So far Renée Bates shared her story of resting in God’s sovereignty and love in the midst of immense loss. Joshua and Lidia Noemi Aguilar shared their story of resting in God in the midst of three of their children being born with a cleft lip and more than 20 surgeries. In the final installment, Josh Gadsby shares how his entire life filled with struggles, suffering, and sin was directed by God’s sovereignty driving him to love of Jesus Christ, the final rest, while also providing a family to share that love with.
I was born in 1970 in Seattle, into drug and alcohol abuse. Oddly baptized (sprinkled) into the Episcopal Church. This was due to the formality of being the son of English immigrants who wanted his child to make a moral step into salvation.
My father and mother lasted some 10-12 months before divorcing. My first experience with my father was 15 years later and again 5 years after that. In 2005 a slow and timid start to a relationship began that exists to this day.
I was adopted after my parents’s divorce and raised in the LDS church that my mother and step father had converted to. Even as an adolescent a certain amount of confusion existed about how and why we went to church. Not in the community itself but the formality and practice of “church.”
A blue collar family in the 70’s and 80’s found life to be challenging and often full of disappointment. By my senior year in high school I had attended near 30 schools and moved some 70 individual times. The “why” of this no longer plagues me as functional strength to face change came out of this, but as a child it was devastating.
My parents divorced in my late teens over infidelity, accompanied by drug and alcohol use.
The picture of community forever changed at this point. We were shunned and became outcasts in church. I have only recently been able to reconcile this experience. As God’s will for me only came into light when he determined and only then was I able in a clear conscious to walk with him.
I took to life on my own terms at 18. Going to school at night, while I worked during the day. Jaded and angry, yet still having a greater sense that God was there, blessing my feeble steps with what I would come to know as Grace later in life.
It would be unfair to give a testimony or account without owning the destructive nature of my own choices in dealing with the hurt and pain I felt couple to the nature to make those poor choices easy.
On the outside my life may have looked good. It was a life filled with debauchery and drug and alcohol abuse. Taking what wasn’t mine to take without any thought of whom it hurt. Even today there is a gentle tug of a life lived so selfishly.
In 1998 at the age of 28 I met a young lady who started my life down a path of redemption. I came to faith a year later after witnessing the testimony of a family and their older boys being baptized. My heart was crushed with a joy I had never known and desired to experience.
We married in 2000, both getting baptized together some time later. Our marriage was rocky from the start. Even doing pre-marriage counseling with our pastor, God’s plan wasn’t what we observed and we went about our own agenda. What I mean by this is that we weren’t equally yoked in any way. We didn’t listen to the Holy Spirit cautioning us about this choice. Four years later we were divorced. A divorce from a weak foundation and fractured by infidelity.
Coming to terms with this Biblically through accountability has been a milestone. I ultimately own the condition of that marriage and her infidelity. You see, I provided a life full of extravagance but lacking in heart and headship. I was never under God’s authority in order to be in authority in my own home.
I met Christine and her two young daughters near the end of my divorce. I didn’t want children at this point. I was ultimately selfish and prideful. God relentlessly stirred me to Christine and her girls.
In a huge leap of faith, I sold my house, asked Christine to marry me, and moved to a place foreign to both of us. We were married in December 2005.
God’s plan was only beginning to come to pass for us. As we desired to have a child together, Christine had to go on fertility medication. Ultimately becoming pregnant with an inoperable ovary, God brought life to this child and to Christine’s body. Audrey was born healthy on December 1, 2006.
My heart was at the crux of a change that has never slowed but exponentially grown. Audrey brought new life into places in my heart that was void. To this day I proclaim God’s grace in Audrey to me. He saved my life through grace.
We became known and involved in our community of believers. Christine in choir and worship, I in men’s ministry and leadership. My mentor was an elder, my accountability partner a former elder and theologian. Our girls attended youth group and had mentors. I traveled abroad missionally to build relationships and schools.
We were as connected as we could be. I was growing and healing. Our marriage was growing closer, smoothing over jaded corners. We were learning how to be a family, in the body and at home. This isn’t to say that life didn’t happen. Life is a constant, where trials are daily, big and small. We have and still experience those with frequency. We deal with them differently as our faith and walk has deepened with Christ.
Our small church took on construction and entered into a new era of impacting its community in December, 2008. This was a pivotal moment as a church of 20 plus years that had existed in a school, operating as a one day a week church would have to transition into a seven day a week community of believers.
What followed has been heard and seen before. It’s always tragic and disappointing but in God’s economy has a purpose.
The founding pastor was asked to step down, dividing a portion of the body and accompanied by the youth pastor. A search and process for a new lead pastor and youth pastor proceeded. Not a smooth or easy process. It seems that even parts of the body don’t function the same way.
Moving into the building with a large financial obligation, a new lead pastor and youth pastor brought change. Internal dynamics and struggles ensued. The dynamic of what an elder led church looked and acted like churned. A necessity to shed old behaviors and come together as a team of teachers, overseers and laity soon started to fracture.
