Allow me to tell you the stories of two people who have directly impacted my life.
I’ve always known deep down that the positive direction of my decisions growing up had little to do with me, and my ability to choose the right path. I didn’t know the source of that nudge then, but I believe I know better now.
Picture this: A young boy growing up in Boston in the 60’s, one of four children, and dad was a war veteran who had never learned to read or write. There were six mouths to feed, and no way “to make ends meet.” One day it was all too much, and this young 14 year old boy decided to take on the responsibility of financially supporting his family.
How? By selling drugs.
This decision opened up a path where violence, suicide, and death were common happenstance. The “last straw” came when his best friend had taken his own life. This wasn’t life, it was survival of the fittest. Food was on his family’s table, money was in his pocket, but death was all around him, and he found no reason worth living for.
He made his decision. With gun in hand, he made his way to the alleyway of a familiar gas station where he said, “if there’s a God, I’ll see you soon…”
Picture this: A 4 year old girl dropped off by her mother at an orphanage only to stay there until age 9. Her dad? She didn’t know him. He left when she was two. Her mom didn’t know any other solution than to put her daughter into someone else’s hands until she had the means to support them.
When she came home with her mother at 9 years old, everything was different, she was different. She had hardened herself to the abandonment, the pain, and the rejection. She became rebellious–especially towards God. A rebellious teenager had ample opportunity in the 60’s. Love was free and drugs were the new thing. But really, love was nowhere to be found, and the parties left her aching with emptiness.
At 21, she started working with a gentle and kind man, who unbenounced to her was a Christian. Over time he shared with her about the acceptance and love of Christ. He said, “imagine yourself in a desert, desperate for water, wouldn’t you take it?” Of course. That was her, desperate to quench her thirst, and in those words she understood that God was the well that would satiate her thirsty soul, and never run dry.
Here is the divine intersection where these two stories merge.
The now Christian woman is traveling with her friend from Western Massachusetts into Boston, and decides to stop for gas at an obscure exit in Woburn, Massachusetts.
The very gas station where this young 19 year old boy had chosen to carry out his life-ending plan.
The woman pulls into the gas station, and as she does, a troubled man on drugs jumps out of a 2nd story window across from the gas station, and lands in front of this woman’s car. Commotion and panic ensue, and the young man in the alleyway pauses, puts down his gun, comes out from the alleyway, and takes in the scene of a woman holding a badly injured man.
The young man joins the huddle of people while the ambulance is en route. He then overhears this young woman asking the injured man if he “knew God.” He couldn’t imagine a more strange question. She continued to ask him if he knew where he would go if he died. This young man felt as if his head was spinning. He was so confused.
After the injured man was placed onto the ambulance, the young man approached the young woman, who passionately and genuinely answered his questions about God.
Several phone calls later this young man gave his heart, and consequently his life to Jesus.
However, it took four years for him to leave his former life. And then one afternoon as he was sitting in his living room he heard God speak.
He didn’t know any Bible verses, but this one came into his living room like a flood.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”
The hair on his whole body stood tall, and He knew it was God. In that instant he rose to his feet, and chose LIFE.
He packed his car and drove to the only place he knew–A small Bible college in Western Massachusetts where the young woman was, and there he continued to choose Life.
You may wonder what those stories have to do with mine. Well, those two young people are my parents.
Did you catch what the verse in Deuteronomy said? “Choose life, so that your descendants might live!” That’s not only talking about my physical life, but also my spiritual one.
Now, I am not diminishing my moments where I have chosen Christ, but I am saying there is a higher law at work here than just me and my decisions. My father’s choice to take hold of life was in turn to grant me life.
God has stayed faithful to my parents decisions to choose Him by displaying a unique mercy on my life. I’ve felt it so often. A protection, a favor, a desire for God that filled the place where any lesser thing could be.
Yes, this is my story but it is also God staying true to my parent’s stories.
What we do in our life does not just stay with us, it’s trajectory is far-reaching. It perpetuates to our children and future generations.
Choosing “life” in the seasons we’re in project into the future lives of others. It could be future children, friends, or other family members. This story reminds us of the importance of our decisions for the now, and for the generations to come.