“I was preparing you for something…”

“I was preparing you for something…”

Dear Chuck,

Happy 50th birthday!  Can you believe that you are a half century old?  Where as all the time gone?  When you were born, your mom named you Charles Warren Holt because she thought it sounded presidential.  Maybe she figured it was fitting since you were born in Washington, DC.  I remember when you were a little boy.  You always wanted to help people.  Remember when you wanted to be a fireman?  You also wanted to be a pastor and you made your sisters sit at the edge of the bed while you preached to them and sang songs?  You wanted to be a mechanic and drive around and fix everyone’s car. (You didn’t realize then that I did not give you mechanical ability!)  Your mom tells of a story when you got a rocking horse as a present and your little sister was so upset that you gave it to her.  I gave you a heart for people. In these early years of your life, I was preparing you for something!

I filled your childhood with so many memories and experiences.  Some of them were good and fun.  Some were difficult.  Through every difficult memory two things always happened.  First of all, you never allowed your circumstances to determine your future.  I instilled in you that survivor instinct that has always helped you push through pain to get better not bitter.  Second of all, I have never given up on you and through every difficulty, I placed people in your life to direct you.  Whether it was your mom, your new dad, a middle school basketball coach, a high school band teacher, a camp director, or the many other “moms” and friends – I sent all these people to believe in you and push your forward when life’s trials tempted you to not believe in yourself.  During these impressionable years of transition, I was preparing you for something.

Then you went off to college.  I watched you grow in your faith in me and in the leadership and wisdom that I gifted to you.  You met your best friend, your love, and your soul mate (and all in the same person!).  I was happy to send one of my choice angels down to be your wife!  You and Claudia got married and began a life together of helping others. Whether it was being a pastor, a foster parent to 19 kids, or an adopted dad to 5 natural sibling children, you and Claudia always believed that people mattered and proved it with your actions. For 18 years you learned so much about yourself, people, about me, and the world.  All this time, I was preparing you for something.

Eleven years ago, I brought you to The Factory Youth Center.  In some ways, you were seasoned with life. In other ways, you had so much to learn.  During this time, you watched some of your own children make horrible decisions.  Only I know the tears you and Claudia have shed over your children.  Yet, you continue to love them and believe that their journeys matter.  You have also spent the past 11 years giving your time, energy, and passion to build an organization, a community, and now a system for helping folks overcome poverty.  I have given you strength, passion, and perseverance for the task. I have used your belief that everyone’s journey matters to show my love to those around you, to help others see that they have a future story of hope and life.  Throughout all the heartache and all the joy, I have been preparing you for something.

Now, on this day, July 13, 2017 you will begin your 50th year of life on this earth.  I wanted you to know that I am so glad that I created you.  I am so proud of you, that you have continued to fight for all that is good and right and fair.  As you look back, I know you have regrets, disappointments, and things you would want to change.  But I have also given you joys, successes, and wonderful gifts.  As you look forward to the next 5, 10, 20, maybe even 50 years of life, I know that you wonder what will they bring.  I want you to know that there will be more heartache, more trials, more pain. But oh, there will be so much more joy, laughter, successes, and triumphs!  Know that no matter what happens, I am there by your side. Through everything do not ever forget this one thing.  I am preparing you for something.

Someday, you will die.  Sounds morbid, I know.  But it is going to happen.  That day may come on your gradually or it may hit you suddenly.  On that day, I will welcome you with open arms. I will shout throughout the universe well done good and faithful servant.  I will call you by name, because you are mine. That day, Chuck, you will realize one important thing.  You will know how deeply I love you and how amazingly proud I am of you, and you will know this – I have prepared you for something. I have prepared you for me! 

Love, God

Kate Lab

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