This morning I was reflecting on the Father of the prodigal in Luke. I'm so thankful for God's provision in Christ to know us in our mess and make us his adopted sons and daughters. Nothing motivates me towards obedience and service like being reminded of that.
Tuesday morning Eric and I left for Phoenix. We were coming to meet a man I'll call Luke. Eric met Luke at a New Year's party and soon after had lunch with him. Eric learned that he was about to be hospitalized as a part of his newly discovered battle against leukemia. During one hospital visit Eric was able to explain the love of God in Christ Jesus--the assurance that we as prodigals have through faith in his death and resurrection to be forgiven by the holy and just God of the universe. Eric watched through tears as his new friend embraced Christ in faith and began life in the newness of forgiveness and peace with his Maker.
6 weeks ago Luke was moved to Phoenix with wife and two beautiful children to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Everything went well early on in his recovery, with some recent bumps along the way. When Eric got up yesterday morning early he found that Luke's wife had sent word via email that Luke died at 2:00 a.m. that morning. Suddenly our visit to see a recovering friend turned into an opportunity to care for a dear woman who just became a widow. The whole day was terribly sad. Eric will be speaking at Luke's memorial service next week.
Yesterday we shot down from Phoenix to Tuscon in order to spend a few hours with the pastoral staff of a church there who supports our work here in part. The whole time with them was incredibly encouraging for us.
Last evening we shared the progress of our work in Las Vegas with another supporting church in a west Phoenix suburb, Buckeye. That time with old friends was good, very good.
From there Eric hooked himself up to an intravenous supply of Mountain Dew and headed back for Vegas. He will be preaching this weekend while Angie and I participate in a wedding in Florida.
Our flight out this morning was one of those 2600 American Airlines flights that got nixed. Now we get to fly out of Phoenix an hour or so before midnight on the red eye. Even though we will arrive with our eyelids hanging down to our trousers the time together will be very refreshing. I love this kind of time with my bride. I hope that my parents still love this kind of time with their grandkids after four days of focused time together! Thanks mom and dad.
Today I also was able to see my father-in-law, George, for the first time since his hospital stay after the motorcycle accident in December. It is so good to see him walking--with pain and much effort--but walking. He is incredibly dear to me and I'm very thankful that he will be able to do many of the things he loves in years to come.