Nearly every great TV show starts with a pilot episode. It seems fitting that I’d also start off our blog with a pilot.
Each of us can be looked at as if our lives are one big book. I like to look at my life as a series. My story has taken several twists and turns, some for the good, and some for the bad. So, I want to write about the beginning of my newest book that started in November 2014.
My search for purpose started the day a close friend of mine called me in early November. I noticed he was drunk, which was unusual to me since I never saw him drink. We had other sorts of addictions, and I had only heard about his struggles with alcoholism. While on the phone, he told how he’s worried about losing his family. His wife had threatened to take their kids to her parents and call the cops. So, I offered to pick him up and drive around a little to let the alcohol wear off. He refused and eventually hung up.
There are a couple things I want to mention about our relationship at the time. Our families go back a ways to our grandparents being close friends. I grew up in church and had quit 8 years earlier. He, as a child, had only came to service occasionally. He had been an atheist for nearly 20 years, and I was extremely agnostic. I say agnostic, because I had hoped there was a God but had settled with myself that He wasn’t real.
Anyway, that next day he calls me again. This time I’m not sure if he was still drinking but he was much less frantic. He starts telling me certain things he’s noticed about our parents.
“Have you noticed your parents and my parents have peace? Because we don’t have that.” I gave an “uh-huh.” He goes on, “They have purpose and happiness. And what do we do everyday? We work, we hang out, and we smoke every day with no meaning.” I gave another, “uh-huh.” Then he says, “If there is a God and He is the one that gave them this then how do I do that? How can I know if He’s real? I want what they have. I don’t want to live like this anymore.”
When he asked me this, it’s like he was looking to me for direction on how to find God. And, I had no real answers for him. All I could think to tell him is it sounded like the first step. And, that I had asked for years if He was real but never got a confirming reply.
(I get a little emotional writing about this. This was the weekend that my whole life changed.)
I found out later he asked his step-father to help him receive Jesus Christ into his life. They went to a church right then, and they prayed right there. He gave his life to God that weekend and his life completely transformed in a way that I had only ever heard about in stories. I could not believe what I had witnessed! I saw him delivered of all substance addictions. And, he would call me each night during the next week about how God was teaching him how to be a better father and husband. He was making it through each day by praying and reading a bible he just started to pick up. Then, he would go to bed each night with a bible app playing through his phone. He would call me around midnight to see if I would come over and read the bible with him since he wasn’t sleeping well. Which, I did this happily, but I started getting jealous.
I got very jealous that God had, so clearly, revealed himself to my friend and yet I was still ignored. So, I leave his house one night, bring my bible into my parent’s basement, and I got down on my knees.
I prayed holding my bible, “God, you can’t hide from me anymore. There’s no way I could deny that it’s you doing this, and I’m glad to see it. But, why am I ignored? Do you just not want me? Have I made too many mistakes that I’m beyond you redeeming my life? Am I not redeemable?
I continued, “I’m going to open my bible, hoping you will give me something. If I open up to something that makes no sense then I’ll leave you alone. I’ll stop looking for you, and I’ll be OK with that. But, if you do want me and I am redeemable, just this once, would you let me know?”
What I opened my bible to was Isaiah 43:1 and it goes like this:
Thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
I didn’t feel overwhelmed, I didn’t speak in tongues, and I didn’t shout for joy. I chose to believe it was true, and it would be 6 months later before I truly got to experience it.
I will have to write more about this at a later time. I didn’t intend to do a novel so I’ll end with this.
If you’re hearing God’s call for the first time, but you don’t see what He’s doing, just continue to trust that He has a plan for you. If He didn’t leave me behind in His work then He won’t leave you where you are, too.