When I was 16, my parents kicked me out of the house. They had tried everything. Nothing worked. And it got to the point where my lifestyle had become so disruptive to the rest of the household, that they were left with no choice but to painfully say, “We love you but you can’t continue to live this way and live under our roof.”
A couple years after they kicked me out I was living in an apartment with a couple friends and I called my dad (after losing yet another of my many dead-end jobs–I only called him when I needed something) and said, “Rent’s due and I don’t have any money.” My dad asked, “Well, what happened to your job?” I made up some lie about cutbacks or something. He said, “Meet me at Denny’s in an hour.” I said okay. After we sat down, he signed a blank check and handed it to me, and said, “Take whatever you need. This should hold you over until you can find another job.” He didn’t probe into why I lost my job, or yell at me for doing so. He didn’t give a limit (here’s a $1000). And I absolutely took advantage! I not only remember taking that check and writing it out for much more than I needed, I remember sneaking into my mom and dad’s house on numerous occasions and stealing checks from out of his checkbook. I had mastered forging his signature. I went six months at one point without a job because I didn’t need one! Any time I needed money I would go steal another check and forge his signature –$500, $300, $700. I completely took advantage of his kindness—and he knew it!
Years later he told me that he saw all those checks being cashed, but he decided not to say anything about it at the time. It didn’t happen immediately (the fruits of grace are always in the future), but that demonstration of unconditional grace was the beginning of God doing a miraculous work in my heart and life. My dad’s literal “turning of the other cheek” gave me a picture of God’s unconditional love that I couldn’t shake.
My father died in 2010, twenty-one years after he sent his disrespectful, ungrateful son on his way. And it was his unconditional, reckless, one-way love for me at my most arrogant and worst that God used to eventually bring me back. Until the day he died, my father was my biggest cheerleader and my best friend. I miss him every day.
Steve Brown once said, “Children will run from law and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from law rarely come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws its own back home.” I ran from grace. It drew me home.
Books by Tullian: