Merciful Children

Through our four children, mercy breaks like waves upon Annette and me. They delight us. All in their twenties now, each possess unique gifts and strengths—Greg’s kindness, Nick’s astute analysis, Kate’s perseverance and lack of pretense, Sam’s integrity. All four remind us daily of the gift God gave us in each one, each the fruit of our marital love.

For us, the family is all ‘gift’, each child a sign and a wonder. In each, we marvel at the mercy of God towards us.

Our children are a direct result of God’s saving love to Annette and I. Were it not for His restoring love, they would not exist!

In this season, we are not without regrets. We have wondered: Have we made decisions in service to God that demanded too much? I have travelled extensively throughout most of our married life. As I globe-trotted, Annette had to compensate for my absence. Amazingly. Yet her single parenting skills, and my phone calls and homecoming gifts, did not close the gaps.

Releasing Living Waters around the world cost us as a family. As the kids have grown up and reflected on the gaps, they have their own take on it. For example, Nick recounts my diving into relationship with him only to swoop out again; he came to resent that style of ‘impartation’ and would have liked just ‘being with.’

Another impact is the shame my children have felt on various occasions concerning my sexually broken past. I recall one large prayer gathering in which I shared my story before 25,000 people, my children included. When I returned to the family after sharing, my daughter could not stop weeping.

The impact of my story—amplified to such a large degree—impacted her deeply. How she wished at that moment that I was not her father!

Regrettable; I shall continue to ask for mercy from my kids for how my adult decisions hurt them. And they grant us mercy.

Last Christmas, snowed in and unable to do anything but be together, we gathered as a family and blessed one another for the gift each had been to us. (It was my idea: the kids mocked me mercilessly for it until they got into the flow.)

I have never experienced such a rich exchange among family. Sib to sib, sib to parent and vice-versa—the lines of gratitude opened up and we filled each other up with how God had met us through the other.

The best presents we gave out that Christmas? The way we recognized, simply yet profoundly, the unique gift of each member of the family.

I have always wondered how my children might follow in our footsteps at DSM. We started out as a specifically ex-gay ministry. Even though we have since expanded to help redeem other forms of brokenness, I felt unsure about how much I wanted my kids to find a place with us!

They have. Though none have experienced profound sexual brokenness, each has had to discover a path of integrity through an idolatrous world.

A highlight for me last year was Katie joining our local Living Waters group. She then traveled with me to Venezuela to assist on the team of a Living Waters Training. After that, she joined our leadership team in Kansas City for Living Waters. What a gift—prayerfully confessing our sins and needs together as a team then helping others week after week! We take pride in one another.

Nick went through CrossCurrent a few summers back; after University, he returned to DSM to do an internship with us. He is currently assisting me and has become invaluable to the ministry overall. He will soon be off to seminary.

I recall an incident many years ago in New Zealand. Nick had traveled with me there, and had just started running track seriously in high school. He was fast, about as fast as his father, who then prided himself on being a competitive long-distance runner.

We ran together each day. At first I beat him readily, but each day he would come closer and closer to catching me. By the end of the two weeks, he had surpassed me. Easily. I remember our very last run in which he had beat me by about 10 minutes! (That’s about one-minute a mile faster than me!)

Apart from a blow to my pride, it was a gift of God’s mercy. God whispered to me that my kids would take what they had gained from Annette and me and run with it–further and faster than their parents could ever take it.

Kids empowered by mercy to go the distance. Grateful parents. Merciful God.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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