Yeah I know it sounds like a National Enquirer headline, but today is my birthday of sorts. Actually a rebirth day would be more accurate. A year ago today I attended church after a long time away and had an unexpected encounter with God’s grace and forgiveness that changed everything. In case you don’t know my story, I felt called to preach at age twelve but ran from that call in my twenties. At thirty I started preaching again and ended up planting a church. After about eight years I let bitterness and unforgiveness get the best of me and quit the ministry again. Over the next few years, I quit going to church at all. I really thought I knew some things and that God was not the answer. Man, was I wrong.
In just a few moments, a year ago, God opened my eyes and through the miraculous gift of His Son, allowed me to comprehend true grace and repentance, unlike anything I had read or taught about before. I realized that nothing else really mattered, that knowing Him completely was everything. I’m pretty much an all or nothing guy. All in, or all out. Over the next few days, it was clear that I was all in – ready to give everything to follow him. Here I was, this long-haired rockstar wannabe trying to figure out what to do. That Sunday morning, a retired minister who has since passed, said to me, “I remember when you were five years old you used to say when you grew up you were going to be a hippie preacher.” I just couldn’t get that out of my head. I couldn’t believe the domain hippiepreacher.com was available, so I bought it thinking, “Well, let’s see where this goes.”
I didn’t really have a plan, I just thought I would post a few thoughts and see what happened. As the months passed, I was given some opportunities to speak, we started a small group in our home and then started a youth ministry called InYOUnity. The past year has been both the most rewarding and traumatic year of our lives. I say our, because my whole family is an integral part of this journey. We’ve seen the best and the worst of those who call themselves Christian. We’ve seen God impact families and friends in our circle of influence. We’ve seen more than a dozen teenagers make commitments to be fully devoted followers of Christ. And we’ve seen the wilderness.
If anyone tells you following Yahushua (Jesus) is an easy thing, run for the hills. He said to find your life you have to lose it. Well, there have been a number of times over the past year that I thought I was “losing it”. We’ve struggled financially more than any other time. Every door of opportunity seemed to slam shut. There have been many times that we were at the end of our hope when God’s provision would miraculously show up and get us through the day. We’ve had to learn to “take no thought for tomorrow” quite literally. But each day, there has been enough. This summer was challenging to say the least. I won’t go into detail, but were it not for the hospitality family and friends we would have been homeless – though we preferred the term gypsies!
So a year later, with an empty bank account, no security on the horizon and not even a clear plan of the vision that God is leading us to – was it worth it? Absolutely. I think David said it best:
Psalms 84:10 ESV
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
My prayer all along has been for God to do something that only He can take credit for. I’ve had some great lessons that my own talents and gifts are irrelevant if I count them my own. It’s all His. We’ve been through what seems like a lot, but we’ve not been hungry, tortured or imprisoned. Paul faced all that and more, and from within a cell wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” When what God has called you to do is bigger than your abilities, requires resources you don’t have and doesn’t even make sense to those around you – walking by faith is not easy. I couldn’t do this. I would have given up. Yet somehow, God’s grace is sufficient. It’s the peace that doesn’t make sense.
So where do we go from here? I don’t have a clue, but I know the One who does – and I know His plan is good – beyond what I could imagine.
Romans 8:28 ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.