I sincerely thank you for taking the opportunity to read about my faith journey. This tells my journey of developing a deeply committed relationship with our Father in Heaven. I have come from 28 years of living out a “me-focused” life, to living in God for the world — living for an eternal purpose! As I’ve thought about this journey and the task of writing about it, I have hesitated to do so as it has felt too much like a form of self-promotion. After praying for guidance, I gave my worries about what to say and how to say it over to Jesus. I realized through trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, these words are the truth. These words tell a story of our loving Father, Abba – our redeemer!
I spent the first 28 years of my life floating from thing to thing, floating from one new found source of “hope” to the next, from one source of self-efficacy to the next. In the depths of my heart I was searching the world for answers to my questions. What is love? What is faith? Why can’t I forgive myself for past mistakes? Why can’t I forgive others? Isn’t there more to life than this –what I see, what I do, what I own? Why do I feel so alone – so small, so isolated in this gigantic world?
What still amazes me is that I can look back to so many times in my life and see God’s steady hand, His hand on my life, His hand in control. The fact is that I did not grow up talking about God, I had not opened the door to Him over the course of my life. I didn’t talk about Jesus Christ or about the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Beyond the age of 10, I stepped into church only a handful of times and can’t remember a single time that I had opened the Bible. I grew up finding meaning in my talents, athletic abilities, the company I kept, my white-washed exterior.
My wife, Jamie, and I were married in 2007 after having been together for over eight years. We went to high school together, to college in North Carolina and now found ourselves out in the real world together. I quickly found my way into a really good job. After a few years, I was traveling weekly for my job and allowing work to be my life’s focus. Along with that came an ever increasing confidence in myself (look at what I’ve done!). At the surface I had found meaning, a meaning I believed would carry me through my days. I became so invincible that I decided I wanted to pursue the world, “really live”. I needed a nicer house, nicer clothes, more money and all of the riches I “deserved” – after all, I had earned it! I was on what some call the hedonic treadmill. I needed nicer, better, quicker etc… in every area of my life. I was stepping from thing to thing, setting benchmarks based on those shallow achievements. I was a selfish shell of a husband, son and friend. Well you probably already know where that chapter of my life ended. I was walking down a broken road to death. As God does for so many of us, He rescued me. In June of 2010 I turned around. I retreated towards true repentance, towards the light. I made a commitment to be a dedicated, loving husband, family member — I wanted to be a person that went deeper in life, beneath the surface of what the world offers through cars, clothes, surface friendships, and money.
Meanwhile, during the time I was off in the world “living”, my wife Jamie had strengthened her faith by attending Church of the Resurrection here in Overland Park, KS. I reluctantly decided to walk through the doors with her (I was kicking and screaming inside as I did it – no lie!) and I can honestly say my life will never be the same. For the first few months it was tough. I would sit in church each Sunday and track the time. At a point I began to wonder what it would feel like to live my life as a Christian – to actually apply all of this Jesus stuff that we were talking about. I felt God calling me to see that there was more than just being a “very religious person” or another herded church-goer. There was a life to be lived, outside of the one hour that I spent at church on Sunday. At this point, I had cracked the door to God and as I’ve heard a friend say many times – “If you give the Spirit of God an inch, he’ll take a mile”.
Jamie and I joined the church. From that point on, I can literally plot out a timeline of the ways in which God revealed Himself and moved in my life. As I reflect now, I see that He is the awesome YHWH, who provides, redeems, calms, gives peace, dwells within us, flies high as our banner, is our shepherd – He is our unwavering Father in Heaven. He first moved in my life as Jesus, my Savior, as one who walked in the world and knew the temptations of this world. I can clearly remember walking out of church on the morning of September 12, 2010 and sitting in the car and just absolutely crying (balling) my eyes out. I’m not sure if I knew it at that point, but I was surrendering my life over to Jesus at that point. I was giving over control of my life. I could no longer do it alone or do it my way; I had to give the reigns of my life over to Jesus. I was then baptized just a week later and received the gift of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God living in me, guiding me, counseling me. I had not been baptized as a child, so this was clearly an integral component of my journey, the sacrament of baptism changed the way that I viewed my life. It truly was the re-birth that Jesus tells Nicodemus of in The bible (John 3), a re-birth by the Spirit.
