I heard someone say once that life came down to a series of moments. True, of course, and on the surface, a very broad statement. It makes me think of the song “Seasons of Love,” from RENT. “525,600 minutes…”

But what he was talking about is more along the lines of life being a series of significant moments: moments that have brought about great change in your life, or had a lasting impact.

When I think about that now, I think about three particular moments. There will be more significant moments, of course; life does not stop happening around us, and we never achieve perfection.

So here are my top 3, right now. Not in order of significance…

Exchanging wedding rings with my wife.

I never ever thought that would happen for me. I thought that I’d had my window, and that I had blown it by chasing after people (and circumstances) I had no business chasing. I thought being alone was my payback for my many sins.

But somehow, on May 16th of 2009, I stood at that altar, and made my vow before God. It changed my life. Jenny has been anything and everything I could have asked for or wanted in a wife, and makes me laugh and think about God in wonder every day we have together. I love this woman…

The birth of my son, John.

Something else I didn’t think would happen for me. Jenny already gave me one really awesome son, and I pretty much figured that would be it.

But it wasn’t.

I remember the first time I heard his heart beat–so amazing (I’m way more emotional than my wife, I think). Can’t help it–I’m from Cali, and I’m in touch with my sensitive nature.

And then there’s October 7, 2010.

I got to meet John Ryan Wilkins for the first time. He was covered with the muck and blood of his journey, but he was also so very beautiful. And now he, too, blesses me every day, along with his brother. I love having kids (David said something the other day that made me laugh. He said he was glad he was a boy, because if he was a girl, he’d have to push out a baby. True, that, son).

Meeting Jesus.

Walter’s Camp, 2000.

I can remember everything about that night–sights, smells, music. What it felt like to have a burden lifted.

And I think if it hadn’t been for that night in March, the other two moments wouldn’t have happened at all.

What are your moments?

Parable of the Swap Meet

The Boy and his Father enter the swap meet and immediately the boy becomes aware of the assault on his senses. It’s in the parking lot of a drive in movie, and it’s immense. Everywhere, there is something bright to look at, some toy or game. He can smell popcorn from the concession stand, and grilling hot dogs.

Immediately next to the gate, there’s a display of three or four bicycles, and the Boy is enthralled. His brother has a bicycle, and he’s been coveting the three-year-old Schwinn for months. Maybe if he asked his Father, he could get one. The blue one was small enough. But they pass the bikes and the Boy does not speak up. He does not yet know how to ride one, but he’s seen other kids doing it, and his brother, and he hopes to learn soon. Maybe for Christmas. But his eighth birthday has recently passed, and he has five dollars to spend on whatever he wants.

As he walks through the market with his Father, he notices once again how impossibly tall his father is. What would it be like to be that tall, he wonders—to almost touch the sky. As they pass through a swirl of people going the opposite direction, he briefly considers taking his Father’s hand. The World Is Full of Perverts, his Mother always says. He has only the most rudimentary idea what a pervert is, but he knows it can’t be good. His Mother has only spoken of a nameless, general sort of danger, and has never given it a name, or even a good description. But she has made him afraid, and is satisfied with that. She thinks it will make him cautious.

But his Father is here today, and he is safe.

And anyway, he thinks, they’re just people. He’s eight, but he somehow feels the truth of this. Not everyone is a Pervert.

His father has gotten a little ahead, but he’s stopped to look at an outboard motor so the Boy can still see him. It’s OK. He can see the back of his head—gray hair with the round circle of his scalp poking through—and it’s OK. As long as he can see his Father and know the safety, the freedom from fear his presence brings, it will be OK.

The Boy sees a display of books spread on a blanket and he stops to examine them. They’re old-looking hardcovers—what looks like the entire Hardy Boys series—and he suddenly wants them desperately. He doesn’t know how many of the books five dollars could buy, but he imagines at least a few of them, possibly as many as four or five. He hasn’t yet bought a book for himself, and the only book he owns is a copy of The Black Stallion, and he is excited. He’s heard about the Hardy Boys—about Frank and Joe—and he knows the stories will be good. And as he stops to examine the books, crouching down to flip open the cover of the first book, his Father slips away into the crowd.

It turns out his birthday money buys an even ten of the books, and he looks forward to reading them, and the additional dozen or so that a list inside the cover promised. He can’t wait to tell his Father about the books, and proceeds over to where the outboard motor is to find him.

His Father is gone. He stands on his tiptoes and searches the swirl of people for his gray head, but it is nowhere to be seen.

He is gone.

The Boy feels a snake of fear uncoiling in his stomach and he looks around desperately for his Father.

“Dad!” he calls. His Father does not answer and he starts walking down the crowded aisle. His eyes sweep left to right, right to left, but he does not see his Father. He’s not at the Craftsman tool display, and he’s not looking at the old records.

What if he can’t find him? How will he get home? His five dollars is spent on the books, and he doesn’t even have a dime to call his Mother. Panic starts to set in and he feels himself begin to cry.

Sissy, he thinks. And he knows it’s what his brother would say if he were here. Boys don’t cry, and they don’t complain.

His hands are sweating around the books and he walks further into the swap meet. “Dad!” he calls every few seconds, “DAD!” A man comes up to him and asks if he wants some help. He’s wearing a fisherman’s cap, but without the lures, and the boy is reminded of his Uncle. He’s afraid, because his Uncle is scary, and perhaps even a Pervert. More people begin to gather.

He’s crying harder now, and he can hardly breathe, and the Man who is not his Uncle says “It’s OK, son. We’ll find him.”

He tries one last time, and pulls in a deep lungful of air, “DAAAADDDD!!!”

And then he’s there. The Boy sees the familiar shock of gray hair, and his blue and gray flannel parting the crowd of people and his Father is there. He has a bag of popcorn in his hand and a slightly annoyed expression on his face, but then he pulls the Boy into his chest and things slow down. He’s in the presence of his Father. He is safe.

“I’m sorry I cried, Dad.” He says. He knows his Father does not think much of crying, and he buries his face in his Father’s chest because he hasn’t quite stopped yet. He’s more embarrassed than he can ever remember being. He doesn’t want him to see. “I couldn’t see you. I thought I was lost.”

“It’s OK,” his Father says. “You’re not lost. I would never lose you…”

Me of Little Faith

I used to think Christians had to be perfect.

I think that hindered my coming to faith more than any other thing. For most of my life, I thought a person had to have this perfect life to know Jesus.

You had to be blissfully happy all the time.

You would never doubt God, or His will for your life.

You wouldn’t have marriage, family, or friendship troubles.

Even after coming to know Jesus, I would sometimes feel like I was posing, because there were times when I still felt down, or sad. There were times when it seemed God’s will for my life was not perfect at all, and that he might have even “had it in for me” in some way.

I never really had much luck in my relationships, either, until meeting my wife. Either before or after coming to belief.

And the truth of it all is that sometimes I still doubt God, even though my life is better now than it’s ever been.

I have an amazing family, and a wife that loves me in spite of all my stupid baggage.

I doubt when I see what the world has become, and the terrible things that happen in it—things that would break even the strongest heart.

I doubt sometimes. I am not perfect, and certainly not a perfect Christian.


I feel like if I didn’t doubt, if I didn’t question things from time to time, then I would be little more than a God automaton, wandering around praising the Lord in a monotone and handing out tracts at gas stations.

And here is the crux of it:

My doubts led me to thinking, and praying, and asking questions.

Asking, thinking and praying led me to scripture.

Scripture led me to truth.

Truth led me to Jesus, who was waiting for me.

And He is bigger than my doubts. He can and will handle my questions, and fears. He may not always give me the answer I want, and sometimes I’m still afraid, but that’s OK.

It’s OK because He is there with me, and always has been. And always will be.

What I want to say here is that I make no claim to having all the answers to your questions. I may not be able to assuage your doubt regarding God, and His will for your life.

What I want to tell you is don’t abandon your faith because of struggle, or because you doubt that a loving God exists.

Wrestle with God—Jacob did.

Ask Him questions. Ask your pastor, if you have one.

Delve into scripture with a disciple’s heart. Psalms in particular are filled with laments, and crying out to God with unimaginable pain.

And pray.

MC Hammer may have been one of the cheesiest rappers of all time, but I think he had it right when he said “you’ve got to pray just to make it today.”

It’s true that we live in a fallen world, and faith is sometimes hard to come by.

So when I read about writers and speakers like Rob Bell who call people into a dialogue about things that may be controversial, I think maybe it’s a good thing. It sheds lights on subjects probably lots of people think about but don’t have the rocks to mention.

Because I believe everyone has doubts, and questions.

I think writers like Bell cause people to seek answers to those questions, and once again, I believe that’s a good thing.

I will say, though, that no writer, or pastor, or speaker can lay claim to knowing the mind of God other than how it is described in scripture, and when such men and women start putting words into the mouth of the almighty they will most likely run into a buzz saw of trouble.

I don’t know what Mr Bell says about Heaven or Hell in his new book, because I haven’t read it. I probably will read it, but with the foreknowledge that he is but a man trying to stir thought in people, and hopefully get them nearer to God. And he did stir people up—not just with this new book coming out.

In my opinion, if this or any book draws people to look into the bible, and seek knowledge about God, then it’s a good thing, because I don’t believe God’s truth can be denied when earnestly sought.

It wasn’t for me.

And if not automatically branding Bell and others like him as heretics (as so many in the blogosphere have) makes me one, too, then I guess I’ll just have to live with the label.

The only one who can make that distinction is God himself.

And that ain’t me.