Monday, July 28, 2008

Washington, DC, and the providence of God

Last Wednesday, my family and I returned from five days spent in Washington, DC—our first visit to this important and historic city. We had a wonderful time! There is so much to see and do, and we did not have nearly enough time, but we enjoyed everything we were able to experience.

In the span of those five days we walked to The White House and Washington Monument; visited the Lincoln, Jefferson and Franklin Roosevelt Memorials; saw the World War II, Vietnam and Korean War Memorials; visited Arlington National Cemetery and the graves of John, Jacqueline and Robert Kennedy, the Tomb of the Unknowns (and saw the changing of the guards), and the Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima Memorial); we also went into the Capitol, the Supreme Court Building and the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter and Paul (the Washington National Cathedral). Finally, we also made a quick visit to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Whew!

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

Ethan looking serious in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial.

The Washington National Cathedral—an immense and grand structure, and the 6th largest cathedral in the world.

The following Sunday, we had the privilege of worshipping with the good people of Hillcrest Baptist Church of Temple Hills, Maryland, where Eric C. Redmond is the pastor.

Hillcrest Baptist Church (I copied this photo off the web)

After worship we had the opportunity to meet and talk with Pastor Redmond. I also had the delightful surprise of running into Michael Mewborn of Reformed Blacks of America who, with his family, is a part of Hillcrest Church. That Sunday also happened to be my 45th birthday and the following Monday my 18th wedding anniversary!

On my birthday, outside the National Aquarium in Baltimore: Ethan, Evan, Catherine, Mary (Carl’s friend), Carl and me.

Still going strong after 18 years!

So, you can see our trip was, indeed, eventful. However, that wasn’t all for, by far, the highlight of our trip was meeting, for the first time in person, my biological father, Carl Wilson! This was intentional. You see, I met Carl over the phone only three years ago (that’s another, long story). We have talked and corresponded ever since, hoping one day to have the opportunity to meet. This trip was our opportunity.

Some background: Like my mother, Barbara, my father, Carl, was also a teenager when I was conceived. As you can imagine, the news of my mother being pregnant was rather traumatic. My family had never met Carl, so it came about one day that he was invited over to my grandparents’ house to meet my family. Unfortunately, when my father arrived, my grandmother, in what must have been a fit of rage, pulled a knife on him and, literally, tried to kill him. Fortunately, my grandfather intervened, grabbed his wife and held her, while Carl ran for his life. Understandably, Carl stayed away from my family after that (The irony is he would have received an understanding, compassionate reception from anyone else in my family, had he a chance to meet any of them. Unfortunately, he never got that opportunity). Ultimately, Carl moved to Washington, DC, where he has lived for the past 40 years.

Last week, thinking about my life history, and about the spiritual state of my biological parents and my now-deceased maternal grandparents, I was reminded, once again, of the providence of God. God, working behind the scenes, sovereignly guides all things—including the minute details of our lives—towards His appointed end, to accomplish His appointed purpose. From the perspective of 45 years of life, I clearly see God’s hand of providence in my life from before my conception until now. Without removing me from my immediate blood family, God so arranged circumstances that I was placed in the one home in my family where I would be exposed to the gospel and nurtured in a Christ-ward direction: with my great-grandparents. So, even though I was an “illegitimate” child, born out of wedlock, I still grew up in a two-parent household, had a “father”—my great-grandfather, “Pa Bill”—and a “stay-at-home mom”—my great-grandmother, “Grandma”, was well-provided for and given the opportunity to go to college and finish…and, on top of that, I was exposed to the gospel! What more could I have asked for? God worked through bad circumstances to bring about good.

Why has God seen fit to bring Carl into my life after all these years? Perhaps God has a gospel purpose in mind. I don’t know, but it’s both comforting and encouraging to be reminded that my life is still in God’s hands, and God can be trusted.

“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand…” (Psalm 31:14-15a).

I’m also reminded that our sin does not have to be the end of the story. Our sin cannot thwart the sovereign purpose of God. You and I should be glad about that! God’s plan is not derailed because of our sin and rebellion and disobedience. Our God is sovereign, even over our sinful choices, and He is more than able to work out His purpose in spite of us.

If you, like me, have sinned and messed up, first of all, you need to repent, turn to Christ Jesus as Lord, and receive the forgiveness He purchased with His blood on the cross. Then, be encouraged to know that your sin is not the end of the story. God has a plan, and His plans have never been thwarted. He has the power to bring good out of bad, to the praise of His glorious grace.

1 comment:

Stan Livengood said...

Hey Wyeth, beautiful pics, and a very interesting story about meeting your biological dad for the first time. Were you nervous? He's a nice-looking man.

Since you made a quick trip to Baltimore (near my old stomping grounds where I had my first full-time job), I wish you had gone to Ft. McHenry, a very interesting, historical site. But the Inner Harbor is awesome too. I like the aquarium. Probably has changed since I haven't seen it in 20 years. So much to see in that area!

Say hi to Catherine and the boys. Congrats on 18 years together!