From outside appearances, all most people saw on social media last Easter Sunday were photos and a video of our 19-year-old son, Wendell, getting baptized on his birthday. There were hugs, smiles, tears of joy and celebration for his decision to be baptized. It was a public proclamation of a private decision to give his life to Christ.
Student Pastor Benton Cranford immersing Wendell in the baptismal waters.
There was definitely cause for celebration!
What people didn’t know was my son’s baptism, and my daughter’s baptism six years ago, was the miracle of redemption reaching back two generations.
My father was not a good man. I was only three when my mom had had enough of his adulterous behavior and divorced him. He completely abandoned his children when he moved out-of-state when I was seven, my older sister, Kim, was nine and my half-sister was three. Kim and I never saw him again, and not because I didn’t try. He passed away in 2001 having never met his children’s spouses or his grandchildren.
The sins of the father will visit the children and his children’s children (Exodus 34:6-7), not because God hates the children but because the children and grandchildren become the inheritors of the consequences of the father's sins, up to the third and fourth generations, the Bible says.
Not having your biological father in your life leaves a formidable void and feelings of abandonment that requires a deep faith in Jesus and a lot of counseling to redeem. Thankfully, my mother was a strong believer, and she guided my sister and me to a faith in Jesus that gave us the strength and courage to forgive, and to trust our lives would be different.
I have worked hard, with God’s help, to break the chains of generational sin to exemplify to my children how to have faith in Jesus and have a healthy life even when I had every right to be angry. By God’s grace, I married a strong, Christian man who loves Jesus, is dedicated to his wife and children, and is absolutely nothing like my father. Both of our children gave their lives to Jesus at the age of five.
So, I stood by a pool of cold water in the front of Grace Fellowship Church-Snellville on Easter Sunday in chilly 45-degree weather watching a young man, my son, get baptized and my heart was full. I see my son smile and how thankful he is that he made the decision to be baptized on Easter, on his birthday, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s had his own struggles in life and to see him put this much trust in his faith to be baptized is more than I could take. I starting crying. As I’m taking pictures of him being immersed in the baptismal water by his youth pastor, I can’t help but think of a picture of my dad.
Richard Buskirk Wendell Ford III
The picture was taken of my dad when he was about my son’s age. My son looks very much like he did at that age. Though, in an uncanny way, they look a lot alike, the biggest difference is that my son trusts Jesus and he is doing his best to live a life pleasing to God – something my father never understood. If that’s not redemption, I don’t know what is!
I passionately believe that God has graciously redeemed my family because my mother asked Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of her life. I followed her example and became a Jesus follower at the age of five. Throughout my life, I trusted Jesus to help me work diligently through counseling and studying the Bible to overcome my anger and fears that were birthed from my father’s actions. I married a man, also named Wendell, who has taught his son how to be a strong man for God with a gentle spirit.
I’m not sure I’m completely healed, and I may not be until I see Jesus face-to-face, but I choose not to let my father’s actions steal the fulfilling life God has intended for me, (John 10:10).
Wendell II, Jessica, Gena (me), Wendell III, and his girlfriend Kaeley (Photo credit: Steve Allen/allencreative.com)
While Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate the remembrance of Jesus rising from the dead to prove He could overcome sin and death, it was also the day that God proved to me He could redeem a family for His glory when we put our trust in Him, (Joel 2:25-27).
Thank you for sharing a great tribute to God as our Redeemer. Praise God you did not allow your past to consume you and define you! I praise God for your faithful Mother and the heritage of faith you are leaving to your children!
Love this! God is so good. His mercy endures forever.
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