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.”
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.