The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
and a little child shall lead them. – Isaiah 11:6 (mev)
“Are you the son?” Each nurse and medical professional asked me that question when they walked into hospital room 4407. It wasn’t a bad question. It was just an awkward question. Sometime on New Year’s Eve going into January 1, 2017, my biological mother had a massive stroke at her nursing home in Noblesville, IN. I was leaving a stage in Concord, NC at the same time she was essentially leaving her awareness of this earth. My mother, Sue Mills, gave me up for adoption when I was just three years old. I flew to Indianapolis on Monday, January 9. I put this picture on social media of her hand in mine with a post which kind of summarized my situation:
These are the hands that held me first. My birth mother, Sue Mills. She had a massive stroke Saturday night into Sunday morning at her nursing home. The last four days I have been beside her Indianapolis bed waiting with the Hospice staff, her nephew/guardian Rick, and a few other cousins. I owe her a huge debt for not terminating her pregnancy all those years ago. I know it was a difficult decision for this single mother to give me up for adoption when I was three. I honor her in that way today with a grateful heart. She is 74 and she has prayed to the Lord asking Him to forgive her sins. In the confidence and comfort of promised eternal life we wait, watch, and pray. It will be difficult to fly to Ft. Myers in the morning to perform a comedy show tomorrow night. I will be back soon – as the Lord wills – to honor her life and to honor the name of Jesus.
I heard a comedian talk about community college students answering the question, “What school are you in?” “Well I’m studying at the community college for two years and then I am going to get an associate degree before I transfer to the University…”. In other words, sometimes it isn’t an easy question to give a short answer to. “Are you her son?” “By biology, yes. But legally, with a judge’s signature in 1967, she became my aunt and my aunt became …” Complicated. It was a tough week emotionally. I know it was tougher for precious Sue. Many people reading this have been through the gut-wrenching final hours with close relatives and understand first hand.
I flew out of Indianapolis Friday in the attempt to make four hundred people in Fort Myers, FL laugh for fifty minutes. Pastor Nate Goss picked me up, along with his wife Lee. They brought two of their five kids, Grace and Andy. It was too early to check into the hotel so we went to their house to kill some time. When I walked in, four-year-old Andy gave me a super hero costume.
He made it seem like that was the custom of the house. Some families require people to take off their shoes at the door. Andy, who is also adopted (three adopted Goss kids and one foster baby), required guest comedians to don super hero capes. Andy then gave me eight different toys and showed me where the secret buttons were that produced sound. This fifty-two-year-old hadn’t played with toys like that in well over a decade. We must have played for fifteen minutes or so.
Pastor Nate took me to the hotel to change for the comedy event. One hour later he arrived with the whole family – all five kids – to take me to the 7 pm stage. I opened the car’s back hatch to put my product case in and a little head popped up to look over the seat. Four-year-old Andy looked straight into my eyes and said as sincerely as anyone has ever spoken to me, “I missed you Joe.”
He said it with passion and emphasis. We had just met and had only parted company an hour earlier. That little phrase may not mean one thing on earth to you and it may not seem blog-worthy. However, I was stunned by it. Normally a comedy stage makes me a little nervous and preoccupied. His little words stopped me dead and landed right into my heart. Somehow they actually ministered to me. I said, “Thank you Andy. That is a very nice thing to say.”
When we got to the beautiful Southwest Florida church we parked far away from the door and began to walk to it. I felt a little hand grip mine and it didn’t let go until we got inside. The little kid destroyed me and I am not sure why. Perhaps because I was adopted when I was just a bit younger than little Andy and the fact that he was adopted too got to me. Maybe it was because I felt like I had been gut-punched all week. I had been feeling out of sorts and wobbly – like trying to walk down an airplane aisle during severe turbulence. When that little hand went into mine, it was as if God was saying to me, “Everything is ok.” God knows where we live and what we need. When my new little friend wrinkled his eyebrows and passionately declared, “I missed you Joe,” God was using four-year-old Andy.
Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:4 (kjv)