Thursday, May 18, 2006

Around my wrist hangs a faded plastic hospital bracelet. It used to be purple, then it was pink. Now it is pretty much white. Time, wear, sweat and soap have eroded the color from what once identified me as BJ's father at the hospital.

Before I moved to Tulsa, a friend asked me (with disdain in his voice) how much longer I was going to keep wearing it. "Until it falls off," was my answer. I could tell he thought it was pathetic. I couldn't really blame him. It kind of seems like I'm living in the past from certain points of view.

This week, I have been asked twice about the strap. First by a 6 year old young lady at whose house I was having dinner (Emily). Second by a man of some rank with the National Guard (Rick).

Though I keep it on to remind me of a 'faith so great that death was no big deal, ' I am still caught off guard when people ask me about it. I need to be prepared.

Emily is an extremely intelligent young lady who uses big words for her young age. She reminds me so much of BJ. He did the same thing. People used to laugh when they met him for the first time, as it is disarming to have one so young, come across so mature.

I explained to her that it was my "parent i.d. bracelet" from when my son had been in the hospital. That seemed to satisfy her, so we moved on to other topics.

Tonight, I was invited to dinner with some co-workers. Afterwards, the women were getting their hair cut, and so my friend Walker and I began to walk a bit. We were in a mall, so we just kind of did that whole "mall walker" thing. You know, you've seen them, or perhaps been run over by one of them.

As we neared one end where a huge store had gone out of business, Walker said, "Let's go into this recruiting office."

I was thinking, "What in the world for?"

I followed him in. Before us stood three fatigue clad National Guard recruiters. Walker began to talk to them. We both introduced ourselves. They wondered if we were there to "re-enlist." We laughed a bit. I was very uncomfortable. I don't do things like this. Just walk up to random people for no apparent reason. I could not wait to leave.

Then the one in charge asked me about the raggedy white plastic band. I gave a brief scenario to him without much detail... like I had with Emily. He was not satisfied. I gave more information, to which he responded, "Follow me."

As we walked down a hall that seemed much longer than it was, I felt a bit like I was being ushered to the principal's office. We arrived at the last door, and entered. He walked around his large wooden desk and pointed to his family picture. Specifically to his 6 year old son, Tyler.

He began to share with me how Tyler had recently been diagnosed with Leukemia. Suddenly, I felt like I'd known him my whole life, and was obscenely comfortable (to my previous way of thinking).

For the next 10 or 15 minutes we began to talk about our sons. Tyler is in remission. Rick wants to believe he is healed. I pray that would be so. He began to try to talk about faith, and the whole issue parents go through when their child is afflicted. I knew exactly how he felt.

I began to share BJ's story with him. I told him what he had said to me in the emergency room... I know you remember, but for any new reader's, "Dad, I know your scared. I believe the Lord is going to deliver me through this, but if he doesn't I'm going to be with him, and that's okay with me."

Rick shook his head. I went on to tell him how BJ had shared with his friends that he was called by God to be a martyr, to lay his life down for Christ. Rick shook his head more. I equated BJ's sacrifice to those of our military acquaintances who had lost their lives in the line of duty, and relayed that at 15 his faith was so deep and strong that he was willing to lay it all down because he knew that it was gain.

We talked more about Tyler. We talked about his nickname and how he resisted it. He did not want to be called by that nickname, because it reminded him of a neighbor girl. I told him how BJ had been the same way. That at around Tyler's age, BJ had announced to all listeners that his name was Brent, and he would no longer be known by BJ. Then a few years later, he rescinded this statement, and chose to be known once again by BJ. Rick's sons nickname is TJ.

Rick had 3 swords hanging in his office. I told him about BJ's rite of passage, and how we had given him the sword he had longed for, and how that was a symbol of his passing into manhood.

At every turn, I tried to point him to Christ. When those moments are over, I can always think of 100 things I could have said, or perhaps said differently. None of that matters. What matters is that Rick is seeking, and God directed a man, who recently arrived from Indiana, who cannot seem to let go of a silly sentimental hospital bracelet to share with a man's man, who was twice his size.

Rick and I walked out to rejoin the others. Walker told the men we were missionaries who took students to the mission field, and asked if we could pray for them. We did, then said our goodbyes.

Walker began to relay to me how the Lord had urged him to head into the recruiting office. He didn't know what the purpose would be, but followed with a heartbeat of obedience. I thanked him for that, as I relayed my fears and discomfort in walking into that situation. I started to tell him why God had led us there, but he already knew. The other two recruiter's had filled him in.

