Within 10 days in July 1981, I turned 18, my mother and father separated, and my girlfriend and I learned we were pregnant. Although 10 days is longer than a week, I refer to this period as, “grow up right now week.”
Some people thought it would be best if my girlfriend aborted the pregnancy. Neither of us believed killing our unborn child was the right thing to do. We kept our daughter – and had another daughter two years later.
My girlfriend and I married in September 1981. Living in a small southern town meant everyone knew we were that couple. It was hard. It hurt at times. Having our older daughter was an incredible blessing.
Making a better decision was harder.
Our daughter is grown, married, and the mother of two of our grandchildren. She’s active politically and supports abortion-on-demand. She and I disagree on this matter. I am thankful she’s here to disagree with me about abortion-on-demand; and that she didn’t suffer the fate of over 60,000,000 humans killed by abortion over the past decades.
I enjoyed arguing back when… well, I still enjoy arguing. Just not as much as I’ve grown older. I used to argue with Christian friends in high school. I’m pretty good at arguing, some of the time. I ask hard questions.
I joined the Virginia Army National Guard in December 1981. The National Guard drills one weekend per month. During the January drill, there was no minister available to deliver a sermon to our unit Sunday morning, so our commanding officer allowed us to attend church if we wanted. My choice was between remaining at the armory and doing odd jobs, or go listen to a sermon with some team members. I opted for the sermon.
The minister did an adequate job preaching, but I was not impressed. After all, I was there to get out of work. Some of my National Guard team members – some of the same people who invited me to attend the mediocre sermon – asked questions about my wife’s and my situation. I answered, somewhat guardedly. We were not well at all. There was little money. We were constantly and consistently behind in all our bills. We struggled for food. I worked as a farm hand at the local stock market, mucking stalls. I also played guitar in a southern rock / country music band on weekends.
I shared enough with them, though, I reckon.
My team members showed up later that week with a couple boxes filled with groceries. Along with the groceries, they brought hope of the Good News. They smiled. They asked us to let them know if we ever needed help. We did. And they helped.
I could not argue with the groceries.
I believed. I was baptized in a pond just outside of town – in February. The water was cold. My heart was warm.
No. No, my problems were still with me. They included an inability to manage money – which stemmed from not having much money to manage – and an addiction to pornography with which I would struggle for decades; from which I am recovering.
Addiction is insidious. Like its author, addiction comes
to steal, kill, and destroy.
Jesus came that I might have life, and have it to the full.
nearly impossible to describe grace –
especially apart from the influence of God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit part
of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That’s why I stopped typing just now and
asked the Holy Spirit to join you as you are reading this.
Grace is why Jesus came to earth. I was separated from God by the many, many things I’d done. Jesus live a perfect life. And then He died like a common criminal. Because Jesus is a man, His death could be a substitute for the many, many things I’d done. That’s how something called penal substitution works, and it works that way even today. If I do something wrong and you are convicted of my crime and serve the penalty, I cannot be convicted of that crime because you have already paid the debt – my debt, in this case – to society.
Because Jesus is God, His death could be a substitute for the
many, many things everyone has done.
And so it is: Jesus’ death is a substitute for the many, many things I – and everyone, including you – have done.
Grace must be experienced.
My prayer right now (I stopped typing again just then) is that you would experience the grace of Jesus.
My problems did not disappear but the grace of Christ changed my heart. I no longer face my problems alone, I have a Helper; that same Spirit that I hope is with you right now.
Things are… different.
Jesus’ close friends asked Him once, “Teach us how to pray.” In His response, He said, “Give us each day our daily bread.” Any recovering addict will tell you recovery happens in day-sized chunks. Even if you’re not in recovery…
That’s how my first wife and I raised our daughter and her sister: One day at a time. When our marriage failed, God sent me Christy. I told Christy early in our dating, “I’m too old to have more children.”
We have three children.
Life is filled with stuff and some stuff is more pleasant than
You’ve lived through iterations of this cycle.
Jesus came that you might have life, and have it to the full.
You’re not too far gone.
Some of the more is better than you’ve experienced so far.
Don’t try to argue with groceries.
Just accept them and thank the person – or Person – who bought them for you.