I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a happy family. My parents were married for ten years before I showed up, and right after that my father lost both of his parents. He ended up turning to a little bit of alcohol just to take the edge off, and alcohol turned to alcoholism. A little bit of drugs here and there turned into drug addiction, and before my mother knew it, five years passed, three failed rehab attempts and my mother’s gotta make a decision: Do I stay or do I take my son and get out?
My dad wasn’t making better choices and made it really clear that he was going to choose all that over us. I didn’t see him for the next fifteen years. Then you start to question your value, your identity. Why am I not important enough for the person who made me to be here with me?
I started piecing together a mask so I could find out who I was supposed to be. I just didn’t like who I was, because if Dad didn’t like me, why would I like myself? So fast forward to age 20. I get a letter from my dad after 15 years of absence saying he wants to come see me and apologize for the past. I wanted to see him, so I let him come. My plan at this point was to see my dad, punch him in the face, and walk away.
So I go up to him and I’m getting ready to do it. This is the moment my adolescence has been waiting for. I tap him on the shoulder, and I’m ready to hit him as soon as he turns around, and I get a glimpse of his eyes. I saw his pain in the whites of his eyes that were so yellow. In that moment my rage changed to pity for a split second, realizing what he’d wasted, and the life he had, and this beautiful career, and marriage to my mom, and all these things he’d thrown away. I couldn’t do it.
Then we just ate dinner and had a great time. It’s the best day I’ve ever had in my life. We had great conversation. And at the end of it, he asked me would I forgive him. And he reached out for a hug and I pushed him away. I mean, there’s no way, man. You don’t get forgiven just ’cause you ask for it. Who does that?
So for the next few months, he would call me and say, “Hey man, listen, hey, I just want to say I love you,” and I would hang up the phone on him. This was my only opportunity in life to get him back. How can you make up for missing birthdays, and never coming to visit, no hugs, and not being at my games, and no, “I’m proud of you, Son.”? None of that.
How can you make up for that with an, “I’m sorry”? Who would forgive you just ’cause you asked for it? I couldn’t give it to him. I was just doing this my way, but I can look back and see God working in me even before I wanted to walk with God.
One day I was like, “I’m just gonna forgive him and let it go.” So I called him and said, “Hey Dad, listen. I just wanna let it go. I wanna know what it’s like to have a dad. And I love you and I forgive you.” And if you’ve ever had the privilege of letting go of a debt, ever had the privilege to forgive somebody, you can literally feel the opportunity you have to hand them freedom.
Even over the phone I could feel the freedom my dad felt from those words, “I forgive you.” Unbeknownst to me, that was our last conversation. Right after that phone call, my father passed away. My last conversation with my dad on this earth was, “I forgive you.” It felt like everything I trusted was crumbling and everything I’d hoped for was falling apart, and I became depressed.
One night I called “700 Club” and talked to a counselor, asking for prayer, and I was like, “Dude, if this is life, like, what’s the point of waking up? Like, why even get up anymore?”
But the next morning, I rolled out of bed, went straight to my knees, and said, “Jesus, if you are who my mother and my grandmother said you are, and what the Bible says you are, if you’re really that guy, I invite you to come in and change my life ’cause I’m tired of trying to live it on my own. I’m tired of trying to run things by myself. I give up. You win. I’ve screwed up a lot of things.”
And then I got to hear the blessed words from Christ that I was able to give my dad: “I forgive you, too.”
God gave me this incredible privilege to forgive my dad when he didn’t deserve it. It’s amazing that God is willing to forgive me when I don’t deserve it. That’s what the gospel is.
Romans 5:8 says it real clearly: “But God demonstrated his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s the message for you today wherever you are on this conversation, whatever your relationship is with your parents. All I know is if it’s broken, that’s not your fault, but regardless of that, the things we think and do that are offensive to God, he’s already opened up the door of forgiveness before we even did ’em.
“ . . . while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I was able to run to Christ ’cause he ran to me first. That forgiveness is something we’re able to give out now freely because he freely gave it to us, and it’s freely available to you.
If you’ve never accepted the grace, love, and forgiveness of Jesus, do what he said in Mark 1. Turn from your sin, repent, and believe that he is who he said he is. The Bible says everything is wiped away and you’re adopted into God’s family at that moment, and that includes me and you. We all need it and get to benefit from it. He’s available to all of us, arms wide open.
Hey, maybe you’ve never prayed to God before. You don’t know what to say right now. But if you’ve never asked God for salvation, here are some words you can pray and say to God directly, and he promises to meet you where you are. These words are a way to connect with God and share your heart from you to the Father in your honesty:
“Dear God, I love you. I know I need you. I turn from my sin and I turn to you. I trust that you sent your Son Jesus to pay for my sin before I even did ’em. And I wanna accept your free gift of forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation today. It’s in your Son Jesus’s name I pray, amen.”
If you do that, man, there are people that want to connect with you, talk with you, share life with you, help you with next steps. There’s a website for this show, mxtv.show/chat. And there are real people 24/7/365 that want to talk with you and be there for you. Click that link, visit it, and they’ll be there to help you out. God bless you on your life.
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