Monday morning. 10 o’clock a.m. on the East Coast. You were probably at work. Maybe grumbling about the “Mondays.” Or maybe you slept in, called in, or cashed in. It was, after all, Monday morning. While you were doing whatever it is you were doing, a 62-year-old woman was fighting back tears telling one of the most beautiful stories of a life I’ve heard in a while. A life lived second.
The woman is someone you might recognize. Kathie Lee Gifford. She spent years alongside Regis on the show named after them. For the last eight years she’s been hosting the fourth hour of the “TODAY” show. Last Sunday, August 9, her husband died unexpectedly. You may recognize his name, too. Frank Gifford. He was a legendary Giants football player and host of “Monday Night Football.” Chances are you or someone you know grew up listening to his voice.
I say all that so that you understand better the magnitude of what Kathie Lee did on Monday morning, her first day back on TV after Frank’s passing. She could have said anything, asked for anything, screamed anything. She could have retired right then and there with a bitter goodbye and we all would have understood.
But she didn’t. She decided to do something else. She told Frank’s story. For eight minutes she told his story.
“As a young child, Frank asked Jesus into his heart,” she said, explaining that the Hall of Famer grew up with nothing during the Depression. “And that remained with him for the rest of his life. He strayed from his faith on occasion but his faith never left him.”
“His world got smaller as his God got bigger and he’d want you to know that, that he died in complete peace,” she added. “He knew every sin he’d ever committed was forgiven. He had the hope that he would be with the Lord, and that we would some day be with him as well. That is the foundation of the Christian faith, is forgiveness, grace, and hope.”
“And those of you who are hurting today or feel hopeless, it might be the answer for you.”
She stopped herself.
“In fact, I know it’s the answer for you.”
Pause for a moment and think about that. A grieving wife on national TV so convinced about what her husband had she couldn’t help but share it.
Angry? I know it’s the answer for you.
Discontent? I know it’s the answer for you.
Struggling to find purpose? I know it’s the answer for you.
Hurting? I know it’s the answer for you.
Facing a divorce? I know it’s the answer for you.
Let that sink in.
Then there’s the story about the stone. One small stone.
See, Kathie Lee and Frank took a trip to Israel a few years back. There, their friend took them down to a stream. It’s said to be the same stream that the historical king, David, went down to and picked up five stones from as he prepared to take on a seemingly impossible task: the giant Goliath.
“The miracle wasn’t that the shepherd boy was able to kill the giant,” she explained. “The miracle was that the shepherd boy, who had all the skills he would ever need in life, trusted in a living God. Not a religion, but a living God.”
Frank grabbed a stone.
That moment left a lasting impression on him. In fact, it changed him so much that when people came over to his house he wouldn’t take them to his Hall of Fame bust or his Emmy awards, but rather the small stone he plucked out of the stream.
That started a tradition in the family. The couple’s kids, Cassidy and Cody, both got stones when they graduated high school and college shortly after.
“And we said to her, ‘Cass, where you going to throw your stone for the kingdom of God? What is your stone and where are you going to throw it?’ A week later, Cody graduated from college … he got a stone.”
She had a challenge.
“If you ever leave a legacy for your children, let it be that you’ve taught them friendship with God, and that you’ve taught them to find their stone. And show it, show it. Throw it hard and well and transform this hurting world that needs God’s love so much.”
“Frank would want you to do this today: If you see a stone somewhere, pick it up and ask yourself that question, ‘What is my stone? What is the gift that only I can do in this world to make it a better place? And then spend the rest of your life trying to throw it well.”
That got me thinking.
At the front entrance of my office building, there just happens to be some stones. I walk by them all the time without giving them a second thought. In fact, as I wrote this, I had to pause, walk down to the entrance, and make sure I wasn’t making that up. I grabbed a stone and decided to write out what Frank stood for: a life of being second.
If we feel the same way, I think we should all take her advice. Find a stone today. Then, “Spend the rest of your life trying to throw it well.”