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6 Drinks To A Son: A Powerful Parable

I was 18, an orphan, thrown around from house to house in the foster care system my entire life. I had been out on my own for about a year. It was 3am, I was drunk, and I was driving too fast on a curvy road right outside of Phoenix. I can’t tell you much else other than I saw headlights, heard a loud noise, felt a sensation like I was on fire, heard sirens, and the next thing I know I’m laying in a hospital bed.

Two men dressed in blue are standing by the door. I ask what’s going on. And as they begin to recount to me the events of that tragic morning, my heart begins to feel sick – terrified even – as they tell me the details. The driver of the other car was 17, not drunk, and driving home early from an all night event at his church because he wasn’t feeling too well. And he was dead. I cannot describe with words the horror that overwhelmed me in that moment – the full understanding that my stupidity, pride, and selfishness had cost someone my same age their life – his parents a son – his siblings a brother – his girlfriend a best friend. I wished I could die. But they wouldn’t let me.

The doctors pulled me through my injuries, I was tried for vehicular homicide and I was convicted. And off to the penitentiary I went. For at least 15 years. Living under the worst physical conditions of your life while simultaneously dealing with the guilt you feel for taking someone’s life is a kind of pain I can’t express with words. No visitors came for the first year, I had no family -- but sometime the following March some family I had never seen before began to visit me. They came once each week; sometimes it was just the dad, sometimes it was just the mom, and sometimes they had their 2 daughters with them. We would talk for hours about life and they would tell me all about this guy named Jesus and what he taught. They told me that there was forgiveness and that they deeply valued me even if no one else did – but they never once asked me what I had done to deserve this. I assumed they already knew, but if they didn’t I was nervous to risk losing the only people who seemed to care about me.

After my third year of being in prison, they all came in one day declaring that they had 2 pieces of good news. First, they said I was going to be released from prison in just one more year because I had exemplified model behavior for a prisoner – of course everyone knew how much sorrow I felt for what I did. And the second piece of good news is that, since they knew I did not have a family, they wanted to adopt me and take me in as their son. At the moment, the joy I felt was only tempered by the thought in the back of mind that they must know who I really am in order for me to be okay with this. So, with tears in my eyes I told them I needed to tell them what I had done, and I recounted the story of the night that my selfish actions took the life of that 17 year old boy… and as tears filled every eye, the father looked back at me and said, “we know, that boy was our son”.

God’s love is like this.

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