Most days start with a simple conversation… “Hey Kiddo’s what do you want for breakfast?” The response is very innocent but it speaks volumes to what we as parents hear at least 100 times from that point on every single day. “I want ………” fill in the blanks. Now fast forward throughout your day… Something about that phrase permeates everything that we do with our kids doesn’t it? My son is in a constant state of bombardment with all the things that he needs…. And it’s hilarious how a simple IPOD, or XBOX that somehow finds it’s way to the core of his being. He is desperate for the next upgrade, or update which of course costs him allowance money, which always leaves him in a constant state of financial loss… and momentary gain. My daughter is the same way. American girl doll, clothing, gymnastics accessories… it’s a non stop thing. I’d love to say that they’re the ones who are childish and naïve, but funny enough, that sounds a lot like me too. I know “WORSHIP PASTOR ROY” should have it all together, but if I’m being honest I feel like such a fool chasing temporary pleasure all the time. After all, it’s not my children’s fault that they act just like me huh? Wouldn’t we love to turn it all off? That’s exactly what happened on a recent trip to Guatemala that radically changed the core of my families existence, purpose, mission.
You see… I’ve been on a ton of mission trips throughout my life, and every one always leaves me the same, hyped up about getting home and turning this world upside down for the kingdom of God (and regretfully getting my starbucks fix again). This mission trip was different. My children…. The selfish little sweeties that they are were accompanying myself and my wife to a 3rd world country for the first time in their lives. To be honest I was scared to death. What we’re they going to do without their precious Xboxes and Ipods? What about the long drives into the wilderness and no air conditioning? What were they going to do when there was nothing to pacify them, and no one their age that spoke their language? What would happen when they encountered extreme poverty for the first time in their lives? What were they going to do????
….SHOCK US ALL
They were going to love.
They were going to serve.
They were going to forget their own needs and put others first.
They were going to have compassion.
They were going to hold dirty hands.
They were going to hold crying babies.
They were going to sweat and not complain.
They were going to play games they’d never heard of before because of the joy it brought other people.
They were going to fall down and laugh at themselves… get back up and play again.
They were going to sit in a smoke filled room where their eyes would hurt so they could hang out with children who were hungry.
They were going to be everything that I never thought they could be.
They were going to be …. The hands and feet of Jesus.
Leading Delmi home from school
There is something inside of us all that wonders if we could stand in the gap and somehow do something outside of ourselves that is heroic. I know this because for years I’ve felt a pull that I can’t explain every time I meet a child in need, or a parent who’s struggling to provide. Every time I step foot into a mud hut and look at living conditions that are appalling I’m reminded that there is something in all of us that dares to love, to reach and touch, to hug people that we’d consider unlovable. I just didn’t know that it existed in my children.
I watched in amazement as my children embraced hardship to help those who I thought they might try to ignore, but that is the truth of poverty… once you see it face to face, you don’t get a choice… you’re gonna go all in. As a believer it’s fundamental to our faith… Faith without works is dead… In as much as you have done to the least of these…. Religion that is pure and faultless… the problem is that we don’t take the time to see it. We’re busy in our own little worlds… and we also have this haunting thought in the back of our minds: “What if I see it and I still don’t care?” After watching my beloved children, who truly are the love of my life (and also the most selfish people I know) I am more sure than I have ever been that when we encounter injustice… all of us, even the most selfish, will become the hands and feet. Our lives have become so insulated that we don’t have to face the injustices of the world, and therefore we can keep the debauchery of our lives justified as normal. I know… tough word right?? Debauchery… I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong, but I am saying this…. Don’t feel blessed??? Don’t have enough??? Don’t have time??? I dare you to go see it face to face. Check out this video of my children’s perspective of what they saw… and while it’s a moment for me to proud, remember this…. I didn’t know such compassion existed in them until they themselves were face to face with the depths of despair in Guatemala.
