"Sarah, that's my daughter," Barry responded. "Well, Sarah was on a road to some pretty dark places. Somehow she had changed. When she was young, she was an incredibly bright, beautiful girl, full of smiles, love, laughter, just a good kid."
Barry shifted his position and leaned back on the bleacher above the one on which he was sitting.
"But then things went bad. When she started seventh grade, she went behind some kind of cloud. She isolated herself, kept secrets from us, and hung around with some unsavory friends. They weren't real bottom dwellers, but they just had a bad influence on her. We even found small items missing from our house after they came over and money began to disappear from Connie's purse." Barry sat up, tracing his index finger over his racket strings as he chose his next words.
"Over a period of time, things kept getting worse. I'll spare you the details, but she started lying to us about everything and would get angry whenever we asked any kind of question regarding her life. Connie and I knew we were losing her. There was no talking to her about her friends. She wouldn't hear it. All she wanted to do was listen to her music - man, I hated those ear-buds, and be on the phone with her friends. There was so much more. Making a long story short, she was in deep trouble and something had to be done."
"What did you do?" Nick asked, sitting up straight as he looked piercingly at Barry.
"Well, we prayed long and hard, asking the Lord how we could get Sarah to change." A small chuckle escaped his lips. "We were pretty surprised at the answer He gave us."
Nick couldn't wait for the next words to come out of Barry's mouth.
"The Lord showed me that one day I would answer to Him for her life, because He placed Sarah under my care. I would be asked if I had done all that I could to provide a fertile place for Sarah to grow in Him." Barry looked down and twirled his racket a few times.
"That shook me up pretty good," he recalled. "I mean, I knew that God had given Sarah to Connie and me, but I guess I never thought that God was actually holding me accountable for her." Barry looked purposefully into Nick's eyes. The two men briefly stared at each other before Barry continued.
"I thought that my job was to provide a good home, keep food on the table, and give my kids what they needed to stay on top of everything. I thought that by having a big house in a great neighborhood I was doing my job. Connie was working. I had a thriving business. We had everything we needed. I thought we had made it, ya know? The Lord showed me that while I was busy working and playing so hard, I lost my daughter in the process."
Nick waited for a few seconds before he asked the question that burned in his heart.
"What did you do?"
"Well, that's why we're here," Barry answered. "God showed me that Connie and I were the ones who needed to make some changes so we could rescue Sarah. He showed me that she wasn't capable of making proper decisions at that time, and that we needed to help by creating a place of safety for her. She needed a protected place where she could rest from the things that were harming her while she was being healed. It was really important to God that we did what was necessary to bring her around, so that she could grow up strong and straight, spiritually sound in Him."
Nick became really interested now, and moved onto the bench, seating himself next to Barry.
Barry continued. "Connie and I prayed together quite a bit, but I knew that because I functioned in the offices of husband and father - something very important God gives to men - I was responsible to Him. I would answer to Him for Sarah's life. He showed me that I was incapable of helping Him to reproduce the life of Jesus in Sarah, because I had been distracted by my own needs and wants. I wanted the successful business. I wanted the big house, the new car, money. I never even gave much thought to the fact that Sarah was on her way to throwing her life away and then burning in hell for eternity because I was too busy with my own life to stop her. That really scared me. It scared Connie, too, when I told her."
"So, what did God tell you to do?" Nick asked with great anticipation.
"Well, things became pretty clear after a while. The stuff that we treasured for so long became pretty useless to us once we surrendered everything to Him, especially in light of Sarah's need. We looked around, and then looked at Sarah and her pain, and the path was pretty well laid out for us since we were going to answer to God for her life."
Barry got up to stretch, then sat down again. Nick didn't move. He couldn't wait to hear what steps Barry and Connie took.
"Within a matter of a few months, I sold my business, Connie quit her job, we sold our house, and moved here. I took a job which allowed me to spend time with my family. We bought a much smaller house, traded in our cars for really good used ones; and now Connie home schools Sarah."
Nick was dumbfounded. His mouth dropped open and he just stared at Barry. "You must be kidding," was all he could muster as his mind reeled.
"No, we got Sarah back," Barry said with a smile. "She hated us for a little while. We had to build some pretty strong "love fences" around her in the beginning -move her away from bad influences, take away her headset so she'd start to communicate, monitor her computer and phone time, you know, stuff like that, all the time praying real hard for her. It was pretty much touch and go at first, but we got her back. Now we live in a family fortress of love and compassion designed by God-one that the world can't touch. We laugh, love, communicate, and have a great relationship. She's in tune with the Lord and wants to reach out to kids her own age. She's really happy again and our times together as a family are special no matter what we do."
(Taken from the book, The Father Factor, by Jim and Merry Corbett)
Rarely do we consider the daily routines of our lifestyles as a series of habits and demands that hinder the power of the Lord to move freely in our lives. What are you willing to do to have God move on behalf of someone you love?
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