“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:2

Dad, why are you different?”

This was the question my daughter asked on a family vacation to the farming community where I was raised. She noticed how different my life was from that of my siblings. Broken relationships, addiction, and poverty characterized my roots.

Why the difference? There could have been a few answers. I had some good friends growing up that were good influences. I’m the only family member that went to university. None of these came to mind. Just one word seemed to be the right answer. God.

My early years were marked by alcoholic parents — anger, physical violence and neglect. A cloud of despair moved into my life. I began to wonder if life was worth living. Through a simple question from a friend, “Have you ever invited Christ into your life?”, I began a spiritual journey that gave me an unshakable foundation to stand upon. I discovered God’s love and forgiveness.

At first I didn’t understand the question. Fortunately, they explained that God loved me and as proof of that love sent his Son to give his life as a payment for my debt of sin. No one had ever told me they loved me; now someone was telling me that God loved me! Plus I could invite God to forgive my sins, to be a constant companion. I would also receive the gift of eternal life. This was good news! That day, just like Jonah, I called for help.

That choice is what makes me different! It can make you different, too — in the best way.

God, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Thank you for the gift of eternal life. Today I invite you to work in my life and in my heart to make me different and more like you. Amen.