I don't want to mess this blog up with a lot of blood and gore, so I'll simply say that our older son, Chad has been through a lot in the years since he left home. Kathy and I have always been confident that in the core of his being there was an attachment to God. Sometimes it appeared that Chad was running from that. On occasions it was clear that it was God's hand that kept him from going over the edge--various edges, actually. We can look back and see a trail of God's grace.
Yesterday, Chad was the guest speaker at Covington Bible Church. He told how he asked the question--first in fist-clenched anger, and then with submission, "God, I'm a good guy. What do you want from me?" Chad paralleled his experience with that of Asaph in Pslam 73.
Obviously, I am a biased observer, but my sentiments were echoed by a number of people who were there. It was a powerful message.
Bearing visible witness to God's work in my son's life, were his four children, not only present with him yesterday, but living with him full-time. His wife of less than a year, Tanisha, is another clear indicator of God's goodness. Tanisha is a Godly young woman, who not only loves Chad, but loves and "mothers" Christopher, Carrington, Madeline, and Kendal. Her coming into Chad's life, and Chad reopening the door for God to assume the place in his life that He deserves were processes that happened simultaneously. They are clearly inter-related. Again I am reminded of God's goodness.
Seeing our son at this point in his walk with God, enjoying time with his remarkably normal (from a Biblical standard) family was certainly great for Kathy and me.
I want to turn a corner here, though, because not only is Chad Kathy's and my son. He is a child of the church--the Covington Bible Church in particular. Not only did CBC provide him with a foundation that became that core that stayed with him through the dark years, but over the years numerous members of our church family have prayed for and encouraged Chad and his kids, and more recently Tanisha.
Many of our church family were kind enough to say things yesterday that helped us to maximize this "God showed up here" moment in our lives. I want to return the favor.
To those of you who:
- Encouraged Chad with emails, cards, phone calls, and letters.
- Went out of your way to visit him, or open your home and schedule to him when he visited Covington.
- Became aunts, uncles, and grandparents to his kids.
- Challenged Chad to come back to the roots that in his heart he knew were true.
- Encouraged his steps back toward the light.
- Put your arms around Kathy and me in the really dark times.
This was your time as well. Rejoice!
At Chad and Tanisha's wedding I was reminded of Pastor Bill Hybel's words, "The Church is this world's last best hope." At the reception I was able to Thank Pastor Kirk. He walked to Hell and back with my son, and had the singed hair to prove it. He was there on that day as the representative of of the Body of Christ to affirm two people doing what was right, and to challenge them to keep on. My brother-in-law, another pastor, who had, over the years reached out not only to Chad, but to his kids, and not only as an uncle, but as a pastor who saw the opportunity to shine the light in a dark and needy place, also took part in the ceremony. He emphasized the importance of family. Church and family always go together. Then there was the impressive display of unity by a number of the CBC family who drove 600 miles to attend Tanisha and Chad's wedding.
There are those who question the need for the church or a church. In this day of cable-TV and Internet, why should a group of people get together on a regular basis and worship, banding together to serve?
I hold up my son Chad up as exhibit one. Chad has interfaced with social-workers, lawyers, courts, employers, physicians, and schools. These institutions were helpful. There were individuals in these realms who went out of their way at critical times to help my son and his kids--and to offer help to others who still need it--but in the final analysis it was the church that made the difference.
In the right sense of the word I was very proud of my son, yesterday.
I was also proud of the church--my church.
Know that your labor is not in vain.
(PS: We haven't started posting messages online yet--If someone in our assembly wants to take the project on I'll be glad to talk with them--but we can send you a DVD of yesterday's message. Just write and let us know you want one. firstname.lastname@example.org