Patience for his Perfect Work


August 12, 2010

The night my son was born was one of the greatest moments of my life. When he was put in my arms I could immediately sense that somehow this child was special. I know every parent thinks that, but there was just something about him. He was the first boy to be born in my family in 41 years; that boy, my brother, had died in 1965, so now there was only my 81 year old father and this new little life. My father had had strokes and couldn’t speak well, but there was no disguising how pleased he was. My son showed so much promise, especially in art, where he actually started out as a prodigy. I tried to give him extra exposure to art, and opportunities to explore music and sports as well. We saw a bright future ahead.

This morning one of the worst moments of my life took place as I watched my beloved 19 year old son plead nolo contendere to the felony of dealing marijuana. I listened as he addressed the judge clearly and politely; I listened as she explained the rights that were being taken away. It stung me as she told him that the most basic right of a citizen, the right to vote, would be refused him for five years.

He got the best sentence possible under the circumstances. He was being sent to drug rehab for six months to a year instead of being exposed to the harsh and dangerous environment in our state prison. It was the outcome we had all been praying for. But my son has already started detox and rehab two weeks ago. It’s been tough for him, and he has missed home terribly. He had hoped against hope that he would only be there for three months, at most six. When the sentencing finally came, he began to close up like a turtle resolutely drawing into his shell. My son wouldn’t talk to us and wouldn’t look at us. It brought my ex-husband to tears. I felt like crying, too, but I knew I had also won a years-long battle to get my boy the help he needed, painful though it was. My son was addicted to much more dangerous drugs than the marijuana. I had finally done the only thing I could do to get him help and hopefully make it end.

I finally had my cry at the end of the day while I thought of the beautiful baby I had 19 years ago and the young man who had to stand guilty before the court this morning. How it hurt to see him punished and to know he desperately needs the correction and discipline the rehab house will give him. I wondered if God “weeps”, or the spiritual equivalent, when we disobey and must receive harsh consequences. Do my actions hurt the heart of God the way my son’s actions hurt mine? It makes me think a lot differently about my own disobedience.

I was thinking tonight about a verse I must have learned decades ago because the way I recalled it was in the King James Version, which I haven’t used in a long time. This is the New King James Version of the verse:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2 -4

Patience has its perfect work to do. Patience (or perseverance in the NIV) was the quality I need to call upon in the months ahead. Even though my son doesn’t trust in Jesus, he is going to have to learn patience, too. He needs patience with the situation he’s in and the rehab where he must stay. He needs patience with himself to face the feelings that led him to use street drugs and prescription drugs to feel better. And many of us are hoping and praying that someday he will have patience because he recognizes that it is the Lord who is bringing healing to his life.

Tomorrow is a new day to pray for my son. Tomorrow is also a new day for me to count my trials “all joy” and be patient while God works patience in me.

Postscript: It is now the end of August and Jon is beginning to enjoy the feeling of being drug free. He is starting to gain perspective and it’s wonderful to see the “real” Jon unmasked by the drugs. It’s a real encouragement to see him start down the right road.

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