For the Love of a Father - Blair and Stephen's Story

Description

Blair prayed for her dad, Stephen, for years. The Lord answered her prayers in ways neither she nor her dad could have imagined.

Falling Apart

Blair: About 10 years ago, my Dad was left to pick up the pieces of his wrecked relationships. He had emotionally withdrawn from our family. He had stopped serving in our family's home church on the worship team, and then stopped attending with the rest of us. Then my parents' marriage fell apart, and Dad got even worse. My sister, brother and I were so miserable because mom was hurt and wanted to cut him out of her life, and when we visited him at his house there was a lot of tension.

Then, for the next seven years, Dad fought alone through the ups and downs of a having a brain tumor, the diagnosis of Cushing's disease, and the depression it caused. Throughout this time, I prayed God would surround him with a group of godly men to pour into his life. I prayed he would find a church he loved, in which he could relate to the pastor. I prayed for God to soften his heart, so he would turn back to Jesus. Dad was doing life alone, and the effects of this were worse for him, spiritually, than anything the disease had done to him.

Stephen: The feeling I got when I actually stepped back and looked at my life was one of horror. Not only did I feel like I had lost my family, I just knew God didn’t want me, much less ever want to use me again. I had such a warped view of God and His grace. I thought it was about appearances. I thought the church was just for pretty people with pretty clothes and pretty, perfect lives. I still thought of God as the tyrant I learned about in Vacation Bible School, reinforced every Sunday by an angry preacher. I thought if I sinned, I was going to hell, and God’s forgiveness was temporary, conditional. Now, His patience had run out and I couldn’t get His forgiveness back. I just knew I couldn’t fit in to any church.

Blair: The first time I attended NewSpring Greenville was during the "No Perfect People Allowed" series while I was at North Greenville University. I begged my dad to listen to that sermon, but he wouldn't. So, instead I simply began to tell him what I learned from NewSpring's messages. I spent summers at home with him in Myrtle Beach and watched NewSpring online on Sunday mornings, and my Dad and sister started watching with me. He began watching by himself on a semi-regular basis when I went back to school. And I began to pray for God to bring a NewSpring campus to Myrtle Beach.

Stephen: Pastor Perry spoke to me and my circumstances every time I heard him. Best of all, he didn’t seem to be perfect. In fact, he admitted his screw-ups and faults from the stage. I had never heard pastors admit they were faulty. They believed "No perfect people were allowed" so much it was printed on T-shirts. I was the loneliest, most miserable person in the world. I wanted a real relationship with Jesus—this was real!

A Changed Heart

Blair: One morning, I sent dad a text message as I was leaving the 11:15 service in Greenville telling him to watch online, because Pastor Perry spoke directly to issues Dad and I had talked about. He texted back, "Drove to the Charleston campus today. Pastor P brought the Word! Some things I definitely needed to hear." My Dad, who 10 years before could not be dragged to church, drove almost two hours to go. I felt so loved and taken care of by my heavenly Father, because He drew my earthly father back to Himself!

Stephen: I got remarried in the summer of 2011 and we were both driving to other campuses to be part of the NewSpring vision and community. And in the fall, they announced the launch of a campus in Myrtle Beach. Blair told me she had been praying for a campus in Myrtle Beach, and looking back at the way the puzzle pieces all came together, it’s as if God put Myrtle Beach on the NewSpring calendar just for us!

We had seen God do miracles in our lives but knew we still had work to do. I have come to an understanding of Christ’s love and what He did on the cross in a much different light. Released from the bondage of thinking I had to win His love and forgiveness, it gave me freedom to walk closer to Him than ever. And as an added bonus, my four daughters, my son and his wife, and my grandchild all attend NewSpring. And I am no longer doing life alone.

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