I remember the wedding rehearsal, the way she walked, the way she talked. She wore a purple outfit and seemed to float around the church hall. She had all of her best friends with her and she was a picture of joy. I knew how lucky I was… I knew she deserved someone better than me, and that my job, for the rest of my life, would be to become that person. She loved me anyway. I was 21… I couldn’t seem to hold down a job, and all I ever talked about was how some day I’d be a professional musician and she wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. HAHA…. how little I knew about life. I now know that some-day doesn’t really exist…. the only day that exists is the one that you’re living right now. She was 23 and fresh out of divinity school with a masters in Christian Education and Missions…. What did she see in me???? I still wonder sometimes. More importantly… what the heck did her parents see in me?
I remember my father taking me aside and telling me how proud he was… and my mother’s tearful warning telling me “Son, this is serious… you don’t quit on this… you fight for it”. At the time I had no idea what she was talking about… today I know that she meant that Marriage is a commitment that you don’t back out of… and that it really would be hard…. man she was right. Thanks mom.
I’ve rarely seen the look in Cortni’s eyes like I did the day of the wedding… for the sake of pictures they let us see each other in the sanctuary for a few moments before the wedding… she was stunning. A picture of elegance… she looked like Royalty, a woman of strength and dignity… but that look in her eye… it was special. I remember we just stood there together… frozen in time, in the sanctuary surrounded by a rainbow colors as the stained glass filtered the sunlight drifting from outside. The look in her eyes…. “Can I trust you?” “Are we going to make it?” “Are you afraid too?”
Yeah I could read it…. and the only other time that I remember seeing that look was 2 years later when our precious little boy Avery arrived. I must’ve taken the picture, but there with Avery in her arms I saw the same questions in her eyes, and I’m so thankful that somehow it’s caught in a photo for me to remember for all time… valid questions from a woman who deserves answers.
The honest answer to her questions for me were simple. “I promise that I will fight for us for the rest of our lives”. As an out-of-work 21 year old dreamer it was all that I could offer…. but it must’ve been enough because the wedding went off without a hitch. I remember the music, and 1 song stands out among them all. You’re gonna laugh and it’s ok if you do… but we literally walked out of the wedding hall to the song “Testify to Love” by Avalon! Yeah I know, you’re thinking WHAT??? But it’s true, and I’m actually proud of it… you know why? Because LOVE ISN’T COOL. Love is reckless… love is ridiculous… love is impetuous…. love is whimsical…. LOVE DOESN’T ALWAYS MAKE SENSE…. but LOVE WINS. Yeah for a few moments Cortni and I weren’t cool…. I wasn’t wearing black like I always do… I didn’t even know what a V-Neck was back then… but I knew one thing… she was the perfect person to help me become who I wanted to be.
12 years later I now see things in a much clearer light… God really did put us together. God knew that I didn’t need another fan…. she believes in me to be sure…. but in every situation she sees how I can be better. God knew that I needed someone who would be dedicated not just to me but to Him as well. Every morning she spends time with the Lord… 5:30 every morning she’s up and moving. God knew that I was a night person and needed a morning person to help me be more aware of time management and efficiency. God knew I needed patience, so He gave me and unbelievably patient wife. God knew that I would fail… so he gave me someone who would lift me after I hit the ground. God knew that I needed humility, so He gave me an humble wife. God knew that I needed a challenger so He created a will in her that can’t be broken. God knew that I had spent most of my life completely misunderstood… so He sent someone who would take time to know me… who wouldn’t fall for the facade… someone who would be able to read me from across the room. Am I outgoing?? To you, yes… but to her… she knows why. Am I confident?? To you yes, but she knows why and if I really am. She knows it all and helps me to to focus on not being who I am… but aspiring to be BETTER.
I remember the purple dress, and I remember the wedding, and all of the struggles that brought us here… my wife isn’t perfect…. she makes mistakes, but you’ll never know about them…. you know why?? Because I see the best in her even when she fails. (Which is rare) .
August 4th…. 2013… 12 years… and I’m still so amazed that I get to call her mine. So here’s a question for you:
What do you see in your husband or wife that makes them special???
I see everything I hope to be in mine. That’s why I can’t wait for the next 12 years, or for that matter until I breathe my last breath.