My friend, Dana, just posted a comment in response to the post I just wrote about our friendship. He is insistent that I approve it and since several of you have told me how much hearing about our friendship has meant to you, I thought I should just post his response as the first guest post on my blog.
And Sheila, I did promise. But only not to put your photo on Facebook, if I remember correctly (a constant challenge). And Dana is right. You do look great (even if you slept in and didn’t have time to put on your makeup)! Betsy, as always, speaks for herself.
If you have not yet read what I wrote about this important friendship in my life, go there first and then come back. We’ll wait.
Now, without further ado, here is Dana’s side of the story talking about our “Near Death Experiences”:
“I can’t believe he posted that picture, he promised”, she said running around the house, screaming. You have my sympathy Ed, Sheila’s out for you. However, she does look great in that picture, even if she is wearing no makeup (oops!!).
Ed and I are indeed “3:00am friends”. Our friendship has the kind of depth and strength that only comes through deep, meaningful, shared experiences. A friendship that has enjoyed great highs and significant lows. Simply put, I love Ed. I just love him, no strings attached. Years ago, God intertwined our lives in order to change us both. I could share countless ways this has happened, let me just share the “Near Death Experiences.”
Near Death Experience #1
I first heard about Ed and Betsy Hague when a prayer request was shared from the pulpit of Watkinsville First Baptist Church. You see Ed, while attending seminary at Trinity Divinity School in Chicago, electrocuted himself. He worked for the college, and was digging a hole when he jammed his shovel into an underground power line.
The neighborhood lit up and so did Ed. They got his heart restarted, bandaged up his hands, and he became the spokesman for the “Locate Before You Dig” campaign in Illinois. I wanted to meet this guy. He would return to WFBC, and our friendship would take off like a rocket. My life would be changed forever.
Near Death Experience #2
Dan May, the Youth Minister at WFBC, thought it would be an amazing idea to take 300 students, on 10 buses, to Panama City, Florida for a youth retreat. Ed and I were asked to come along to help herd the cats. The weather turned bad, the red flag warnings were issued, and the students were cautioned; so naturally they went swimming in the ocean. A girl got caught in the riptide, and Ed waded in to help her. He also got caught. I was at the retreat center when this happened, and was summoned by students to help.
I saw Ed and the girl out in the water, so I waded out to help, and I got caught. A lot of help I was!! The girl would get out, but Ed and I remained trapped. Ed was exhausted; he had been out there 15 minutes longer than I had. With people trying to help us, and waves battering us, we shared a surreal moment. We talked about our impending deaths. We were surprisingly calm, we were ready to die, we were confident in our eternal destination. We were showered with God’s peace and grace. It is a moment I will never forget, it solidified my faith.
As scripture says, ” God provided an escape.” As you can tell, Ed and I are not small men, getting us out of that riptide would not be easy. Just so happens, however, that in addition to the 300 compliant teenagers on the trip, there was the wrestling team from Carson Newman College. And, one of those wrestlers grew up in Daytona Beach, where he was a lifeguard. He got us out. God had provided for us long before we knew we had a need.
As Ed and I sat on the beach, being treated by the paramedics, we would exchange a “look.” A look that could only be shared by two people who had experienced the grace and peace of God at one of the most trying moments of their lives. My life would be changed forever.
Near Death Experience #3
In April of 1996, Ed, Steve Floyd (a dear friend who has already gone home to be with the Lord), and I took a day off to clear some trees for a garden between my house and Steve’s. As you can imagine, we generated a great deal of debris. I was assigned the task of starting the fire. I struggled, so Ed stepped in to show me how it should be done.
He did, indeed, get the fire started. Of course, he also set himself on fire. There he is, running around the yard screaming, “I’m on Fire! I’m on Fire!” So Steve and and I quickly proceeded to…… laugh uncontrollably. Fortunately, Ed was able to douse his own flames. He survived yet again.
Later that day, the conversation would get serious and philosophical. Ed and Steve served on the Board of a start-up school named Westminster Christian Academy. My wife, Sheila, also served on the Board. Westminster had just started it’s high school, and they were peppering me with questions. At that point, I had been a math teacher and coach at a local high school for 15 years. We talked for hours.
Late in the afternoon, Ed turned to me and said, “Dana, would you consider becoming the High School Principal for Westminster? To my surprise I said, “Yes.” I would go on to serve Westminster as principal and Headmaster for 14 years. Today, I am the Head of School at Seven Rivers Christian School in Lecanto, Florida. That day, with Ed and Steve, my life would be changed forever.
Near Death Experience #4
Ed now fights cancer. He was supposed to be dead a year ago. He could have died 33 years ago in Chicago. He could have died 28 years ago in Panama City. He could have died 18 years ago in my yard. But he didn’t. Perhaps, more than anyone else, I am not surprised.
I am not surprised that God has provided Xofigo for him. Xofigo is the “wrestler from Daytona Beach.” For now, God has provided a way of escape. I can only guess it is because He plans to use Ed to continue to change lives. My life has forever been changed because of my friendship with Ed.
So now you see a small part of why we are “3:00am friends.” Now, you know why I love Ed so much. I am blessed among men.