Here are all the previous entries in my testimony. If you haven’t read any of them before, start with part one.
Part One – The Beginning
Part Two – The Panic
Part Three – Nothing Helping
Part Four – Priority and Progress
Part Five – The End is Just the Beginning
So that’s how I got where I am now. So where do I find myself today and where am I headed?
I took a mentoring class at Trinity a while back and I thought that sounded like something I would benefit from, so I decided to pray about it. I was actually unable to do that though. Every time I tried to pray about it, I kept hearing one name: Poul Erik. It was like one of those cartoons where one of the characters wants to make something super obvious to another character and puts a dozen giant flashing signs all pointing right to that thing. I had head the still small voice before. That one can be interesting because sometimes you might wonder if you’re just making it up in your own head. This wasn’t still or small. This was like a death metal singer screaming into a microphone (except I could actually understand it!). So I asked him. For some reason, I didn’t think about it beyond “well, I have to ask him.” He said he would pray about it. A few weeks went by and I started to wonder. Eventually he did get back to me about it, and he said yes, but the way he said it and the things he said made me realize this was more than just some casual thing. This was serious stuff! We’ve been meeting ever since and it’s been great. I’m learning a lot about various aspects of Christianity and spirituality.
Then a month or two ago, Trinity’s senior pastor, Nathan Hoff, told me he was going to start mentoring 5 to 10 guys in a very intentional way and that he wanted me to be one of them. So now I’m being mentored by both of Trinity’s pastors! I’m really liking how it’s going. I’m definitely learning a lot with him too. Managed to offload a pretty serious bit of baggage. It was something I was being seriously convicted about a lot lately, and something I knew I needed to deal with. I wasn’t sure how to deal with though. In fact, I didn’t even want to deal with it. I just wanted to keep right on doing it because I liked it. But I knew God wanted me to deal with it. So I did. One night while meeting with Pastor Nathan, we were getting into some past things, and he prayed for God to reveal to me anything from my past or present that I needed to let go of. I felt like I was being yelled at in my head. When he was done praying, he asked me if God had shown me anything. I simply, and matter-of-factly, responded, “yep.” I paused for a moment, hesitating. He told me I didn’t have to tell him if I didn’t want to. But I knew I did. I could have avoided it, beat around the bush, whatever. That isn’t what God wanted me to do though. I knew that. So I told him. Then we prayed about it.
Since that day a couple of weeks ago, this thing hasn’t been a problem since. It’s just gone. There’s a part of me that wonders if it will come back, especially at certain times. So far, it hasn’t. The rest of me that isn’t busy doubting knows exactly what happened and how long it will last. God removed that desire from me because I trusted in Him and did what He wanted me to do. In fact, He did the exact thing I asked for. I had prayed on my own before about this and asked God to just make this thing go away. He then provided me with the opportunity and the conviction. And when I responded as He asked, he made it go away just as I asked. He could have just made it go away the moment I first prayed on my own, but He had a better way. I believe He wanted me to trust Him by opening up to, being vulnerable with, and trusting another. My faith went up a few notches when I realized what had happened.
I really feel like I’ve changed a lot in the last few years. Years? Even the last few months. Maybe not in ways that would be super evident to most people, though maybe it would. As an example, I used to be the typical kind of person that gets angry at people who drive overly aggressive, or cut me off, and would end up yelling at them as if they could hear me, or as if it somehow made me feel better. Now, that sort of thing doesn’t bother me at all. Not even the guy a few weeks ago who was not pleased that I stopped at a light that was moments from turning red and so sped around me, ran the red light, and gave me the finger. I actually laughed when he did that, then I prayed for him. There are a number of other examples, but just my general attitude about everything now seems to come from a place of love rather than from a place of thinking everyone is stupid and worthless. If God created all of us and loves, then they must be worthy of His love. And if they’re worthy of His love, who am I to deny them mine?
