State of Miracles
First of two parts
Sometimes major decisions in life turn on small, mysterious incidents. Looking back, it is easy to gauge their earth-shattering significance, although at the time one could only see pain and confusion.
I reflected on that truth last week on a visit to Colorado, where we lived from 1981-87. One reason for our move: a desire to get my stepson away from some of the bad characters he ran around with in West Virginia.
Imagine our surprise when he took up with carbon copies out west. Moving 1,300 miles accomplished nothing. Or so we thought.
A month after school started, an official called my wife at work to let her know that her son had hardly ever shown up for class. Bored with traditional academic life when his skills in carpentry should have been honed in a vocational trade school environment, he decided to drop out.
Quitting school is one thing. But when you replace it with laying around, hanging out with other dropouts and refusing to look for work, it’s a prescription for disaster.
After receiving a call one day from our landlord that my stepson had been joy riding around the subdivision with friends and disturbing neighbors, my wife called his father and said, “Your son’s coming to live with you.”
Three days later, we put him on a bus for Ohio. End of problem—or so I thought.
Turns out living with Dad wasn’t the treat he thought it would be. Two months later, my stepson called one Sunday morning. I could tell from my wife’s end of the conversation that it involved his desire to return to Colorado.
Strange Force in Action
At the end of a long conversation, she handed me the phone, saying he wanted to talk to me. After hearing his request, it felt like a strange force took hold of my jaw. The words that came out of my mouth were the last thing I expected to say: “It’s all right with me if you go back to school.”
As soon as I hung up the phone, I thought, “Why did I say that? I don’t want him coming back here.”
We stalled making travel arrangements to make sure he was serious. In the meantime, I fought an impending sense of doom and fought the worst case of nerves I had ever experienced.
Although I had grown up in church, I steadily drifted away and followed my own desires. Since I knew what I was doing was wrong, I alleviated my guilty conscience by staying away from church.
For 15 years I had thought I had done a pretty good job of running my life. Now, I had to admit that maybe I wasn’t doing such a great job. In that instant, I regretted wandering away from church.
The Best Thing
Soon after that, we approached a deacon at the church we occasionally attended after settling west of Denver. Since he had been a former motorcycle rider and drug pusher, we figured he would know how we could help our son.
After my wife explained the situation and said, “We’d like to know what we can do to help him.” As he looked at me instead of her, the deacon replied, “There’s nothing you can do for him. The best thing you can do is get right with God.”
Those words struck me with the force of truth. I knew he was right. I quickly invited him to visit our home two nights later. There I prayed and vowed to live for Christ instead of myself. My wife made the same decision several days later.
Which is one reason a visit to Colorado always holds special significance for us.
Next Time: A Mysterious Presence