February 10. All the pieces are in place and it looks like we will be ready to launch EMBRACED in two weeks.
Thank you for your patience, and for your enthusiasm. I really like Michael and it means so much that you like him to and that you want to hear his story.
To celebrate, let’s open the February giveaway a little early. 7 great books with HEART. Contest ends February 10. (If everything is the same day, it’s easier to remember.) Follow the links to get yourself entered and spread the word. (Kelly in VA, you might sit this one out since you won last month.)
And now Embraced Chapter Ten (If you need to catch up, you can read the rest of the preview chapters.)
It would have been easy to give in to warm, fuzzy feelings at this point, to indulge in what I call the romance of Christianity. It’s not completely unlike that heady feeling I enjoyed when I first knew that Stacy was interested in me. We all knew where that emotional high ended up. Of course, I’m not saying that God is anything like Stacy—or vice versa—I’m just acknowledging that saying you want to come home and actually making the journey are two very different things.
On the drive home from Memphis, I concocted plans for what I needed to do to win God’s approval once again. I’d find a church first thing Monday morning and a small group and a midweek prayer meeting. I’d get up early and read my Bible. I’d pray three times a day. Yes sir, I’d get my life turned around. I would be the kind of man my dad would be proud of. I’d honor his memory. I’d be the warrior Nolan talked about. Things were going to change.
Monday, April 17
My alarm clock went off and I had a flash of panic when I couldn’t recall what was on my schedule for today. Then I remembered I no longer had a schedule. I showered, but I didn’t shave, then I dressed in jeans and sneakers.
Christopher was hard to rouse after his weekend, but he woke happy and chattered constantly. “You make sure you tell Mommy those stories. She’ll want to hear all about your weekend.” He grinned. I got him dressed, and in his seat in the kitchen. “What sounds good? Bananas? Cheerios?” I cut half a banana in little chunks, spread some Cheerios on his tray and filled a sippy cup with milk. “I am so glad you can drink regular milk now,” I said. Then I sat down with him and took his hands. I bowed my head and closed my eyes. “God, thank You for this food, and bless it. Bless Christopher and help me love him like You do. Amen.”
When I opened my eyes Christopher was grinning at me. “I know. We’ve never ever done that before. That’s my fault. This was a pretty intense weekend for Daddy. You slept through most of that stuff, but Uncle Nolan and Nana and Uncle James and Papa all reminded me who I really am. I need to be the man God meant for me to be, a man Papa would be proud of.” Christopher stuffed a handful of banana in his mouth. “A man you can be proud of.”
We finished breakfast, then time started slowing down. The last thing I wanted to do that morning was to take him to the daycare. I didn’t have to work. I could keep him with me all day and then Stacy could pick him up tonight. She wouldn’t see him today anyway, so would it really matter whether he was with me or the daycare ladies? In fact, there wasn’t much reason to take him to daycare at all . . .
However, from that lovely conversation with my wife over the weekend, I knew she was looking for any little hiccup in our system to justify cutting me out. That was a risk I couldn’t afford to take. Even so, it took all my strength to pack Christopher’s bag and get him out to the car.
I kissed him goodbye and sat in my car in the parking lot of the daycare feeling pretty sorry for myself. No son. No job. No wife. And beyond that, no clue what to do next. Résumé. That would be a good start.
You see how fast all that talk about change got pushed to the side? God noticed that, too. When I sat down at my kitchen table with my planner to make some notes, He reminded me. That familiar sense of shame and failure rose up in the pit of my stomach.
You may have heard folks say that there comes a point when a couple sits down and has a very frank talk about where they are and where they are headed, a define-the-relationship talk. Sometimes, that can save a lot of future heartache by clearing up misconceptions. It requires fearless honesty.
Stacy and I never had one, and so I proceeded based on what I assumed she was thinking and what I saw other people doing in their relationships. I think I approached God the very same way, operating on assumptions and imitation.
So, I made a list. I wrote down the things that I was certain God believed about me. While I was wallowing in this, the name Aaron popped in my head. I don’t know anybody named Aaron. I imagine God was shaking His head at this point. Aaron in the Bible, genius.
God didn’t really say it like that. That’s one of the things I had wrong about Him. I expected Him to be a bit on the snarky side . . . like David, but He’s not. He’s gentle, kind and patient, like my dad.
Now Aaron was Moses’s brother. He was older, but Moses got the call to lead Israel out of bondage and slavery in Egypt. After facing down Pharaoh, and crossing the Red Sea, they arrived at Mount Sinai where God was going to reveal Himself. He gave them three days to get ready, and then God showed up with thunder and lightning so that the whole mountain shook. The people were scared to death.
Within a few weeks, though, Aaron made a calf to worship. He knew God, but he denied Him. The fear was long forgotten.
“I get Your point,” I said, closing my Bible. But I didn’t.
The point is, that’s not the end of Aaron’s story.
Read the rest of Embraced Chapter 10