Posted on Leave a comment

The First Time I Met Him…

The first time I met him, he was sitting on a park bench with two social workers in my hometown. Here was a nine-year-old boy, with; what I would describe as a short “mullet” looking down on the ground talking nervously to one of the social workers who happened to be one of my childhood classmates.

I have to give you the back story, because this meeting was years in the making.

As a child born in 1957, I was the last born of four children to my parents. I always gloried in the position of being the last-born child and It’s true what they say about us.

Parents have already spent their energies on the first born, instilling all the discipline into them. They make sure every surface of the house is sterilized so if the child puts something in his mouth from the floor, it won’t harm them.  

Suffice it say, my parents spent all of their good-intentioned discipline on the first three, by the time they got to me, I was eating spaghetti off the floor with the dog…they knew it wouldn’t kill me and I credit it with never having gotten Covid. The things that live in my body would resist a space virus.

I was also the one that was allowed to do things that the first three were not.

I got to go out with friends alone at an earlier age than they had, I was allowed to wear clothing that the others had been denied, and my so-called “curfew” was often talked about, but rarely enforced. This royally pissed off my older siblings…but c’est la vie!

 Yes, we last borns really ARE BRATS, and I loved it!

HOLLA last borns!

You can imagine then that I was comfortably ensconced in my position as the last Pacheco of the family.

So, by 1995, it was a forgone conclusion that those included in our tiny tribe of six, my parents and three siblings, was now a closed community.

When you look at the genealogy of Jesus, you must wade through some pretty embarrassing relatives. In His family tree, Jesus was related to a murderer and adulterer, (King David) and Abraham, the first wife swapper (…gave his wife away twice…).

He was related to a guy who had been sold into slavery by his own brothers, (Joseph), and had a very famous harlot, ( a Ho…) by the name of Rahab who had hidden the Hebrew spies when they were doing Recon on Jericho.

Also, for all intents and purposes, Jesus was in the strictest sense of the word, Illegitimate.

Joseph was not his father…and it was a real stretch for anyone to believe that the Holy Spirit had impregnated Mary. So, he had to endure that indignity his entire life…the Pharisees called him a bastard.

In 1993…my brother Greg, who has now gone on to be with the Lord, called me and told me that I was no longer the youngest in our family. He related the fact that my father, now also gone to be with the Lord, (I got to lead him to Jesus before He died,) had fathered a child and of course not with my mother.

Let me say, how very much I love and honor my father regardless of whatever mistakes he made and although it is a dark thing, it still does not do away with the 80 years of faithful love and service he gave to everyone he knew. Many relatives didn’t know about my half-brother, or the true story because when we became his legal guardians, we took him away to Cincinnati with jus where we lived…

But of course, there are consequences to our actions…and I was about to meet my younger brother sitting on that park bench in my hometown.

The social worker informed me that the boy had been carried by a mother who drank heavily during her pregnancy, but by grace, he had only a mild case of fetal alcohol syndrome. When I first met him, I was told that his home experience was one of lice and visits from the police. At nine years old he already had a rap sheet at the local police dept for minor things, but the direction of his life was headed south.

 Here I was, the youngest of my four siblings from the 1950’s and my wife and I could just envision a newspaper headline in the future announcing that a young man in my hometown was dead due to some kind of gang activity. We talked it over with each other and the Health and Human Services people in my hometown and it was agreed by all parties that my wife and I would become his legal guardians.

It was rocky…that’s all I’m going to say about it. Trying to do the right thing in this case was a major rough spot with my natural children and our new son…the same age as our youngest son. But here is the point…

I sleep with the television on…sometimes with scripture on YouTube, sometimes on Prime with a movie playing. I like noise when I sleep…I’m a strange bird.

This morning, at around 2 a.m. I woke up to the movie, “The Blind Side” The story of Michael Oher, professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens. A homeless boy taken in by some well to do family and superbly played by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I watched it for the 30th time and cried again at 2 a.m.  right when Michael Oher at the end of the movie said, “I need a proper hug!”

My half brother grew and joined the Marine Corp. He had a hard time in school and we bumped heads a LOT! But, today, he is married to a beautiful wife, and working as a communications supervisor (His MOS in the Marine Corp.) with a company in Cincinnati.

You and I are also adopted. We were sitting in squalor and destined to be just another casualty of lost humanity, until Jesus came along. Scripture says we are “adopted” as sons and daughter of the Most High, and the Father looks upon us just like He sees Jesus…Holy and Righteous.

We have an abundant portion of the family wealth and are included in His inheritance.

Do we get that?

I don’t tell this story for any pats on the back. There were times I wish I had just turned my back on that kid and walked away. I’m no hero.

For years I hadn’t heard from him. There had been a lot of tension in our family and when he left, he was angry. For years we heard nothing. I went through a divorce and moved away.

About a year ago, after almost ten years of silence…I got a call on my cell phone.

“hey…” said the voice on the other side of the phone.

I broke into a wide grin…there was only one guy in the whole world who had that raspy voice!”

I said, “Hey man!!!!! How you doin?!!!” I was genuinely excited. All the unpleasant memories melted away, there was only gratitude that he had surfaced again. He told me about his wedding, his dogs, his lovely wife, where he lived and what he was doing. He had a good job, and a nice home.

I was thrilled! I have to say, having been separated from him for all those years, I had missed him immensely. He and I had private jokes that we would laugh at.  We of course repeated those jokes to each other and laughed our butts off over that phone call.

And then… and, I am crying as I write this, (my wife just  walked by and said, “You’re a hot mess!”) his voice got serious…and I heard him begin to choke back tears.

“I wanted to tell you…” the words came out slowly…but deliberately.

“I wanted to say, thank you for saving my life.” I had to pull over to the side of the road.  Couldn’t see any more…the tears immediately clouded my vision.

“I wanted to say, I’d be dead…and you changed my life.”  

I gotta say, I learned all about ugly crying right then. I mean…you would not have wanted to hear me. He was crying too and right there in the cab of my truck, on the side of the road, over a microwave signal in the air, my brother and I found redemption.

That’s how the Lord feels about those who are far away from Him.

Even though the angels rejoice when we come home…I think in my own little head…that the Lord pulls over to the side of the road and ugly cries too. He says, “FINALLY…my son, my daughter is home!”

As we ended the call, I didn’t want to hang up…but I heard him say,

“Man, I wish you were here so I could give you a big hug!”

I thought to myself this morning as I watched the end of The Blind Side…

”That’s right Josh….I need a proper hug.”

Leave a Reply