Son's Life Sets Example for His Father
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“I thrived on showing how successful I could be,” says Andrew Sobel. “I was very successful at my company. I was successful when I started my own consulting firm. I wanted people to look at me and like me and feel I was successful.”
It seemed Andrew Sobel succeeded at everything he did. After climbing to the top of a large global consulting firm, he started his own company, then began a successful writing career. “My first book was very successful, Clients for Life. It sold all over the world.”
It was no surprise Andrew did so well. After all, it was expected, because both his parents were educated and successful. They were also atheist and taught him the most important thing in life was to be a success. “That meant that I would get people’s approval; that I’d get my family’s approval.”
Andrew and his wife, Mary Jane, set very high standards for their children as well. But their son, Chris, who enlisted in the Air Force, went against the grain and started living on the wild side.
Andrew explains, “He was struggling and it was very hard for us, because when your children become adults, you don’t control them. You’re powerless over them, really. And we struggled because we really didn’t know how to help him.”
Then at one point, Andrew noticed Chris had changed. He stopped partying and carrying on with women. Later, he found out his son had become a Christian – despite being raised with no mention of God.
Andrew explains, “Chris came to faith in Jesus because a friend of his gave him a Bible and he read one of the Gospels, I think the Gospel of Luke. Literally, in a matter of weeks he went from being atheist - he was raised with no faith - to really putting his life in the hands of Jesus,”
Andrew couldn’t understand who would need that. “I honestly never came into contact with people who were real followers of Jesus, and I had never read the Bible. No one in 55 years actually said to me, ‘You ought to think about this. You ought to consider this,’or ‘Try reading this.’ No one ever did. And it was only when I saw Chris, our son, who’s life had been very turned around reading the Bible, I thought to myself, ‘Well, maybe I ought to look at it.’”
Andrew bought a Bible. But he hid it from his wife and secretly began reading the Gospel of Matthew. This man, Jesus, intrigued him. “Incredible Person this was who practiced radical generosity, radical forgiveness, radical sacrifice, radical humility, I really had never read about anyone quite like this is my life.”
Andrew told his son that he’d been reading the Bible. At the time Chris was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. Before he left, he encouraged his dad to read the Gospel of John. Andrew says, “I came to the point in John where Jesus has the Passover Supper with His disciples and He knows He’s going to die in a few days, be crucified, and He washes their feet. I read that and I was stopped dead in my tracks. I knew no ordinary human could do that. I’d never in my life met someone like that; who would be such a servant leader, who would literally wash the feet of their followers.”
The more he read, the more he understood that something was missing from his life. “Deep, deep, down,I never really felt truly accepted, even loved.”
One night Andrew realized what he’d been seeking all his life. And it had nothing to do with success. “As I drifted off to sleep a word popped into my head and that word was acceptance. It filled my head, “acceptance” and I suddenly understood why I was reading the Gospels. And I realized that He was the only Person who had truly, completely and totally accepted me. He didn’t care about all the status things. He didn’t care what kind of car I drove. He didn’t care about how many books I sold. He didn’t care how much money I made. He didn’t care if my kids were successful or not in terms of my worth as a person and His love, God’s love for me. None of that was important.”
Like his son, Chris, Andrew put his life in the hands of Jesus. So did his wife Mary Jane, who’d been on her own journey. They soon found a church down the street from their Manhattan apartment. Andrew was so changed by God’s love and acceptance that he took his writing in another direction. “I began planning my most recent book, Power Questions, as I was coming to faith in Jesus, and reading about Jesus. And I realized, reading the Gospels, Jesus was a master at asking questions.”
Power Questions has become Andrew’s most successful book. It includes a chapter on Jesus’ greatest question, “Who do you say I am?”
“One of the biggest realizations that I’ve had from reading about Jesus, and reading the Gospels, comes from John and Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well,” explains Andrew. “And what He’s saying, I think, is if you try to get your meaning in life, your deepest significance from things of this world; from your job, from career, making lots of money, from having perfect children, or having the perfect marriage, power, sex, what ever it is, you will die of thirst. And now I realize that the pursuit of those things - it’s okay but if that is your whole meaning in life, you die of thirst. And I really do think that through God, through Jesus, there’s Living Water that is that perpetual satisfaction.”
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