Adam (11 months)

adam

On Saturday I picked up my cousin from No Longer Bound at 1pm.  He was able to stay with us until Brittany and I dropped him off on Sunday at 5pm.

He is graduating the regeneration program in just 4 weeks.

We had a lot of fun this weekend.  On Saturday we came back to our apartment and laid around for a while.  We watched some Netflix (funny movie, standup comedy, more standup comedy).  Brittany made the best tacos you’ve never had.

And later that evening we met up with some people we mostly didn’t know too well and went to an arcade type place called Andretti’s.  We did incredibly childish things and had a great time doing them.  We walked out of Andretti’s pretty soaked from the sweat we had earned by 4 way air hockey, ski ball bowling, miniature basketball shootout, and a few others.

The picture above is Adam talking with his niece Jayne.  He got to talk to all of his family members and smiled nonstop while doing so.

Adam got to sleep in a comfortable bed in our guest room and have his own bathroom for the weekend.  A big deal that most of us take for granted.

On Sunday morning we made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and had coffee and orange juice.  It was delish.

As we headed out the door to go to church I said, “Do you remember the last time the 3 of us went to church together?”

It was April 1st, 2012.  We had only been in our new apartment for 1 night.  Boxes were all over the place.  And there was a tension in the air for all of us.

Brittany was feeling physically/emotionally worn down.  On Thursday night we had dinner with my dad and the fam and we said goodbye to them.  It was one of the only times I had ever seen my dad cry as he clutched me in his arms in the parking lot of the restaurant and mustered, “I’m really going to miss you.”

That Friday night we had a going away party at Adam’s parent’s house.  We laughed and said goodbye to a lot of people close to us over the years.

“Remind me, why are you guys moving? And what are you going to be doing in the Atlanta area?”

“Because that is where we feel Jesus leading us.  And we can only see the next few steps…the next few days.  Anything after that is pretty much a mystery to us.”

We knew NO ONE in the city we moved to.  But we were trusting that God had a plan for us there and would help us develop quality relationships if we invested some time and energy into this new place.  It wasn’t just me moving away by myself.  Brittany was trusting me and trusting that God knew what he was doing, even though we really had no idea of what the next week looked like.

Heck, I didn’t even have a job lined up.

And that was nothing compared to what Adam was going through.  The reality of the situation that he had created for himself was settling in.  He was really in Georgia with us.  He was hoping to get accepted into a long term rehab program with no clear answer if he would get in…if this would be the answer he was looking for.

On April 1st, he had a lot of anxiety.  I still remember he was crying the whole morning.  He later told me he wasn’t going to the bathroom repeatedly just b/c of stomach problems.  He was going in our guest bathroom to cry.

Feeling the weight of his life’s decisions.  Feeling the shame of being an addict. And feeling the guilt of showing his family, by his actions, that he didn’t really love them.

On April 1st, the sermon was from my favorite text in the Bible.  Matthew 5.

14 You are the light of the world. A city (strategically placed) on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

During the sermon that first Sunday, the pastor made a remark that I will never forget.

“Maybe you just moved here from Orlando…and you think this is all a random set of circumstances.  But God has strategically placed you in this area for a purpose you might not be aware of.”

Whoa.

Calm down.

Did he really just use that specific example?

Adam missed that part of the message b/c he was in the bathroom.  Crying some more.

So this week as I asked that question (remember the last time we went to church together…), I wanted Adam (and myself) to think about all that had taken place in the last 11 months since we had moved.

During the music portion of the service this Sunday, I closed my eyes.  I thought about April 1st.  I remembered what it felt like to sit beside Brittany and Adam and cling to the confidence I had in Jesus.  Knowing that he was the one leading us in this move.  Even though we had no idea where that would take us.

I thought about the numerous conversations I have had with Adam along the 11 months.  I was no longer talking to a child.  I was talking to a man.  And he was speaking truth for the first time.

I thought about Brittany.  And how much she trusted me.  It was a little overwhelming, so I didn’t dwell on it.

I thought about the relationships that we had gained since we moved here.  The people we now called our friends.

I thought about the opportunities/influence we had been given in such a short time in this new place.  It wasn’t fair.  And it had nothing to do with us.

I thought about the 2 hour conversation we were able to have this past Tuesday with one of the most influential pastors in America.  Not because we deserved to.  But because Jesus had lined up things so that I could tell that man and his wife, “thank you” face to face for saying yes to Jesus.  Because in doing so, it drastically affected my personal life and my relationship to God.

