The Power of a Moment

Winter 2011
[original publication]

Winter 2011


According to the certificate in the family Bible, my parents presented me before the congregation of First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables and vowed to raise me in the Christian faith and the church. I have no remembrance of the vows or the water that was sprinkled on me. I do not even remember attending church. All I remember is that weekends were spent fishing, hunting, and playing little league baseball and football. We went to church on Christmas and Easter. I never understood why; it was just something we did.

The entry into high school was not smooth. I was scrawny and did not feel like I fit into Westminster Christian School. I did not want to be there. I wanted to be at Palmetto High School. It was a confused time in public education, and my parents thought the Christian school was academically superior. I hovered on the edges, ran cross-country, and survived academically. There was a lot of "God talk" around me, but it did not make sense. God was not a concern, though there was always a part of me in my struggle for independence that knew I was ultimately dependent on something larger than me.

During my sophomore year I ventured to a church youth group and Youth for Christ meetings in order to win points with a young lady who intrigued me. She was pretty, friendly, and kind. I remember the youth director asking me when I would accept Christ, and me laughing while mumbling something cynical. The youth director pursued me. As I reflect on that time in my life I realize there were four things that continued to attract me to the youth group and Campus Life club: the people there appeared to enjoy life and each other; they engaged me as a person and valued what I had to say; they dealt with questions that I had in a real-life manner; and they validated me as a person. Yet in spite of a variety of experiences—Bible studies, retreats, camps, and so on—the gospel did not click.

I remember the morning when my dad greeted me with the words "We need to talk." I had been at a party the night before and attempted to spike the punch. Unbeknownst to me the hosts had seen me, removed the punch, and called my parents. Sitting by the pool on a warm day my dad asked about the previous night's party. I responded simply, "It was okay."

He asked if there was anything else I wanted to tell him about it. I wondered whether I was busted. I did not want to confess in the event he did not know. I felt trapped but played it cool. He then told me that the host of the party had called and described what happened. I thought about denying it and accusing them of lying, but common sense won out. I sat there silent, busted. My dad turned to me and said, "I love you and I trusted you. I still love you, but you will have to earn my trust back." His statement sucked the wind out of me, and at the same moment the gospel clicked. I got it. I do not know why God used difficult words from a loving father, but he did. This marked the beginning of my journey with my new elder brother Jesus, who through the gift of the Holy Spirit is still at work transforming me into his likeness.

The journey was and is an adventure. It has taken me through some dark and lonely times as well as some exciting community-orientated and vibrant times. As I reflect on the journey, the question "Where is God?" is not a concern. I know from his Word, from the life of Christ, and from the witness of his world that God is good and at work in ways that I do not see nor can always understand. In Christ, I am confident that God is good, comforted by the truth that this is his world, and content because Christ is my elder brother.

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