The team left was a lead pastor and two elders. Where once was three pastors and twelve elders. While this internal collapse continued, the financial crunch accelerated. The need was greater than earlier suggested and came to the light. These two huge issues ultimately killed the body. While I stood my post as a member, I met with all of the staff. Not for me, but for my family.
It had become clear that God was no longer leading our body, but that man was feebly limping along. As the shepherd of my family it’s ultimately on me to “oversee” my family’s spiritual formation and growth.
What’s really of great value--God spoke clearly to me and I responded boldly. I dug deep into the word where I was led. Prayed like I had never prayed, spoke like I didn’t have words to speak. I had come to a true and revelatory place. The impact of salvation, the scale and size of God, how small and yet loved I was, all became real. Right then, right there. While I was still and pursuing a God I hadn’t known who quenched a desire that has no end, the community of our church fell to pieces. Many to this day have no place to call home. This building became a Mars Hill campus shortly after we left bringing in a new place for those who remained.
As I settled my family into our new church home in the summer of 2011, our roles were again being redefined by God’s favor and will. I became involved in student ministry with my older girls, Christine in AWANA for our youngest. We settled into our new home, finding a season of healing and growth.
In December of 2011, at the age of 37, Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m a big man by size, at 6’1” and 215. I’ve carried the loads of life, the uniform of the US Army. Been kicked and punched and come out to this place. None of which prepared me for the potential of losing the person I loved the most. A women, whose own grace through Christ allowed her the grace to love me, a broken and fallen man. While she gave me reassurance, I had no words. The boldness had gone silent. My thoughts were of my girls and their mother. The anvil of God had once again set itself on my chest to rest.
On January 26, 2012, God extended life and a double measure of grace to Christine as she had a double mastectomy. This opportunity allowed Christine to witness to countless people. This enabled a nurturing side of me that men rarely embrace.
As healing took place Christine’s reconstruction plans were interrupted by that “still small voice.” While on hormone rejection therapy, a part of the cancer protocol, a child was conceived. Only in God’s economy can tragedy bring life. Our new concern was for this child’s health and for a full term without complications. We were encouraged on several occasions to terminate the pregnancy as the likelihood of maturation was small and the possibility for defect was high.
We simply smiled and said, “No thank you.” God wants this child, isn’t that clear? I’ve never known the peace and joy in this volume or depth before. I was reliving the miracle of Audrey’s conception and birth. The joy of Christine’s life and now a measure or grace yet again.
During the month’s that followed, Christine's company offered to relocate our family to Dallas. In light of where we had been in such a short time, it was clear God’s hand was at play and that no effort by man could align what God had so clearly done. In August Christine and the girls came to Dallas, I stayed behind to close out the house and sign over my construction company in full to my business partner. I drove to Dallas at the end of August. In 45 hours I drove from Seattle to Dallas. In time to take Audrey to her first day of school and worship with our new church community, The Village Church at Dallas Northway.
As only God can provide room to grow and stretch, our story wasn’t yet complete. Christine’s father whom had been fighting lung cancer for years ended up in the hospital critically ill. With a very pregnant wife we flew back to Seattle to spend the last 20 minutes of his life with him. On September 9, 2012 Bill Wippel went home to be with the Lord. This was a mighty blow to Christine and her family. I prayed. I prayed for Bill to be at rest in the Lords arms, that it was his time, that it was now ok. We were here. His life slowly left as if to say, thank you, I will miss you.
We returned home to Dallas and then back to Seattle for the service with our girls and an even more pregnant Christine. Time heals and reveals. It isn’t yet that time for this.
November 2, 2012, Grace Kathleen Gadsby was born. A real Texan! Now at nearly 3 months old, she is a reminder of the unquestionable good from a loving and holy God. A joy for both Christine and I each day.
December 27, 2012, Christine had her first of two reconstructive operations. The procedure was a success and she is still at home recovering. This has provides an opportunity for me to wear many hats. To mature as a nurturer and leader in my family--which isn’t possible without the Spirit of God prompting, leading, convicting each and every step of the way. Yet the joy remains, the hope grows. An anxiousness awaits what doors God’s provision will bring into our lives in the days ahead.
We are grateful for all that we’ve experienced and been stretched. We are eternally grateful for a sovereign God and the sacrifice made by his son for a life we couldn’t live and a debt we couldn’t pay.
In the days ahead I hope to continue my classes at Ligonier academy in Theology and Apologetics. To serve my family and community in the way God faithfully serves us. In God’s economy that a new career will reveal itself. Until that time, I’ƒll be here--stretching and growing.
Josh Gadsby and his wife Christine have been married for seven years. They are blessed with four girls and two eccentric cats. They have recently relocated to Dallas from Seattle in a corporate move. They are blessed to attend The Village Church at Dallas Northway where they are becoming covenant members. As a family they are enjoying God’s hand in our new culture and environment. An environment where living out our faith and impacting our community is our daily bread.