After the service was over we stood around and talked with some friends of ours that hadn’t gone to church on a regular basis in several years.  We weren’t better than them.  We were blessed to know them.

While we talked, Adam walked.  He walked around the church building and later told me that he spent that time thinking about all that had taken place in his own life over the last 11 months.

Things that if you knew him as well as I did…you might have thought they were impossible.

But the truth is that God, before time began, offered not only forgiveness for all things…but he offered redemption for all things. (Eph 1:7)

He isn’t simply here to forgive the junk in our lives, but he is able to do something quite remarkable and redeem the things that disgust us about our lives.  And he made that offer a long time before Adam ever wound up at No Longer Bound.  Before I was at the brink of turning my back on Jesus.

Because he knew we would be in those places.  And he didn’t simply want to forgive all of the things we did to put ourselves in those situations.  He wanted to redeem all of the things that we did and that were done to us to get us into those places.

“What is next?”

That is the most popular question that Adam hears right now.  And it is a question that I am asked on a regular basis as well for my own life.

And the answer isn’t a plan or a principle.

It is a person.

Jesus is next.

I’ve seen it in the 11 months that I have watched my cousin…my brother Adam. I have seen it in the 11 months I have walked side by side with Brittany.  I have seen it in the 11 months that I have looked in the mirror day after day.

As far as the details of our life…they aren’t nearly as important as the Person who we have placed the entire weight of our lives…our trust…on/in.

And with that in mind, we move another step forward.  Not nearly as concerned with things that won’t be remembered as we used to be.  Not nearly as focused on our past failures as we used to be.

Because we are not only offered forgiveness.

We are offered redemption.

It is better than a remarkable story.  It is true.  

Advertisements

Shhhhhh…

Since we moved 10 and a half months ago, I haven’t sang a single song at church.  Sang a single song is kind of a tongue twister.

My last 10 years in Orlando I sang on the stage most Sundays of 9 of those years. When I say I haven’t sang a single song (it is even hard to type that phrase) at church since we moved I am not simply talking about singing on the stage in front of people.

We attend a pretty large church that has a ton of people that can sing and play the guitar far better than I will ever be able to.

But every Sunday since April 1st of 2012, I have stood in the crowd and I haven’t sang.

It isn’t a rebellious thing.  And it isn’t because I am standing there admiring the musical talent on stage.

For the last 12 years I have had the privilege of singing from the stage in different churches.  Leading in songs that worship Jesus.

It was awesome.

And any time I wasn’t the one leading, I would stand and analyze the person leading.

That was dumb.  But true.

But our very first Sunday at our new church here in the Atlanta area, I was sitting next to my wife, Brittany, and also next to my cousin Adam.  The following day we would check Adam into a rehab program.

We didn’t know anyone in our new city.  Both Brittany and Adam had some nervous sickness going on.

What were we doing here?

What led us to this place?

And as the music started to play and the leaders on stage began to sing, I couldn’t seem to get any words out.

It wasn’t because I wasn’t believing the words of the songs being sang.

In a way I don’t really know how to describe accurately, it was as if Jesus was quietly whispering to me…

“shhhhhhhh…”

I remember thinking, “this is weird.”

And then it was almost audible as Jesus said, “let me sing to you for a while…”

And apparently “for a while” meant more than just the 3 songs that day.

Zephaniah 3:16b-17:

“Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

You could have no idea what those old words have meant to me.

I have led music at churches so many times and totally disregarded these words.

Every week that we have gone to church since we have moved here, I am brought to tears.  Sometimes it is within the first 30 seconds of the first song that is upbeat and not emotional.  Sometimes it is within a part of the sermon that is not that compelling.

For me, part of that is that it is simply that Jesus has allowed me to hear him “rejoicing over me with singing” maybe for the first time ever.

What if, with as much emotion as I have sang songs about how much I love Jesus, Jesus has sang songs with great emotion about how he loves me?

What if week after week after month after month Jesus has wanted me to not sing so that He could let me listen to him singing about how much he loves me?

And guilt has no part in the song?

But Jesus is simply rejoicing over me.

It is quite absurd.

And it is entirely true.

This is a song I helped write with one of my great friends, Kyle Carden based on the verse above.  Now, more than ever, I think about this song all the time.  What if Jesus wanted to quiet me with his love, rather than silence me with shame?

What if He actually rejoiced over me?

And what if I stopped singing long enough to hear a song that has always been sung about me?