Tonight I took the kids out fishing to a local pond at one of the many parks near our home. The kids always get excited about fishing and it reminds me of my time growing up with my father. My dad would take us, my three siblings and myself, fishing many times throughout the year. It was during the time spent on the banks of ponds and lakes in Texas that I found an essence of peace. In my adolescence the banks became the place I would find peace with God. There I would look out at on the water and think. I guess you could say it’s where I became a thinker. At any point in life when God and I were at odds I could always go to the water spend some time fishing and listen to God tell me about his plan. Yes! I had an odd relationship with God. While he didn’t reveal everything to me, he tells me what the end goal is and fills my imaginative mind with what that could look like. It had been a while since God and I had such a relationship. Shortly after high school I walked away. I abandoned the relationship. It would be nearly eighteen years, a marriage, two kids, moving half-way across a continent, and a complete emotional breakdown to discover what I had wondered many times.
When I was younger I always heard these stories of people who became christians, surrendering everything that they had and all that they are unto God, after enduring some tragic lifestyle. A life of drugs finding God while in prison to become a missionary. Someone living a very sexual life cratered by some factor of that lifestyle to be resolved in leading people in those dark places to Christ. I was saved at the age of 7, both parents were Christians, grandparents were christians, I lived in a Christian world, and never knew of a non-Christian lifestyle. I had a solid understanding of my need for Christ and forgiveness from God, but I had no story to tell… or so I thought. I honestly felt robbed of something great in my life and actually asked a few times for God to give me a story like these people so that I had something great to tell.
After high school I began to run a life of lies. Faithful in church and able to please many religious circles, but out running with questionable crowds and getting as close to trouble as I could. People came and went, but I was constant in my lies. I was truly without God, and had shut him down and refused to listen to his voice trying to guide and teach me.
Now as I look back I see many people in the mix of crowds trying to keep this train on the rails. I can instantly call out Joe King (a very close and dear friend since 6th grade), Alan Weathers (friend that called me back into church to serve), Ben Huff (a godly roommate and dear friend), Frisco Formaggio (fraternity brother, friend, and godly encourager), and so many others. As I stood on the bank tonight God placed these men back into my life basically saying… “Hey dummy! I never left. I’ve never given up on you. Do you see your story yet?” Like everyone with a story I can honestly say, “I don’t wish this on anyone, and please avoid living out my story at all costs.” I don’t want this story. I really don’t want this story. It’s not that God gave me a story. He did not script this. It was in the absence of God I did what I did and I became what I am. No the story is that He was always there and never in hiding. Tonight I found my peace with God. Tonight I met him on his terms and yielded to his demands. It’s been a long way home and I have much work yet to begin, but he is with me now.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.