I truly am my father’s son. Long ago I would never have believed that, but it is true. For here I stand, following in his footsteps, filling his shoes. After years of rebellion, going my own way and rejecting every value which my parents tried to instill into me, I now preach from the very pulpit where my father’s voice once resonated. I am sad that he did not live to see this day, yet I know, that even now, he is rejoicing in Heaven, knowing that his lifelong prayer has been answered. The prayer that his wayward son would, one day, serve God.
For years I struggled with the mantle of ‘pastor’s son’ which had been firmly placed around my unwilling shoulders. As a child I had felt angry at the restrictions on my life and the expectations which, not only my parents, but the entire congregation seemed to have for me. I bitterly resented sharing my father with needy people who seemed to place ever increasing demands on his time. Time that I felt belonged to me. Was I jealous? I believe I was. And as my jealousy grew, so it developed into a simmering rage which constantly bubbled and boiled beneath the surface, threatening to erupt like molten larva and destroy all in its path, including me. I wanted to lash out and hurt someone – anyone. But most of all, I wanted to hurt my parents. And I knew just how to do that.
It began with cigarettes – sneaking off for an illicit puff. In time I grew bolder and decided to try something a little stronger. So began my abusive relationship with alcohol. From there it was a short and easy step into the world of drugs – LSD, Heroin and the most treacherous of all - Crystal Meth. Never once did I believe that I would become addicted. Not once did I imagine that I would lose control. For that only happened to weak people, not a tough guy like me! Right? I could stop taking drugs. Any time I wanted.
Oh, how foolish to think that I could turn my back on such a harsh and unforgiving master. For I had become a slave. Even if I wouldn’t admit it.
On night, not long after the tragic death of my father, I headed into the mountains with several acquaintances where, under cover of darkness, we could indulge the monster of addiction that screamed within our souls. A monster demanding gratification which our shaking and sweaty hands were only too willing to provide.
It was that night that I felt my soul separate from my body and I knew that I had finally gone too far. I had overdosed and I was going to die. Looking down onto my body, I was shocked to see how thin and emaciated it had become. Not only that, it was covered with filth and slime and a foul stench emanated from it. Was this what God saw when He looked at me? Stark terror gripped me as I became aware of the evil surrounding me. Cold, clammy fingers, grasping, clutching, trying to consume me – possess me.
A tiny pinprick of light shone in the darkness and brought back memories of a time, long ago when I had asked Jesus into my life.
“Jesus!” The strangled wail came from deep within my being and as I called on His name, the light became brighter.
“Jesus!” I moaned and suddenly I felt myself lifted up on the wings of a thousand prayers. The prayer’s of my parents and the congregation of the church that I had so despised. Gently I was carried into the light, and the soothing rays washed over me. Cleansing. Healing.
In the light I saw my father’s face and in his eyes I saw, not condemnation, but love. He said nothing but I understood. It was not my time. I was to go back and carry on the work that had ended with his untimely death.
And then I heard the voice of Jesus like a whisper in my soul. “You are forgiven.”
“Jesus,” I croaked as I slammed back into my body, which now held the fragrance of a field of flowers and which glowed with a soft and gentle light.
Is this how God saw me now?
And God smiled.
And the angels sang.
And all of Heaven rejoiced at the saving of one sinner.
The pastor’s son.
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