The God of Generations
Trusting in the Slow Work of God
Stories by Jude, Roxy, and Chris
Jude and John (left) with Chris (far right) in Westlake in 1993
I moved into the Westlake neighborhood in Los Angeles to join a team living in the Cambria apartments in 1989. I imagined it would be for a few years...that was 25 years ago. Looking forward then, I could not have imagined the richness of life and the fullness of joy that would fill those years. Much of that joy has come through the enduring relationship between Chris and Roxy and my husband John and I.
When I first met Roxy in 1989, she was growing up in one of LAâ€™s most challenging neighborhoods. Life was hard and the future looked bleak. I walked with Roxy through many years of struggle and uncertainty, wondering what the future would hold for her. Now, these many years later, she lives what we then dreamed â€“ as a middle school teacher in one of the tougher places in Los Angeles, hoping to make a difference in the lives of youth who are struggling as she once was. Neither of us imagined then that the bonds of relationship (as mentor, big sister, surrogate mom) would continue to strengthen over more than two decades. We could not have imagined that all these years later, we would be family to each other, that her children would call me Oma (grandma), and that one of my greatest joys would be spending time with her children, my grandchildren.
Roxy and Jude
"Now, these many years later,
she lives what we then dreamed"
When Chris and I first met in 1992, he was writing on walls as a way to find relief from the unending pain in his life. â€œWriting was my aspirin." At the time, I did not think Chris would live very long -- many of his peers were being killed on the streets. Life seemed fragile and definitely vulnerable. I did not imagine then that Chris and Roxy would be married 15 years, and be the parents of two beautiful boys, their family a beacon of hope to many others who are still struggling.
Jude and Chris
"I did not imagine then that Chris and Roxy
would be married 15 years, and be the parents
of two beautiful boys, their family a beacon of hope
to many others who are still struggling."
Today as I reflect back at the long slow journey of faith and forgiveness, sorrow and joy, grace and mercy, it all seems so worth it. But two decades ago it felt risky, the entering of a great unknown, giving my heart with no guarantees. A bullet or betrayal could end this fragile space we shared. I took comfort in Mary the mother of Jesus, who pondered and guarded many things in her heart.
When I asked God why it was all taking so long, I was directed toward the Old Testament and Godâ€™s dealing with his people over many generations. I was reminded that although our society loves six month plans and two year plans, our God is a God of generations. The slow work of God.
In the midst of the slow work of God, there will be moments that surprise us, encourage us, even take our breath away -- light breaking through the darkness, as God heals and restores the generations. A slow work, yes, but punctuated with some amazing moments. I have come to appreciate the beauty of the slow work of God through the generations.
For me, my healing process has needed longevity. I found pure unconditional love and discovered the healing power of true friendship. My trust had been broken so often it was difficult to trust again. It's taken time, but I have learned how to trust. I have also learned to be patient, first with myself. Jude and John modeled patience. Now I have to put it into practice. I want to speed it up, to save others the pain and tears I went through. But that is what produced the growth in me. There is no short cut.
We want to reach our goals our way but God might have different goals for us. God often wants to mold us through the process. If we are faithful to God, we will see God working in our lives and in the lives of those we love. It happens in Godâ€™s time not in our time. But it will happen. God is faithful. We have to remain faithful. The Lord will heal those we love. Give it to God, God will do it in his time.
Longevity is about faithfulness. Now I understand we can trust in Godâ€™s faithfulness. Back then I could not trust or understand Godâ€™s love or faithfulness. My trust had been betrayed so often. I learned faithfulness from Jude, and later John. Now I know that God is faithful to the generations and this is important for me with my children.
Many times I have wanted to give up. There has been so much pain and struggle in my life. But I keep on going because I see the results in my children. I never knew I was loved. My boys know love. Sometimes it makes me sad, to realize how abused I was at their age. But then I am encouraged by the healing that has happened, and that my boys wonâ€™t have to suffer like I did. I see Godâ€™s faithfulness in their lives. I now know that we are blessed to be a blessing like Abraham -- I want my family to be a blessing to others, to the generations.
Roxy and Chris with their two sons, Lance and Immanuel
Jude Tiersma Watson is grateful for many years of joyful living in Los Angeles. She has been around long enough to now be an elder with InnerCHANGE.