Thanks Mom and Dad for Saying Yes

25 12 2011

Uncovering a portion of my family history over the last few days makes this Christmas all the more meaningful to me. I was re-reading my parent’s account of how they grew up, met and married, and moved to Chicago, Nigeria, and Turlock. Now that I live in the Seattle area, my interest has been piqued because of the number of significant events took place for my mom and dad here in this area.

Of particular interest was their description of a summer family camp they attended at a place called Covenant Beach. I had heard the story before. My parents had met at a church Valentine party at the top of Smith Tower in Seattle. Both were veterans of the great war, and the times were impulsive. Love struck and within six weeks they were engaged. A short time later, they were asked to escort a man named Glen Wagner to Vashon Island where he was speaking on the great post-war need for missionaries in Japan. By June, they were at the family camp at Covenant Beach and heard a message on Luke 9:23 where Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

My mother wrote about that evening, saying that all had left the meeting room except my dad. She didn’t know what was going on with him as he lingered behind. In his own words, “The speaker dismissed the meeting without an invitation and the need [of Japan] flashed into my mind, and I just crumpled to the floor.” God has been speaking into his heart, “Go to Japan! Go to Japan!” My mother came back to him and asked what was wrong, to which he replied, “We’ve got to go to Japan.” Mom said, “Okay,” surrendering her college plans to God’s will.

I began to wonder if Covenant Beach, the place that God had used to redirect my parents’ lives so dramatically, still existed. I had not heard of it since moving to Seattle six years ago. So I searched the internet and found that it not only exists but is located just a few miles north of my home. The city of Des Moines is renovating the site as a city park.

The dining hall at what was then Covenant Beach. My parents would have spent many meals and times of interaction in this building. The city has raised it four feet because the river that runs under it flooded last year.

This aspect of my parent’s story comes to me especially on this Christmas morning. They redirected the course of their lives because of the challenge from Jesus to follow Him in self-denial. That is the essence of the birth of the Savior–the Son of God laying aside His rights and glory to serve us. My parents went on to minister in Japan with the Pocket Testament League, during which time my older brother Jack and I were born. Later, with younger siblings Rich and Diane, we all went to Nigeria. These experiences shaped all of us for good.

When I visited the former Covenant Beach, I paused to thank God for what He had done there. Though I was not yet born, He had my future in mind. God help me to take up my cross today, and follow You.