HE WAS WAITING FOR ME AT THE END OF THE PLATFORM, AS ARRANGED. A decade had passed since we had seen each other. The passage of time had treated him well, I thought, with only a sprinkling of grey hairs in his beard. He greeted me warmly, took my bag and led me out of the railway station towards the car park.
As we wove through the city traffic, we caught up on news. We had known each other for over two decades, from before he and his wife attended a training course at Heidebeek in Holland. We had children of similar ages. I heard about the growing city church he pastored – nine moves in eleven years, each time to a bigger location. We began to swap family news.
But before I could ask, he pre-empted my question. Two of his children, he quickly stated, were living in homosexual relationships. A third was living with his girlfriend elsewhere in Europe, away from God and heavily into the arts scene.
That instant froze in my mind’s eye; the section of the motorway flyover we were driving down was caught in a still frame. I had no inkling about this. It came as a rude shock. Awareness of all the deep parental pain that lay behind this brief comment rendered me speechless for a few moments. How could I begin to know what anguish and introspection this couple had endured in recent times, I wondered.
Later over coffee at their apartment the couple talked about it further with me. What influences had led to the choices of the children? At what stage of their youth had the parents noticed anything? Why does this happen in some families and not others? No clear answers were at hand. Obviously these godly, warm and loving parents had processed this issue much with their church leadership, who had stood by their decision to continue in ministry. They knew God had no grandchildren. Each generation had to make their own moral choices. But many questions remained unanswered.
En route to the airport the next morning, my friend described the dysfunctionality of his own extended family as a partial explanation for their situation. But it was something American pastor Jack Hayford had once shared at a conference that had really helped him and his wife overcome self-condemnation.
Hayford had sketched three scenarios where wrong choices had been made despite perfect settings.
The first was heaven itself, where all was harmonious and glorious – until Lucifer rebelled in pride, and took with him a third of the angels. The second was the paradise of Eden, where despite their idyllic setting, Adam and Eve chose to rebel against their Maker. The third was the model discipling environment of Jesus and the Twelve, including Judas.
Yes, the Father and the Son fully understood their parental pain.
It didn’t immediately remedy the situation. But it was a comfort.
Till next week,