How I ‘walked the Fence’ Spiritually…
Since accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior in 2003 I have committed my life to loving God, people and service.
(Currently working on a hip ‘testimonial’ video to be posted here soon!)
I was raised Catholic for some 30 years, and learned about God going to a Catholic elementary school. But it was not until the fierce and fiery storms of divorce and addiction in my early 30’s that I sought God boldly. My whole adult life, the devil had whispered into my ear, “You’ve sinned far too much, give it up!!” Or, ” It’s much more fun, doing things my way–God’s way too boring” So for 30 plus years I would stand on this ‘middle’ ground. While I wanted to go to Heaven, I also wanted to things that I knew were sinful, so thus, I would continue to ‘walk the fence’.
I thought God and ‘fun’ were directly opposed! Somehow, in the Catholic church I went to, and grew up in, I never developed a true friend in the church in over 30 years. So spiritually, I was rather isolated. At any given ‘mass’ I would be hard pressed to tell you who anybody was around me. One time I attempted to attend the church’s annual picnic, but it got rained out and thus I never attended. Further there were no relevant ways to connect with other 20 or 30 somethings my age. In fact, I felt like the only person there who was 25 years old and single. It wasn’t in my experience that the Catholic church was ‘bad’ it just did not challenge me to be the person I needed to be.
In the Jacuzzi I go!!
In the height of my ‘fiery storms of life’ –my separation from my ex-wife/pending divorce/heavy guilt/sexual addictions, I was so tired of the brokenness and despair and anger, I had hit an incredible low in my life. It was just days away from our divorce being final. Thinking a vacation might be good for me to reflect, I discovered that there was a Christian cruise. I figured It would be great to get away and enjoy the water and fresh air–so I did it.
The group was led by a Pastor James Brummett who was teaching the “Jabez Prayer”. I attended the daily teachings and other than that I spent the first 3 days entirely alone, I was too much of a misfit to even talk to anyone. The time I spent up on the topmost deck, I was wrestling with God some serious questions… Like ” I know divorce is a sin, but this marriage is pure misery!!”
By the 4th day, after listening to all of James teachings, and seeing he was obviously ‘on fire’ with love for God…I had somehow mustered the courage to face him ( because I know it’s wrong to get a divorce, I want his blessing–so I won’t burn in Hell for this divorce!) and whole heartedly decided to tell him EVERYTHING, confess all my sins and let the chips fall where they may. After all, I was so sick and tired of being beaten down, depressed, separated, and feeling guilty, I finally felt it just couldn’t get any worse! It was one of the bravest things I ever did.
I finally told him every little dirty detail of my life, our hopeless marriage, my addictions…
As I started to tell him what I thought I might never be able to do, I broke down and cried like a baby. Confessing sins I never confessed to even a priest before, surely was emotional for me… After I told him I was days away from being divorced, he said “Hey man, you are still married! You have to go home and try to work this thing out!” Pastor James then asked me, “Are you babtized?” I said “of course–I’m Catholic”. He noted that is good, but that there is something special about doing it as an adult, being submersed completely (symbolizing your complete submission to God) and making a decision as an adult to follow Jesus.
I asked, “can you do it NOW?!”
He said, I will see…
About an hour later, James told me I was getting baptized in a jacuzzi on the upper deck. That led to two others wanting to be baptized that same night. There were many in the group who came out to watch the baptisms and after wards We praised the Lord in song (while I am still wet with a towel wrapped around me). It was way outside my little ‘comfort zone’, but somehow after all I had faced, It didn’t matter, the most important relationship I will ever know, was just restored! I had for the first time really truly accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Pastor James gave me a few specific instructions following that evening, and I decided in my heart, I would humble myself and follow them exactly.
He gave me a specific prayer to pray daily, to read the bible, and seek God. Which I did.
He told me to look on Focus on the Families’ website and find a “good Bible teaching church” in my area. And I did.
He also told me to go back home and do your best to try to work things out with your wife, get Biblical counseling at your “good Bible teaching church”. Which I also did–as much as I could,
Facing my past…
as much as I wanted to work things out, the pastor who couseled us told me: “you were in a ceremony, but you were never married in the first place…” I started to realize they were trying to be gentle with me in that you need two people in a marriage, and that she never took me as her husband, as they had discovered in the hours of couseling. I just couldn’t see it, after all I had idolized this girl for so many years that I could not be objective anymore.
So in the mist of the many months I was coming to terms, God may not want to restore this marriage. That really tested my faith. But I somehow knew, if I could just trust God, things would work out. So I started to rebuild my life, looking for a new church to call home. I somehow was convicted by the Holy Spirit to what Pastor James meant. If I go back to my old Catholic church, won’t I end up with the same results? I somehow knew, I had to take a risk and find a new church if I really wanted to make a change. One that I would meet men who could keep me accountable… A few years back I had been to what seemed at the time like ‘radical’ churches. They were churches like the ‘Vineyard’ or some ‘Non-denominational’ where people talked about God ALL THE TIME! They prayed over each other after services, they hugged each other, there were tears from people breaking free from addictions by the power of Christ. I was actually brave enough to visit these churches as the problems in my life mounted, but knew that if I ever attended one of these churches, I would have to face alot of sin!! I wasn’t ready before my babtism. But I was ready now. I got plugged into a non-denominational church Church on the Rise. Pastor Paul Endrei was boldly seeking God when I ‘visited’ years ago, and low and behold, he still was. I decided to make that my new church.
And for the first year–I was radically outside of my comfort zone. 5 years later God has restored my life. He has brought a most incredible wife into my life, we have a daughter (and a baby on the way) and I am incredibly blessed. It doesn’t mean I don’t have any struggles any more, but the relationship I have now with God, has given me so much joy, and he has given me much revelation. I would never, never, never go back to listening to Satan’s lies. Doing it God’s way is truly the funnest way and only way that leads to real, lasting happiness. The devil’s ways may give temporary joy, but that little joy is always eclipsed by the pain that inevitably follows!