(From yesterday’s journal) — I looked at my clock. It was about 3:30 PM. I reflected. In less than two hours, 20 years ago, my life according to the plan of God was about to be tossed into the crucible of suffering. It is amazing to me to look back and think it was 20 years ago today. At this very moment my house was being emptied, in part, and set-up somewhere else. In less than two hours I would come home and see the piano gone and know immediately that my life had taken an unthinkable turn toward something that I could only consider as hellish in nature. My wife and kids were gone and they would never come back. Never!
My life as I knew it was over and it would never be reclaimed. I was gone. I vanished that day and a new person began. It began with a World Trade Center or Katrina start. That’s not a good way to begin. It was the most awful way to get a makeover.
I was a hardcore legalist, married with two kids. I lost my wife and kids in a day. My friends ostracized me. I was alone, sinking and with no hope of ever being rescued. Heaven dimmed. God moved. The lights went out along with the fire of everything I believed. The only thing that I had was sin. It “ever lives” and it was alive and well in my soul and in my world. Though all things around me had collapsed, sin remained. That is just like sin. It is a persistent reality. A principle that cannot be vanquished in this life.
There I lay in the unvanquished sin of sorrow, regret, shame, disbelief and hopelessness. That was 20 years ago and it was the best day of my life. God extricated me from myself. He killed me that day. Ricky died. How glorious!! How kind of God to kill me. I needed it. Unfortunately I still sin. I’m still selfish. I’m still demanding and arrogant and proud and hang with all sins friends. I’m not glad about this, but I know on that day something dynamic happened that is hard to explain. Ricky was set free.
It was 9 years before I fully felt the freedom. It was nine years of disillusionment and hopelessness and despair. But I was set free that day. I would not change a thing. I do not have any desire to go back to that day(s) as well. It was hellish on steroids and it went on for years. It was the kindness of God. Isn’t that just like the tension we have with our Creator? Bittersweet! Man, this is terrible: Man, I’m growing closer to God. Man!!
At six o’clock this afternoon I looked at my new two oldest kids in a way that I have never seen them before. My first two oldest kids were 6 and 4 years old, girl & boy respectively. My new two oldest kids are currently 6 and 4 years old, girl & boy respectively. I’ve never experienced my new kids this old before. They have now been with me one hour longer than my other kids. My first two oldest kids stopped being my two oldest kids at 5:05 in the afternoon 20 years ago. Today at 6:00 my new two oldest kids were still with me. I’m heading into a new life with them. I’ve done the 6 year old and 4 year old thing…up to 5:05 on April 8, 1988. But I’ve never done the 6 year and 4 year thing past 5:05. Now it is all new. We’ve broken into new territory. This was one of my bitterness-es: That I would not be able to see my children grow up. I didn’t see my first two oldest ones grow up. But now I can watch with much joy as my next two oldest ones grow into mature-hood. I’ve experienced the first hour of it and it was a blessed experience. It was hard to keep from crying as I watched Haydn running up from the backyard in his underwear, pulling a mat like a cape behind him with plastic sword in hand. It was all new. It was beautiful. It was another kindness of God.