It’s almost a self-evident truth to say that parents play an outsized role in how their children mature and grow. My life certainly bears witness to that.
My mom was the youngest of three growing up in the home of a deeply troubled pastor, and my dad lost his father unexpectedly when he was in his teenage years. They met while both were in Denver, Colorado, attending Rockmont Bible College, now Colorado Christian University, where my dad was pursuing pastoral training.
They married young, and soon both left Bible College to take jobs in the marketplace as they started their family. We would later move from Denver to Portland, Oregon, and then some years later land in Northern California, to the cheers of their middle child (me) who was eager to trade the constant gloom and rain of the Pacific Northwest for the hot, dry sun of California.
We were a ministry family involved with a church plant in its early years. My parents served all over the place and had a great reputation. That idyllic, Leave It to Beaver family life all came to a sudden crash when my parents divorced in my early middle-school years.
Through several painful interactions after their divorce, I was left with a growing and authentic commitment to God, and yet a deep suspicion and lack of affection for His people—especially those who led in the local church.
This shaped me tremendously, wounded me deeply, and served as a wedge between the depth of discipleship God wanted for me and what I wanted for myself. I had a deep unwillingness to submit fully to His rule and reign in my life.
After some significant experiences in God’s presence and through the great grace and love of a few men who discipled me deeply and patiently, I committed my life to God, and later to the work of His local church.
Like most, betrayals and pain have come and gone, but I will never forget those moments at youth gatherings hearing God speak to my broken young spirit and seeing His love and grace in the life of those around me. While the painful times leave their mark, it’s the healing experiences that build hope and joy in the God who redeems us to Himself and invites us to join Him as a sign, servant, and a foretaste of the Kingdom that this broken world so desperately longs for.
This past summer I spent a few days in strategy meetings in Kananaskis, Alberta, with leaders from across the NAB family. As part of our time together, we set aside some space to inwardly look back at the shaping experiences of our childhood, young adulthood, and beyond.
There have been experiences in my life, some that lasted years and others mere minutes, that deeply shamed me, shaped me, and strengthened me, but as I sat there reflecting on all that God had brought me to and brought me through, I was incredibly overwhelmed with gratitude by His grace, His favor, and His love in my life. There I sat in many ways still the angry, broken, and suspicious teenage boy, and yet in so many other ways I sat there with the voice of the living God inside me, serving to shape my home, my city, and my NAB family, whom I love so deeply.
Thanks be to God for His great grace, deep love, and tremendous patience.