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A Giant Chicken, Gnats, and Lessons On God’s Unchanging Faithfulness


“What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?”

–Psalm 8:4

It was 2009. There I sat, as cars drove by, riding a nearly seven-foot-tall chicken while my older sister, Ashton, rode a pig. Only mere moments before I held up a peanut the size of a mobile home, keeping it from crushing her, and soon I would shake hands with a gorilla. Those were only a few of the things we did when we visited my grandfather (T-pa) and my Grandma in Tifton, Georgia (or, as we called it, the Giant Figurine Capital of the World).

I was 15 years old and coming off what had been some of the hardest months of my life, but that summer God worked in my heart in such a way that I would never be the same. I experienced God’s presence at church camp and a mission trip with my youth group. Then Ashton and I took that wonderful trip full of great memories to visit Grandma and T-pa. That summer provided the greatest few months of my life, and it would help to shape the man I would become.

Ashton and I would never take another summer trip to Tifton together, as she went off to college and life went on.

A lot has changed. I am currently visiting my Grandma in Tifton and I recently turned 30. Though it feels like the blink of an eye, 15 years have passed since that summer of my youth. As I rode around Tifton, I was disappointed to see that the chicken and the pig and the gorilla and the giant peanut, which resulted in so many funny pictures, are all gone.

It’s a lot more than that though.

Only a few years after that summer, T-pa passed away and went to be with the Lord.

My sister is married now and has two wonderful young children, making trips more difficult.

My friends from the youth group and I have all gone our separate ways, and I only see a few of them nowadays. Our beloved youth minister and his family, who meant so much to each of us, were all killed in a car wreck nine years ago. Their guidance is no longer there, but their influence on my life always will be.

As for the world, 15-year-old me couldn’t have imagined what all would change over the next 15 years. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and overturned Roe v. Wade. Donald Trump, who I was probably still watching on the “Celebrity Apprentice” during that summer, became President and one of the most controversial figures in American history. Race relations deteriorated and rather than looking at each other as human beings, our nation started determining a person’s character strictly based on their skin color and ethnicity. LGB became LGBTQIA++ and the horrific mutilation of children became a reality, though it’s now euphemistically normalized as so-called gender-affirming “care.”

Yet even as so many things have changed, I realize that many things haven’t. South Georgia is still humid beyond belief, the soil is still made up of wonderful sand, and the gnats still make me want to commit a crime. Even many things about my Grandma’s house are exactly the same, like the figurines lined up along her kitchen windowsill and the magnets on her fridge.

One day, though, my Grandma won’t live in this house anymore; eventually this house may not even be standing. One day my family and I will all be gone, yet when my body is in the ground, South Georgia will still be humid, still have sand, and some other man will be swatting gnats and telling them how much he hates them. Life will go on without me or my family because we are small players in this life.

Despite this, I know that God, who will never change, even after Georgia and this earth are made new, loves us. He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for my Grandma, who still listens to praise music in her home and goes to church every Sunday. He sent His Son to die for me, once a kid who was depressed, troubled, and while claiming the name of Christ, lived the opposite. That kid was changed, somewhat gradually at first, and then in 2009, brought into the abundant life promised by Christ.

As I celebrated my 30th birthday over the weekend, I realized that 15 years, which was the sum of my entire life up to 2009, has now passed again. But God’s love for me is still the same. That will never change. As I walk the sandy soil I am humbled and I am thankful that God bothered to love me and that He has directed my life in such a way that I am afforded the opportunity to challenge the culture, to encourage Christians and conservatives, and to maybe effect some kind of change for the better.

I want to encourage each of you to take a look at the last 15 years, and then I want you to look forward and ask yourselves what you want to do to serve the Lord. How can we make this country a better place for those who come behind us? How can we glorify Him?

Primarily, I want to say to each person who has not experienced the joy that is salvation in Christ and His grace in your life to pick up a Bible, reach out to a friend or a pastor, or simply call out to God. No matter how you have lived the last 15 years of your life, God still loves you, and He can still not only save you but change you.

You won’t be perfect. Sadly, there have been many times over the last decade and a half that I have not honored the Lord, but His Holy Spirit has led me back to Him every time I’ve failed and there He always stands, ready to extend grace. God has promised to save all who believe in the name of Jesus, repenting and turning from sin, and calling on Him for salvation — and that promise will hold long after each of us is gone.

“A voice says, ‘Call out.’
Then he answered, ‘What shall I call out?’
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

–Isaiah 40:6-8

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