A lot of the changes I’ve gone through have really been about how I see and react to the world. Instead of reacting only, I’m trying to be a lot more intentional about things. And trying to seek God’s will about, well, almost everything. It’s hard sometimes for several reasons. When I first really started this journey, I was kind of afraid that I might never remember to pray as much as I should, or study the Bible as much as I should, or be able to hear God. I’m still not quite where I want to be with all those things, and others too, but I’m light years better than I was when I started. Part of why I was hesitant to go back to church was because I thought I might never be able to do those things, or be interested in doing them, or a hundred other reasons. If I can go from where I was before, to where I am now, I believe anyone can. I also believe that those things I used to think are lies straight from the pit of hell designed to keep me from ever going back to God.
That giant panic attack I had was a huge turning point in my life. Whether I somehow did it to myself or if for some reason the enemy did it to me, I’m not sure. But I do know that it changed my life in a dramatic and fundamental way. I don’t know where I would be if that hadn’t happened, but I don’t think I would be where I am right now, so I’m glad it happened. I like to think that the enemy looked at God and said “watch this, I’m going to give this one a huge panic attack. I bet he ends up killing himself.” To which God responded, knowing me better than I know myself, “go ahead, I know he’ll get though it and come out on the other side better and stronger than he was before. And to add insult to injury, it’s going to turn him into a stronger Christian than he’s ever thought possible.”
I believe that God is really tilling the soil of the entire world right now. I see it in my life, I see it in the lives of others, in the region, the country…the entire world. I can feel it. There’s a fundamental shift that’s going to happen soon. Rather, it’s already happening, but I feel like the key turning point is coming. What it will entail, I don’t know. Maybe it’s nothing, but a lot of people I talk to feel the same way. They’re talking about revival. I think the world could really use a big one right now. I wonder if I could be involved in it, at least in some small way. I’d like to. I could use revival in my own life. I’ve got a spark, maybe a little more than a spark, but I really want it to turn into a raging fire.
Anyway, as this soil tilling relates to my life, I lost my job, Erin left hers, we’re selling our house (because we have to), we’re probably about to get several new cars as mine is broken and the lease is up on the other, Erin is starting a new job in January, and I’ve got several new projects I’m working on. All that on top of our newfound desire for a deeper relationship with God. Everything we have now, or had recently, was stuff that we acquired before that, before we ever consulted Him about anything. It’s almost like he’s hitting the reset button on our lives and washing away all the old stuff…I believe to make room for new things, better things. Materially? Maybe in some cases, but certainly not necessarily. We’ve got a third child on the way, and at this point, I don’t even care if we move into a smaller place with only two bedrooms. We’ll manage and probably be happier than ever before.
I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my life as far as work goes. If God is communicating that to me, I have yet to be able to hear it. The only clear thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is get married and have children. That’s sort of a lifelong thing, and I’m right in the middle of it. So should that be my life’s focus? Can I afford to do that with only Erin working? Can I find something part-time, or that I can do from home to fill the gap? Or do I need to be working full-time on something, even if I hate it? I don’t know. Either God isn’t telling me yet (for which He has a reason I’m sure), or I’m not hearing it. I’m going to need to hear it soon. I’ll take a vision, or a burning bush, or booming voice from the heavens if nothing else works.
Overall, I find myself in a better place than ever before. Does that have anything to do with my spiritual life finally getting somewhere? If I’m being honest, I have to say that it has everything to do with it. How else could I feel like I’m in a really good place while I lost my job and 100% of our income, and am about to lose my house, my car, and possibly two my three dogs? I have literally no idea where I’ll be living in six months. How can I feel like I’m in a good place? How is that possible? Three years ago it probably wouldn’t have been for me. But now I know that God has a plan. He’s got my back. He’ll take care of me, one way or another, until the end of my life on earth, and then he’ll bring me home. I look forward to that, but for now, I have some work to do. There are others that need to learn what I’m still in the process of learning.
I have learned so much in the past three years, six months…two weeks! I can’t even imagine how much I’m going to learn tomorrow!
I hope someone reads this and is helped by it. Even one person. Even just a little. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s ok. I know God wants me to do this, so I believe He’ll use it for whatever purpose he needs.