The Lord has renewed me! I give Him praise for this opportunity!

brent (dad)

14 Comments:

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Cedarburg Tina said...

Dear Brent,

I am sitting here amazed at how the Lord works and yet I shouldn't be should I? What an incredible experience for both of you. You may never know the difference your being there made in that man's life or his family. However, I'm sure it will be something that he will think about often and eventually recognize as just too much of a coincidence...hopefully he will be turned to God.
What a wonderful, faithful servant Walker is and you as well. Blessings on you both.
Tina

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger joenjeanne said...

What else can you say other than "WOW"!! To be in so in tune with God, to hear his urgings and then to obey them. I'm at a loss for words.

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May these God-instances keep you clear as to why you continue to wear that band around your wrist -- because it is an opportunity to share something so deep and so real in Christ. (And because you don't need to take it off if you don't feel the need to or feeled called to!) The Lord will continue to give opportunties and, if we are listening to the Lord through His Spirit and not our worldly flesh, His Kingdom will flourish -- and we will too!!

 
At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Linda Anderson said...

How awesome and amazing. Praise God for all that, and more! See, God can use the simplest things like a hospital bracelet to win people to the Kingdom! God bless you Brent!

Linda Anderson

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Linda Ronne said...

Brent it sounds like one of those out of my comfort zone experiences, but we know that when it's directed by the Lord that at the end of it, it wasn't at all uncomfortable, just different. What a blessing for that man to be able to share with you, and for you to share with him. You may never know how you impacted his life, but to know you were obedient is sufficent. God bless you for your obedience and willingness to share from your most painful memories and experiences.

Kevin and I have been offered a position, an answer to our prayers, to train as pastors and plant a new church. I am so excited and nervous as we start this new journey. I wonder if any of us are ready for the changes the Lord has for us, all I know is that when we are obedient we are filled with His wonderful joy and peace.
Keeping you all in our prayers.

In His Love
Linda
Shawnee,OK

 
At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a story! Your words never cease to drive home the message of obedience and God's unfailing love. Today's entry really hit home to me as I have a daughter who was born with a heart defect. I don't have a hospital ID bracelet to remind me of what the Lord has done in our lives, but rather a scar on my daughter's chest that matches the ones in my Savior's hands. While I haven't had quite the experience you described today in being led to share Kendell's story, I have had the opportunity to share the amazing things God has done in her life with others. I can only hope that Kendell's story can touch someone's life the way your stories of BJ's life have touched mine. Thank you for continuing to update this site. I look forward to reading it every day and have sent others to this site as well. May God bless you and your family as you carry out BJ's journey to the mission fields.

Jennifer in MD

 
At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Pamela from Bixby OK said...

What an amazing example of how God uses the seemingly "little" things in our lives to open doors for sharing about Him with others. Thank you for continuing to share from your heart!

 
At 6:04 PM, Anonymous On Our Knees... said...

Wow! Oh, I guess that is almost all I can say! Stay obedient to His call!

 
At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first thoughts were "lose the bracelet" - but then .... you must wait on God! He KNOWS!! WOW seems to be the word! WOW!!

 
At 9:08 PM, Blogger Praying in Pink said...

I guess I have a different perspective (wouldn't be the first time). I think continuing to wear the bracelet is fine--in fact, more than fine! I don't see anything wrong or weak about remembering and honoring a special time or a precious son whose life and death testify so powerfully to His Lord.

God calls us again and again to remember those things and people that point to Him. You are not worshiping the bracelet(!), and you are not worshiping BJ. How like God to use the worn, torn, faded, and seemingly useless to point to Himself! He does that with us when listen and obey. Even in shopping malls. Even and especially out of our comfort zones.

Praying especially for your weekend of reunion and sharing,

with tender love,

Marti

 
At 11:47 PM, Blogger Lattany said...

I think that too often people think you need to get rid of such reminders as your bracelet, as it "holds you back" and keeps you from "moving on". They fail to understand that the truth is you will never "get over it" or "move on" -- it, he, will always be a part of you. That bracelet is special to you and that is just fine.

Thanks for sharing an awesome story.

Lattany
Fairfax, VA, USA

 
At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! Awesome, awesome, awesome.

 
At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS. I just read all the posts and cracked up at how many "wows" were used! Brent, if it is okay with you, I may use this story as a devotional at my next fellowship meeting next month!!!!

 
At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Annie Cain ~Peru 04 said...

What a awesome story! So awesome to hear that God is moving!

 

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