-hour late for service, it was raining with monsoon-like ferocity, and thus, when I opened the driver-side door of the Jeep to exit, I promptly stepped into four inches of water, completely soaking my dress shoe, sock, and right foot; however, armed with my divinely inspired sense of tenacity, I somehow was not upset by this debacle, and Vanessa was not fazed by the weather-influenced hairstyle she was now rocking on her dome. As we walked up the church stairs, I think both of us were thinking the same thing, We’re terrible: we’re a half hour late to meet with the George. It’s probably not going to happen.
However, when we walked in to his small sanctuary, we were amazed. There he was . . . George Foreman, the guy who is on TV almost as much as Seinfeld reruns, was there preaching from the pulpit to twenty people in an inner-city Houston neighborhood without any fanfare. As he shared his faith with the congregation, his incredible humbleness was obvious. I sincerely could not believe it. He was literally walking in between the pews and from person to person asking individuals if they had any prayer requests. And then, one by one, he prayed for them without any TV cameras, glitzy lights, or glamorous staging. He was not praying for these people so he could make himself look good, and he was not business coach anyone or making a large corporate donation as part of some sponsorship opportunity. He was praying for people who were in need of a friend, of hope, and of encouragement. In my opinion, watching him preach was almost more inspiring than his book. I just could not comprehend how non-full-of-himself he was. I wish I could describe it better, but I can’t, so I am moving on with the story.
As Big George asked if anyone else had any prayer requests, my always-bold wife put her hand up, and George said, “Well, hello, what can we pray for?” (or something similar to that). Vanessa told him (while fighting back a few grateful tears of joy) about the story of Aubrey and how he was healed of blindness. And then Big George asked if he could hold Aubrey as he prayed for him. He then anointed Aubrey with oil and began to pray for him with sincerity. Again, it’s worth repeating here. He prayed for him with SINCERITY. He prayed for him with ENTHUSIASM, and he PRAYED a simple prayer WITH CONVICTION.
As he held Aubrey, I kept thinking, This dude is HUGE. HIS HANDS ARE HUGE. Thus, I am glad that I agree with what he is praying, or he might dislocate my head. When George finished praying, he thanked us for attending his church and smiled with the most contagious smile the world has ever known. I was wowed. We had connected with God and a sports legend at the same time. After George concluded the service, he introduced us to Natalie, Monk, Red, and his nephew whom he wrote about in the book who had been miraculously healed from a coma. Just meeting the real-life “characters” from his book really solidified the book’s meaning and business coach principles to me. I am sure for Natalie, Red, Monk, the nephew, and for George, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but for me it was worth writing about. George taking fifteen minutes for me has really taken my Christian kool-aid intake level to an all-time high. George shared with us how the story of Aubrey’s healing was encouraging to him, and that made my Wednesday EPIC. Thank you George, and thank you Foreman family.
“Knowledge without application is meaningless.” – Thomas Edison
DON’T MAKE READING THIS BUSINESS COACH POST MORE MEANINGLESS THAN THE PLOT OF BEN STILLER’S TROPIC THUNDER. Answer the following self-examining questions:
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