Recently, I wrote a blog called “The Study Gladys Built.” In case you have not read it, I described a very special place in our home that was built by the previous owner, Gladys Lewis. The study first belonged to Gladys and Wilbur who built the home twenty years ago. As I said in that blog, it is a place where I spend time with God and hear His voice on the decisions that weigh on my mind.
Today, the mailman left a box at my front door. It was from someone I know well, but I was not aware he read my blog. The box was from my stepbrother, Curt. And inside the box was a bible that belonged to my dad. After reading the blog last month about the study, Curt thought Dad’s bible might find a more appropriate home in that room.
There are no words to describe the shock, surprise, emotion, and gratitude at this most generous act of kindness.
Before I tell you more about the bible, let me tell you about my stepbrother. Actually, let me tell you about all of my California family.
First of all, I don’t like the word “step.” That word indicates distance. It seems to indicate we are not family--at least not “real” family. Not “blood” family. I don’t like that word.
Ben, George, Corrie, and Curt came into my life with they were very young. In their world, their mom had married my dad and they had a new father figure in their lives. At their young ages, whatever they did or did not understand, they quickly found out this new dad really loved them and would do heroic things to help them navigate the future.
At first, it was interesting to watch Dad be a father to four much younger children. I really do not recall any jealousy or resentment. If anything, I enjoyed watching my dad do for those four kids what he most likely did for my brother and me when we were that age. To me, those four kids were cute, smart, fun to be around, and growing up very differently than Joey and me.
It is often difficult to give sermons about the grace and restoration that came to our family after my parents divorced. Their divorce was final on their 30th wedding anniversary. The topic is not difficult because I don’t like to talk about this stuff; it’s difficult because sometimes people are not ready to hear how God worked in our family after the divorce.
Joey and I received the gift of a new family--our California family--starting with our “California mom” Mindy, whom we love very much, our three brothers, George, Curt, Ben, and our sister, Corrie. A few miles away from my house here in Oklahoma City, Joey and I get to see our mom weekly and value her husband, Doug, and his kindness and care lovingly shown to her in these later years of her life.
I am extremely thankful for this family. Each one is a gift given to me on the other side of a storm called divorce.
Today, I received Dad’s bible in the mail from Curt and I was moved to tears. Tears because I was holding my dad’s bible in my hands, and tears because my brother, Curt, decided I should have it.
This was not an easy gift to give.
Curt, as well as his brothers and his sister, loved my dad very much and Dad certainly loved them as well. Curt and my dad had a special relationship. Not that Dad loved Curt any more than the other three, but that Curt, being the youngest of the four, had benefited from my father’s unconditional love for most of his life.
After Dad died, there were no arguments over who got what. There were things that, in my mind, belonged to my other mother, brothers, and sister. We shared our dad while he was alive, and in his death, we shared the memories.
So, as of today, I have a very special Bible laying on my desk, a constant reminder of a father who loved Jesus and His church, and a very special brother, who so graciously gave me a gift--one that meant a great deal to him and one he was most likely hesitant to part with.
My dad loved the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. His notes in the margins are very special. The cover is worn and some of the pages tattered. But put a Thompson Chain Reference Bible in the hands of a preacher, and you’ve got an unstoppable force.
In this interesting journey called life, I have found God has a way of getting us through things that we’d never choose to otherwise navigate. I have learned that God always gives His best, in all circumstances, to those who leave the choice with Him.