Well … maybe not. But I always wondered … my story seemed so boring. Did I really have anything that anyone would really care about?
You know that is kind of interesting though because I have talked to many others who also feel like they missed out on something by having their transformation to living in the Kingdom be a process rather than a cataclysmic event. Of course, funny thing about that … most of those who did have a much more dramatic event will tell you that they’d give anything to have their story have been more of a process one – to not have endured the pain and broken relationships and other things that led up to some cataclysmic spiritual rebirth for them.
I really had to think about it a great deal as we were asked for this meeting to come up with some specific stories that God has given over the years which are uniquely ours but are stories that may be helpful when encouraging someone else on their faith journey.
I had prayed on my own before but I had a public proclamation of my faith at age 11. But afterward, nothing much happened. Life pretty much stayed the same. I was a fairly well behaved kid before and a fairly well behaved kid after. And that’s all I thought there was to this Christianity stuff. Seemed pretty simple to me. I ended up always seeing God as an unapproachable judgmental deity. I had no clue that He sought a personal relationship with me.
That part of my story is proof of the importance of discipleship … you don’t necessarily get from Point A to Point B without a guide. And that’s one of the stories I can share with others now … all the years I spent even after my salvation but not really “getting it” … not really living in the hope that God has reserved just for me. Those years were an opportunity for someone to engage me and encourage me in a more personal walk with God but it never happened.
In my college days there were probably even points when I would have told someone I was agnostic had they asked … but no one did ask. I went to one of the most “Christian” colleges around and no one ever asked where I was on a faith journey. Can you believe that? Just another reminder for us all to engage others … to come alongside them.
And yet, through all of that, God kept pursuing me … I felt this spiritual void that I knew needed to be filled.
Then after college, life happened. Marriage … busy job … running here and there … and still I didn’t have a clue that God was seeking me … that He was more than this judgmental deity that wanted to someday give me either a red light or a green light to get into heaven (sort of like getting into Mexico.)
When Evan came along, I knew that I had to step it up. I realized I was supposed to be spiritual head of my family. And it was no longer about just my own salvation … it was about my son’s salvation as well … that really pushed me back to the church to try to figure things out. That happening is a big part of the story God has given me I believe. I have told that story several times to young parents and it always seems to move them to at least some degree.
A few weeks ago I sat next to a young couple on a plane and they were obviously very proud of their month old daughter. But it also became apparent to me they weren’t married. I talked to them some and actually gave them a gift of a little money and told them to go out – just the two of them – for a nice dinner and focus on their relationship because they needed to present a positive model for that little girl. I hope that they followed through and did just that.
So, anyway, after Evan came along and God convicted me that there had to be more, I started nosing around the church some and thankfully, I found people who wanted to come alongside me … and I found people who were hugely inspiring and encouraging …
And, though I still have so very far to go, for the first time in my life as all this started to take shape a few years ago, I realized that God wanted to be more than just my judge. He wanted to be in relationship with me and He had a call on my life. That Spiritual void I had felt for probably 25 years was suddenly melting away. It wasn’t a matter of reaching some sort of perfection so I could get the green light … it was instead always seeking God.
So, today how do I live out my faith … where do I see my calling? A part of that right now is in the Marketplace, running a business where everyone in it wants to have a positive impact the world and everyone we encounter. That’s real important to me to have a business that is aligned with God and where He wants it to be.
You know one thing I did almost two years ago … I turned all of the hiring at my business over to God. I don’t advertise positions anymore. I find that God just brings me people with great hearts when I need them … it’s incredible … and also part of my story.
Another thing that I see as a God story on my life … something that gets me some raised eyebrows whenever I share it … look at me for a second -- middle aged … overweight, pear shaped or whatever … don’t exercise enough … have what should be a pretty stressful career … have a long history of high blood pressure and cholesterol in my family … and yet when I go to the doctor, they can’t believe my numbers. Now I know that not all believers are so lucky but I believe this is part of my story … the inner peace I have about life … the priorities I have developed … the confidence knowing that my worth comes from God not man … those are the things that I believe keep my BP and cholesterol in check. Will they catch up with me some day? Oh probably. I need to get serious about exercising but the fact is, God has given me a huge story through that … Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that He wants me to be so physically out of shape but I do believe that, for my personal physiology, it is the indwelling Holy Spirit that keeps me in as good of shape as I am in.
So, no, maybe I have not had what would seem like a dramatic conversion. No Jerry Springer to Robert Schuller story. It has been more of a process but even in that God has given me stories that I can share with others in real community and relationship … that can resonate with them, and bring them into spiritual-focused conversation with me where hopefully God can grow His Kingdom.