John sat rigidly on the edge of the couch as I entered the room. He was a large muscular man with broad shoulders, appearing somewhere in his thirties. He seemed guarded as I clumsily stepped over some toys on the floor and held out my hand to introduce myself. He surprised me with a slight smile and hearty thumb shake. Likewise, I turned to Sarah sitting next to him who appeared a little younger than he, and extended my hand. We smiled as she grasped it firmly with a gentle shake.
I sat down and we began our conversation in a whirlwind of busy activity as their two children; a boy, three-and-a-half, and a girl, just turned two, rivaled for the toys being strewn all over the floor.
They appeared clean and well cared for, happy and healthy. With apparent gladness, they freely roamed through the toys, disassembling every Lego connected to another. The little demolition team was definitely on a mission.
Sarah, with freckles scattered over her smooth light complexion, at eight months pregnant, had an uncanny calm in the midst of the storm. Peacefully, she explained their current situation: They were a family of four with another baby almost here, three weeks new to town with no income, and living at the homeless shelter.
I felt the fatigue as they both described John’s daily attempts at trying to find work. With no source of transportation, he diligently treaded the streets submitting applications at any place that was accepting them. However, with his history of incarceration, prospects seemed slim.
John jumped up - like a painful reflex - and hovered nervously over the two lively children as Sarah remorsefully began the tale of their past drug addictions. Consequently, they both completed rehab programs and were now attempting to pull their lives together as a family.
I saw a wonderous integrity about them, like diamonds in the rough, honed by hardships they had experienced, both apart and together. I also sensed a strong bond of love and dedication between them, and for their children. There seemed no question for these parents as to the preciousness of being a family.
Sarah looked up at John as he paced around their children, like a referee at a wrestling match, and then looked back at me. Speaking on his behalf, she sympathetically went on to describe his feelings of guilt and shame.
He looked at her as she began, and then at me, then sat down on a chair to face me. He spoke with courageous vulnerability as he revealed some of the painful emotions tied to his father – a rotten role model - and an abusive upbringing in a family he had not seen in many years. With piercing brown eyes, he declared he did not want to repeat history. With a tone of stalwart determination, he announced his goal at being a good father... like the one he never had. He reminded me of a warrior single mindedly set on fulfilling a specific purpose, and that purpose was to be a protector, a husband and good leader to his family.
I sensed their yearning for hope and wanted to show them there was a light at the end of the tunnel...and that light is Christ.
Looking at one and then the other, I explained how the Lord can take the worst of situations and turn them 180’. I held my hand out with palm down, and then flipped it over, palm up, for simple illustration.
They both seemed intent on listening to what I was saying, so I invited them further on a short walk with me in my faith as I shared about the Lord having a great plan for their lives.
I asked if they wanted me to pray for them. They both nodded and said yes.
Although it was only four short appointments where I was privileged to meet with them, they now hold a special place in my heart. I think of the beautiful whirlwind God brought to me that day, and it reminds me to pray for their salvation and daily provision.
Their lasting impression leaves me with a new desire to hand out hope - the light at the end of the tunnel.
On their last visit, John was wearing a carefully bundled infant securely strapped closely to his chest. In addition, last, I heard, John and Sarah were both working full-time.
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