Devotional – The lost file

In struggling to put together a couple of short reels for another social media platform, I came across this devotional. It was almost 12 years ago. So much has happened since then. I am the lead pastor of a small and growing (by the grace of God alone) church in southwest Indiana. I was renewed two years ago for an additional 4 years. Daughter and son are in state competitions within their own interests and my wife works diligently to balance her career and home life. She does it successfully by the way! The mom mentioned is in her final time as Alzheimer’s looks to stake claim on the remaining of her mind. This, for those who may not know, is the beginning of the story. Maybe, if it is desired by the dozen of you, I will continue to open up what it is like to be a pastor. Its a complicated call, but one I am happy I submitted to. Without further ado…. an unedited devotion from May 7, 2011.

May 7, 2011 Men’s Prayer Breakfast

Jeremiah 29:11, it’s a verse memorized virtually by thousands of Nazarene kids in quizzing each year.  It starts off with: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,”  We can easily leave it at that.  He does continue but that would be sufficient.  

The day was June 6th 1981.  My family had a tradition to celebrate grandma’s birthday every other year with her and her with us on the alternating years because I shared the same birthday with her.  Most of us were very excited; I was a bit disappointed because she gave everyone a present.  What was that all about? After all, it was MY birthday!  On our way home we were struck by a drunk driver, permanently mentally handicapping my sister and causing our family a very turbulent near future.  We went bankrupt and temporarily homeless as we all stayed with different  aunts and uncles as Mom and Dad practically lived at the hospital for the 4 months Michelle was in coma.  

“…plans to prosper you and not to harm you…”

What do you mean not to harm you?  Michelle is now 35 almost 36 and will never know what it feels like to be a teenager.  Never  go to prom or drive a car.  Of course, that was the year Mom and Dad got serious about church.  Before that, it was here and there kinda thing.  Now we were there every day the doors were open – bible studies, camp, Royal Rangers you name it we were there.  Mom and Dad were never “leaders” of the church but loyal we were.

“…plans to give you hope and a future.”

Soon after that I had really vibrant and live dreams.  Satan would come to me.  He looked cool, well dressed, hip kinda looking dude.  We would go play a game.  It was surreal.  I could feel the breeze and smell the smells.  Our game was to kill Jesus.  I hate to admit it but we had fun.  I hadn’t quite dedicated my life yet, that would come in a matter of 2-3 years when I turn 11.   How’s that for hope and a future God?

Cut to Adulthood.  That’s 18 years old if you forgot…  we all know everything at that age and can conquer the world.  I was in the Navy because we are at war.  My first taste of freedom from that strict German household my mom had established.   I got drunk every chance I got and would call my parents just to tell them so!  Then I would get mail.  Mom wrote.  She included in every card or letter a proverb.  They always started with “My Son…”

Proverbs 2 1:-5

My son, if you accept my words
   and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
   and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
   and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
   and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
   and find the knowledge of God.

Even though my dog tags said Christian I wasn’t living like one.  Mom never gave up on me though.  Kept sending those stupid proverbs.  Nothing a good drink could take care of.  

The roots were there, but the fruit a little withered and dried.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD.  Yes He does.

Hayl and I marry and buy our first house literally 2 minutes away from a Nazarene church.  Its grand opening service is this Sunday.  Hayley asks if we can go.   I immediately think of that Nazarene pastor that visited and prayed with us kids EVERY day when we were in the hospital.  He was Grandma’s pastor not even ours.  I say yes.  Hayley gives her life to Christ on the very 1st Sunday.

This is where we got involved in the church.  Not just going but actively giving our time and talents to His purpose.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD.  Yes He does.

He, my heavenly father, knows the plans He has for us.

Michelle?  She was the 1st to graduate in the state of Tennessee with a regular diploma from the special education department.  She lives on her own.   And donates her time to caring for the elderly in her complex assisting them with laundry and grocery shopping or whatever they need.

We fought through a failed adoption.  The birth Mom changed her mind when she started contractions.  Broke our world.  It was a girl and we were gonna name her Eliana – God’s answered prayer.  A year later, we learn, although not medically possible, we are pregnant.  It’s a girl!

“…Plans to give you hope AND a future.”

Thank you Mom for pounding those proverbs into me, even when I wasn’t all too receptive.

6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
      And when he is old he will not depart from it.
      Proverbs 22:6

In the honor of my mom who so diligently and consistently prayed for her kids, even when we didn’t desire her prayers or attention. Now, I pray for her and that she may have a moment of peace in a mind that has nothing but chaos. I pray for my dad who watches her fade and the memories that flood his mind in the process. Regardless of the condition of the mind, we all still have that future God spoke so hopeful of. Let us all look for the future He has for us, not the one we think we want.

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