This is the point where I really felt my journey begin to take flight. Church each Sunday was no longer a time of counting the minutes and searching to hear a distant message, it was now a time of loving communion and Fellowship with God. At this point I really began to feel an insatiable hunger to learn, serve and to grow into a deeper faith. My wife and I went through Alpha (an intro to Christianity course – in the fall – it was a great Spiritual experience for us, yet also a great bonding experience together. This is the point where I felt God nudging me to become the Spiritual leader of our family. My wife and I really came into union here together and deepened our commitment to each other at this time.
Jamie and I began getting more involved in the church at this point, joining a small Bible study group and joining in on various service based opportunities. At this same time, I began attending a Tuesday morning early men’s Bible study group. This is where God began to reveal Himself to me as the Holy Spirit and the point where I really began to feel a deep commitment to my faith and relationship with Christ in my everyday life. This is the point where I really began to live out God’s will for us as His sons and daughters, as He tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 — Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.
As my “antennae” went up, I began to see the guidance and counseling work of the Holy Spirit in my life in many very specific ways. God’s Spirit that lives inside of me began to take hold of my life with daily guidance and navigation. From the most basic daily reflections to life altering experiences, He grasped my life. He showed me that living in a Godly way was not about personal achievement or hard work, but about getting out of the way to let God’s Spirit take control. For example, I met a homeless man at a grocery store in the middle of Overland Park (seriously, a homeless person in Overland Park, KS – surely I joke, right….). I saw him from a distance and felt a tug to see if he needed anything. I ended up getting him a meal, talking about Faith and Jesus. Ultimately Jamie and I were fortunate enough to have him join us at Easter Sunday worship. He was homeless and had nothing, but the clothes on his back. He gave what change he did have as his offering to God that day – that was powerful! So, God’s Spirit took my trepidation and previously hardened heart for humanity and transformed me – He led me to another way, a way that looked like going out on a limb to reach out to someone in need and being Christ for me.
Then, in all of His glory God revealed Himself to me as God, Abba, my Father. I’ll never forget it – it was the most recent way in which I came to know and love Him. It was June 19, 2011 of this year and at this point I had come to know Jesus and know the Spirit through His work in my life. It was the first Sunday of the Disney sermon series that was being preached at our church. We were exploring the Lion King and it was Father’s Day – how fitting! Very specifically I remember our Senior Pastor talking about the fact that God is our Heavenly Father, He knew us in the womb, He created and knows every fiber of our being. We belong in God’s loving arms, He catches us when we fall and we should run to Him and NEVER forget who we are in Him. No matter how many mistakes we make, as the Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 2:13 – if we are faithless, He remains faithful. Beyond surface knowledge of this previously, I now felt this in my heart and I was overwhelmed, knowing that all of these years I had been running the other way and searching for something in this world that I would never find. The hope, the love, the faithfulness, the everything that I was searching for was in my Heavenly Father. I cried pretty much the entire service that day and was so overcome with emotion that my wife and I had to sit and let others file out of the sanctuary before we could get up and leave. I almost felt paralyzed emotionally and physically – I was just so overcome with absolute stunning awe – REAL AWE IN GOD!
As I said earlier, my life changed when I walked in the doors of Church of the Resurrection. In just a year God has taken my hand and changed my life, the way I live it here in this temporary dwelling of the earth and my purpose here. Everything has been turned inside out, by His hand. I now get up every morning and spend time in prayer, study of the Bible and Fellowship with Christ. My wife and I can’t get ourselves involved in enough areas of service and communion with fellow Christians. Although we will never forget the years of my rebellion, the pain and the wounds that still exist, Jamie and I love each other and work to keep God in the center of everything we do. Thankfully, we are so, so fortunate to have recently welcomed a little baby boy into the world. And imagine, I almost missed all of this – I almost missed my entire life!
For a while now, I’ve felt an intense calling by God to draw upon my experiences to bring out to any and all people His love. I know both sides of the street – life without God and life with God. I know which life provides more hope, more excitement, more peace, more joy, more love, more purpose, more fulfillment, more genuine pleasure and I desire to expose this life for what it is to everybody – a life worth living.