by Kasey McFarland
June 29th, 2009
I have very low expectations of God. Or, I should say, I had very low expectations of God. The only problem was--I didn’t know it.
“Nine o’clock, he’s late again,” I thought. Throughout the week I had noticed that when my fifteen year old had free time, open access to basketball hoops, and friends to team up with, he wasn’t the most responsible boy on campus when it came to making his appointments on time.
With a longsuffering and put-upon sigh that can only come from a mother of a teenager, I continued to wait. In a little over a half an hour, all the gates on campus would be closed for the Sabbath. There was no traffic allowed from sundown to sundown and if we got locked in we would miss an opportunity to enjoy spending time with our friends at their lakeside cottage.
Irritated at my teenage son’s irresponsibility, my first text message read, “Where are you?”
Surely he was on his way, so I calmly awaited his reply. As minutes ticked by with no response or sign of his appearing, new text messages were fired off, each progressing in urgency with each additional minute of delay. If we were late arriving at our friend’s house, I was sure it would make us look like terribly inconsiderate people.
Soon, my frustration turned to anger and I began calling-- over, and over, and over. On the first call, I left a voice mail. After that, the call wouldn’t connect, or it would be cut off mid-ring. Once the number was no longer in service, and finally an automated message said that I couldn’t connect to the network! Nearly every single call had failed to connect!
Thinking that my son was disconnecting the calls, ignoring me, or that he had turned his phone off, I became furious. It was now going on 9:30, only 8 minutes until sundown. More text messages were sent as my anger began to slowly boil.
As Sabbath approached with still no answer, I decided to park in a parking lot outside campus so when my son finally decided to grace us with his presence, we could still have the option of leaving. I sent our new location via text message, thinking that it would be read and responded to, at his convenience, of course.
Around 9:45 pm, after the sun had set, I attempted one last phone call. I was unable and unwilling to wait for him any longer but wanted to leave a message explaining that we were leaving without him and to stay at the camper and be ready for church in the morning. To my surprise, the call went through fine and my son answered.
“Where…..are……you….?” I ground out.
“Outside my class,” he responded.
“You were supposed to meet me at nine o’clock. Didn’t you get my text messages?” I yelled. “Now we’re going to be late!” My anger had now reached a full rolling boil.
“What’s the worst that can happen if we’re late?” he shouted back in defense.
“Our friends are waiting for us, I don’t know where I am going, and it’s dark! Not to mention that they will probably think we are the rudest people in the world!” I replied.
Shaking with frustration and disappointment at my son’s perceived lack of respect for me and others, I angrily reminded him that he and his brother were supposed to wait at the campsite during the evening class until I finished my duties for the day. Then they were going to meet me at our agreed upon spot and at the agreed upon time. I pointed out that if they had obeyed me, none of this would have happened!
“Well, I’m glad I went!” he yelled as he hung up on me for the first time ever.
A couple of minutes went by before I could hear anything except the ringing in my ears, or see any other color but red. My world had faded to black and as it returned, I took a deep breath and prayed that God would help me not to strangle on the Sabbath day. I thought that doing so would violate a commandment or two.
I sat in silence, but the voice of God was loud in my ears. He said to give my son a chance to explain, there was a good reason for why he was late. I didn’t want to listen. I wanted to be angry, and I wanted my son to know I was angry. I wanted him to understand he can’t just be rude and inconsiderate to people. I told God that he needed to know how to be prompt, and how to keep his word. He needed to be responsible! And it was my duty as his mother to teach him how.
As I struggled to regain my composure, I spotted my first born child, now a teenager, making his was across the field right in front of us. He walked with a slight limp, his right leg bearing just a little bit more weight than his left, not because he was injured, but out of habit that only a mothers eye would recognize. I could see the dread and fear in his bearing as he approached the passenger door and my anger cooled down noticably. Cautiously he opened the door and got in, steeling himself for the angry words he was sure were coming.
Instead, by God’s grace, I said nothing. I gently put the car in gear, and began the journey to our long overdue rendezvous with friends. After a few minutes of tense silence, I looked over to my son and sternly said, “Don’t ever hang up on me again. If you have something to say, say it. I don’t have to like it, and it might make me angry at the time, but have the courage to say it anyway, do you understand?” He nodded briefly in acknowledgement.
In a calmer voice I asked, “So what was so important about your class tonight? Why are you glad you went?”
To which he replied, “I responded to the altar call to be baptized.”
Once again, my world dissolved and my vision faded. Only this time, all I saw was a pin prick of light which grew until it exploded into a bright white glow. I felt the heat of it in my heart and I saw it in my mind at the same time. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before and I began to cry. The prayers of a mother for her child were being answered. My son had chosen Jesus to be his Lord. There are no words to describe how I felt at that moment.
As I looked over at my son, he was crying too; my big, strong, independent teenage boy who refuses to cry, had tears running down his sunburned cheeks. He had defied my wishes, disappointed me, made me angry, and he was sorry. His tender heart was always moved when he thought he may have disappointed me. And yet, the tears were also because he was making the most important decision he could ever make in his life. In spite of every possible obstacle, my son was choosing to obey Jesus’ call. That is a deeply personal and emotional choice in itself and was the main reason for the depth and intensity of his emotions.
As the importance of it all came to me, I laid my hand gently on his arm and whispered through my tears that I was proud of him and that I was sorry for the way I treated him. We talked quietly for a while and I shared that putting Jesus first was the most important thing he could do, and that I was not at all disappointed. I assured him that his determination to respond to God’s call in spite of me was a courageous decision and made me very happy. I asked for forgiveness. It was freely and joyfully given.
Late that night, as I lay awake in the guest room of my dear friends’ cottage, my mind replayed the events of the day. As I thought about the unreasonable anger I felt and the way I acted, I couldn’t help but repent and ask God to forgive me. God then revealed to me how the great controversy had just played out in the life of my son that very day. He revealed that He had had His hand over the situation and was in complete control despite every heavenly and earthly attempt to interfere or stop Him. I knew that the reason my calls wouldn’t connect was because God was not going to let anything interrupt the work He was doing in my son’s heart. What a powerful and loving God we serve!
That night God also gave me a revelation of my own character. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I saw clearly my lack of faith and what low expectations I have of what God can do in the lives of my sons and others.
See, I had brought my children along to camp meeting expecting only that they would become familiar with people, enjoy the activities, and possibly to make a few friends, but nothing more than that. My biggest hopes were that perhaps my sons would want to join me again the following year and they would become attracted to spiritual things more and more over time. Not once did the thought enter my mind that God would so touch their hearts that they would meet Him, hear Him, and accept Him as their Lord. Never would I have dared to hope for my son to make the decision to be baptized!
To my shame, it never occurred to me that my teenager could give his life to Jesus and meet the Savior of his soul. Yet, that is exactly what happened on June 25th, 2009, at 9:30 pm in the teen tent at Cedar Lake Camp Meeting. Despite every power of evil, every possible deterrent or distraction, and even with the threat of punishment from someone he would never choose to defy willingly, my son chose Jesus to be the Lord of his life. Nothing would stand in his way!
I am humbled by his example.
Isn’t it time to raise our expectations of what God can do, time to respond to the call of Jesus no matter the obstacles, and time to exercise our faith in God’s word? Isn’t it time to claim the promise that God can do “abundantly more than we can ask or imagine?”
What do you expect Him to do? Let’s put our faith in the Lord’s word and watch Him as He fulfills it in ways that we can’t even imagine.