“It happened for a reason”
It happened for a reason. I think if I am honest with all of you and myself, my story has been filled with a lot of hurt and anger. Hurt and anger that was not necessarily directed at a person or an organization but toward God. March 22, 2013, is the day my father was let go from his position as the connections director of our home church of over 15 years. He had been on staff for over five years but had been terminally ill since November 2012. So, since we spent countless days and weeks in and out of the ICU, ER, and hospital rooms, the church felt it best to simply let my father go and with our family as well. Naturally, I would have been angry at the church, but instead I was angry with God. Not only was He taking my father away from me slowly, but also the church had now turned away from us.
When I was in Kindergarten, my parents enrolled me in a private Christian school in Clarkston, Michigan called Clarkston Christian School. While at CCS, my teacher, Pastor Bonnie, challenged us to come to church. As any good five-year-old would do, I bugged my parents constantly to go to church. You see, CCS was also a church, Clarkston Community Church. Finally, after a couple of weeks of me bugging them, my father said we could go. We arrived late and grabbed the seats in the back, closest to the door of course! Even though my father had all intentions to leave early, we did not. It was that first Sunday, sitting in the back of the church and ready for any excuse to leave, that my parents found Christ; it happened for a reason.
As the years came and passed, my parents and I became more involved in the church. They loved serving alongside Pastor Bonnie in the children’s ministry, and I would help her any chance I could. Even though she started as simply my Kindergarten teacher, she quickly became our family pastor and one of the greatest blessings our family has ever received. When middle school came around, it was time to find a new school, since CCS did not go past elementary. After looking around at the schools in the area, I found myself in a new school all the way in Auburn Hills called Oakland Christian School; it happened for a reason.
The end of my sophomore year, OCS was planning to begin a football program for the first time in school history. My buddies and I were very excited and began training for the upcoming season. As the fall drew closer and we continued to prepare for the season ahead, the youth group at my church was preparing for a missions trip to Atlanta, Georgia. I was asked by a friend at church, one Sunday, if I had considered going and I had not. Not only was I not involved in the youth group, but also, I really had no desire to be either. However, I asked my parents what they thought, and they encouraged me to go. So, I asked the youth pastor the following weekend if there was any space available and he said someone had already paid for me to go; it happened for a reason.
After that trip to Atlanta, my eyes were opened, and I experienced the love of Christ in a way I never had before. While I was on the trip, I lied. In my foolish attempt to impress the girls in the youth group, I made it known that I was not only a football player but also a drummer. My father is an incredible musician, just as his father was. We had a drum set at home and I would mess around with it from time to time, but never anything serious, and I could barely keep a beat. However, word got back to the youth pastor, and the youth worship band was in need of a new drummer…me. There was clearly no way I could back down now, I was caught in my lie, and I either had to admit I could not play or ask my dad to teach me a thing or two so I could get by. I went with the later; it happened for a reason.
As my junior and senior year came and went, I got more involved in my youth group and in serving. My father was brought on staff part-time then full, and I spent almost every day of my junior and senior year at the church in some capacity. From playing drums in the worship band to leading Bible studies, and even being a counselor in training with the youth, I simply could not serve enough, and I loved it. As the time for college came, I only applied to one school: Moody Bible Institute. At first, I was deferred and offered a spot in Spokane, Washington, but I really wanted to go to the Chicago campus. Then, in April of my senior year, I received a final letter that I was not expecting, “Accepted to Chicago Fall 2010”; it happened for a reason.
Freshman and Sophomore years at MBI were awesome. I loved being able to study God’s Word and to continually become more equipped to serve Him full-time. Then Thanksgiving 2012 comes, and we take my father to the hospital only to find out that he has liver failure. The doctors gave him until September 2013, maybe Halloween unless he received a transplant. Over the next several months, we were constantly in and out of the hospital. On top of all this, my grandpa’s health began to seriously deteriorate. Although he did his best to keep fighting, on February 27, 2013, my grandpa went on to hang out with Jesus. Less than a month later, where my story began, my father was let go from our church of 15 years; it happened for a reason.
The year 2013 was off to an awful start. I was preparing to drop out of MBI, and the doctors told us that they would be surprised if my father made it to August. My mother was now in the middle of a legal battle over my grandpa’s estate, and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with God. I was angry, hurt, alone, and hopeless. My grandpa was gone, my dad was dying, our church had turned away from us, and the last thing I felt was the love of Christ. As summer came, I always passed a church just off the Holly exit as I went home every day. For some reason, I decided to stop in one Sunday morning and filled out a communication card. Part of me honestly did not want a call from anyone on staff, so that I could prove the fact that all churches were the same. Come Tuesday afternoon I get a phone call from John Rigg. At the time, he was in charge of the community outreach in downtown Holly, and he just wanted to talk to me and see how I was doing. Somehow, during the conversation, me playing drums came up, and he kept it in the back of his mind. That Friday I got another call from John, and he asked if I would be willing to play drums for the weekend at church since the drummer they had could not play last minute; it happened for a reason.
That church was The River. That weekend was my first of an entire summer of playing drums for weekend and weekly gatherings. Over the course of the summer attending The River, hearing Pastor Jim, and beginning to get back into church again, my hardened heart began to break. I decided I would go back and finish my final semester at MBI. On August 8, 2013, we received a letter that my father had been placed on the transplant list and was finally in line to receive a new liver; it happened for a reason.
August 10, 2013, is a day that has forever changed my life. It was the day that I finally understood the reason it had all happened. I met with Pastor Jim for breakfast; however, we were only able to meet for 10 minutes. The reason our breakfast was cut short was that we had received a phone call on August 9 that they had found a liver for my father and needed him at the hospital at 6 AM on August 10. When I told Pastor this, he thought I was crazy for meeting with him, but my father told me that I needed to have breakfast with him. I briefly told Pastor this story. He then asked me what was next. I honestly said that I needed an internship for spring 2014 so that I could graduate and finish my degree. Without a seconds hesitation he told me that when I came back from my fall semester at MBI, an internship would be waiting for me at The River. Then, Pastor Bonnie picked me up and took me to Henry Ford Hospital to see my father into surgery. After a 10-hour surgery, the doctors came out to tell us that my father now had a new liver and more importantly, a second chance at life; it happened for a reason.
My story is not finished, and neither is yours. Looking back, I understand, I see why it all happened. However, none of it made sense at the time, and I was left angry, hurt, and mad at God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul writes this simple passage, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” If there is one thing you get out of all this, I want you to remember this passage. The road we are on and the story that is unfolding before us is not going to be easy. There are going to be many times when we do not understand why things are happening, but God does. He knows why and He knows that it is happening for a reason. At the end of the day, never forget to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks.
Guest Services Director