Please read through this scenario to help you prepare for this weekend’s message. You might want to read it as a family. You’ll find a few questions at the end to use for reflection and conversation.
Zach grew up in a broken home. His dad and his mom fought a lot. Zach’s dad slowly began to check out until one day, he left—for good. He came to an occasional ball game and sent birthday cards with a check inside. But he never really made an emotional investment in his son. Zach never fully felt loved, accepted, or valued.
He tried to find those things in all the wrong places as he grew up. He worked hard to impress his coaches, his teachers, and, of course, the girls.
When he graduated from high school, he went o to an in-state college. He was committed to working and paying his way through school.
But two months after he arrived at the university, one of his high school girlfriends called to let him know that she was pregnant. He came home that very weekend and pressured her to have an abortion saying that they just didn’t have the maturity or the money to take care of a child. Plus, their whole lives were ahead of them.
Back on the campus, the guilt of what he had done began to drag him down into a depression. He started missing class. He started drinking every night. He hit on every girl who would give him even the slightest bit of interest. His grades plummeted. He didn’t even go back for his second semester. Having gone back to his hometown, he held a series of jobs—none with any real future. His drinking grew worse. Once, he was arrested for disorderly conduct after a bar fight. He started experimenting with drugs. He had a series of one-night stands. His life was a mess.
He met a girl that he liked. Megan. She was the most beautiful, kind, and sweet girl he’d ever met. She was a follower of Jesus. So, she politely told him that she really couldn’t date him because he wasn’t committed to Christ.
Zach remembered a coach in high school who also talked a lot about Jesus. He met the coach for breakfast. The coach told him why Megan could not even entertain the idea of having a relationship with Zach.
Then the coach asked, “So, how are things going?” And Zach began to talk about all that was broken in his life. That’s when the coach shared about the grace of God offered through Jesus. Zach learned that Christ loved him so much that He died on the cross to forgive him for the abortion, the bad grades, the wasted time, the partying, the one-night stands, the fights, the drunkenness, the drug use, and the bitterness and anger. Zach learned that Jesus would give him the acceptance, the love, and the sense of worth that he had been looking for all his life.
The coach gave Zach a Bible and told him to read the gospel of John. One night, alone in his room, Zach picked up the Bible and began to read. He came to John 3 where Jesus said, “You must be born again.” He wondered, “What does this mean?” He called his coach. On the phone, the coach led Zach to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Zach immediately felt a grace and a love and a freedom like he’d never felt his whole life.
Zach started attending church. Of course, he went to the church that the beautiful, kind, and sweet young woman attended. Megan kept her distance for a while, waiting to see if this commitment to Christ was real. It was. Zach was baptized, helped out in the children’s ministry, rarely missed a service, and went on several mission trips. He was hungry to grow spiritually. After about a year, the girl said “yes” to a date. In another year’s time, they were engaged. Six months later, they were married.
Children came a few years later. Two boys and a girl. Zach was committed to not being an absentee father like his dad was. He was also committed to making sure that his children didn’t make the same mistakes that he had made. He wanted to keep them safe from partying, drinking, drugging, fighting, and premarital sex. So, family rules were established. Any violation was quickly punished—followed, of course, by an embrace and an “I-love-you.” Missing church was not an option. Family devotions were routine. Volunteering was a must. Memorizing the family rules and key Bible verses were a focus. When the kids grew older, a strict curfew was enforced.
At first, Megan loved all of this. All Zach could think about was how to make family life better. But Zach wasn’t really happy. Zach’s voice would rise when the kids misbehaved. His anger too often raged. The kids began to act out. Megan spent many lonely nights staring at the ceiling, listening to Zach’s quiet snore, and wondering, “Why does serving Jesus have to be so hard? What happened to my sweet family? Where are my kids going to end up? How can I get my husband back?”
- What happened to Zach?
- Why is he angry?
- How did this family get where they are?
- How do you think these kids end up?
- How can things be changed for the better?