You're closest to God when you're at your weakest. Terry Freeborn
We were so blessed to have had 13 men present at Ox Strong this past Saturday…many others viewed the livestream / YouTube recording of it as well. Terry did a fantastic job navigating us through the journey the Lord’s been taking him through his entire life. Below are the follow-up notes I put together for you if you didn’t have time to view his challenge on-line. Enjoy!
Terry Freeborn was born in Rockford, Illinois, but has lived in Grinnell for seventy plus years. His class was one of the first to be in the new Grinnell High School and he graduated in 1962. When he got married he didn’t attend church. It wasn’t until they had children until they began attending church regularly. It all started with a nudge from their oldest and middle son’s encouraging them to get back into church. God began to show him how he needed to correctly view life as a whole as a grandfather and father. He’d spent too much time catering to self, and needed God to shift his focus for him. As he and his wife began attending church, Terry began to see spiritual growth, growth in a church family, and his wife Judy was pleased with how everything was going.
They were attending First Baptist Church here in town and he became very close friends with their pastor. Once their pastor had left, then Terry and Judy began the search for a new church to attend. First impressions were very important to them. How did the regulars make them feel when they visited their church? Some churches seemed like the right fit, but they didn’t want to feel lost in the numerical growth of a large church. God led them to PLC where it’s been a perfect family fit for them. They’re in-line with their beliefs and practices. They feel as though they can openly share their hearts and do life with other transparent attendees. They enjoy the messages and it’s easy to block out all else in this world as they listen to what God’s relaying to them through His messengers…just allowing God’s word to be absorbed into every aspect of their lives.
Church family has been so important to them. Knowing that someone cares about your pains and losses means a lot. Knowing they’re praying for you is priceless. Terry and Judy’s oldest son died at age 54, leaving behind a wife and eight children. They were all devastated and overwhelmed with grief. Terry learned to lean on the Lord and continue to have faith even in tough times. His church family was there for him when he needed them most. The day after they received the call that their son had passed away, Terry and his wife decided to attend church…just like their son would have wanted them to. They could feel the prayers from their church family.
In 2013 Terry began having heart issues as well (he’s had many family members with varying heart conditions). In 2018 Terry ended up having open heart surgery. Between 2013 and 2018 his wife would constantly worry about him and his heart. And Terry too was concerned about his own life. This was a humbling surgery for him. They would have to shut his heart off and jump start it. He felt helpless, but came to discover that he’s the closest to God when he’s at his weakest. He was so thankful for friends that came out of the woodwork. What would we do without hope? Without church family? Without the Lord? Who would we have to lean into and on?
Post-surgery had many challenges of its own. Rehab wasn’t easy. He didn’t have much appetite. His wellness instructor sold him some weight training equipment and also took the time to show him how to properly use it. Time in rehab provided lots of time to think. He’d think about his walk with the Lord. He’d think about what the Lord’s done for him, and how He’s got him through. He truly believes that God was and is at his every beckon call…he just needed to slow down and listen. Realizing it or not, he was growing in the Lord. When assistance or a crutch is there to lean on, then take hold of it…life will get better. God’s got you. He’s always present. Pray to Him. Read about Him in His word. Attend a solid Bible-believing church. Reach out to Him in your time of need. It doesn’t pay off when you go your own way in life. That’s when turmoil strikes quickest and hardest. Good alert systems in place are irreplaceable when trying to get back on His path.
Just when Terry thought he needed to be his family’s protector and provider, he realized that God is far better at it than he’ll ever be. Keep looking back and recognizing/seeing/remembering all that God’s been doing in developing your unique story. Be thankful for those subtle reminders that God sends your way to get you back in Church and to begin growing closer to Him once again. Remain Humble and Keep Looking Up.
Practicing His Presence,
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 2 granddaughters, a police chaplain, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter