Saturday, September 12, 2009
My life before meeting Jesus
I have been asked by a family member to share about the anger I had as a teenager. I will do my best to respond in a way that does not violate the privacy of my family. This is an important topic since it allows me to share how I found the solution...
Growing up in a large family is like being a member of a football team. When you are prepared, you win and it is fun. When you fail to communicate or watch each others' back, bad things happen.
The early seasons for our "team" went very well. New players were added over a ten year period and we were a strong family. As we grew up together, we camped and hung out with other teams from our "division". The teams in our division all looked similar on the outside, that is, we worshiped the same God, and shared the same values.
It was not until high school that I started to meet players from other divisions. Some did not even believe in God. A few even went so far as to tell me that I would not go to Heaven unless I changed teams and signed up with them. I loved fighting with these wackos because I was certain that they needed to be straightened out.
Just when I needed my "quarterback" the most, he left the team. He didn't just leave the team, he left the city, and later, the country. He would visit his old team about once a year, usually for about an hour and then he would go back to his new team.
Our team began to have losing season after losing season. The players lost their sense of direction. At times, we thought we might be getting a new quarterback and the thought of this made me angry. Our old quarterback was never going to come back and life was not good.
I asked God to take me off of the team. The pressure of losing daily was really getting to me and I wanted to quit football forever. God said no. Then my anger started to turn into hate. I hated the players from the other divisions. If they didn't think like me, they weren't worth my time. I pretty much hated everybody outside my division, communists, gays, nonbelievers, etc, etc. I was really messed up. Everywhere I looked, I could only see evil. Little by little, the Evil One was taking advantage of my broken team and soon I turned into the "naked cave man possessed by demons" (see earlier post about my first Bible lesson). I only went to church so I could be an "example" for my younger team-mates. I sat in the back of the church and if no one was there, I turned the sound off because I wasn't in the mood to listen to anyone in authority.
The Evil One had clever ways of confusing me. I stopped praying the "Our Father" because I thought it was some sort of trap. What I mean by that is there is a clause the says "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others". Was I really asking God to punish me since I punished every enemy that crossed me? Forgiveness would not be in my vocabulary for many, many years. This attitude added about fifty pounds of concrete to the heavy load I was already carrying. It did not make me a valuable member of my football team.
Once I realized that God was not going to take me off the field, I began to pray for Wisdom so that I could survive. The Evil One put thoughts in my head that God was too busy to get back to me. My prayer for Wisdom was so that I could solve my problems on my own, I just wanted a couple of pointers now and then.
It is hard to acquire Wisdom when you are possessed by demons. Since I was so stubborn and "uncoachable", God sent me my future wife so He could reach me through her. From the moment I met her, I sensed there was some good in her that I was attracted to. She went to church regularly and I started going with her. Finally, I had something to thank God for.
The day I opened my mostly unused Bible and asked God to show me who I am, is also the first day my demons were cast out of my messed up mind. I did not even realize I was possessed until God revealed it to me. Jesus showed me that He can transform Himself from Words into a real person and "time travel" 2,000 years into the future to meet me as I am reading about Him.
This experience inspired me to begin fulfilling my destiny... publishing all the good that Jesus has done for me. You are reading this post today because you are part of the story and we already know how it ends...GOD WINS!
My journey continues now that I am out of the cave. My next big experience after the first Bible lesson was to go to a retreat. During this three day weekend, I discussed my unforgiving ways with the "shepherds". Something happened when an ancient technique called the "laying of the hands" was used on me at the end of the retreat. It had to do with inviting Jesus in to my heart. At the moment the hands were placed over my head, I had a vision. Jesus was next to me but I could not see Him. In front of me was a long row of people. They all had something in common, they were all people that had crossed me and that I had never forgiven. One of the people was my old "quarterback" who abandoned his team when it needed a leader. In the vision, I was thanking Jesus for each and every one of them. A few minutes after having this "vision" I woke up and the church was mostly empty. A strange sense of peace that I had never known before was in my heart.
One of the first things I did after the retreat was send an email to my old quarterback telling him of my experience at the retreat. When he replied, he told me he wanted to visit. I was stunned because I never thought I would see him again after he moved deep into Mexico.
A series of miracles occurred almost daily when my quarterback returned for his thirty five day visit. He asked for a "huddle" with his old teammates and everyone including his ex-wife agreed to a meeting. It would be the last time I would hear my quarterback speak but his words and actions inspire me to this day. He had brought a checklist with him and made sure that every item was complete before the game was over. We were now at the two minute warning and my quarterback had his eyes fixed on the end zone for the game winning touch down.
As our quarterback looked around, he and my mother rejoiced at how the "team" had overcome so much. We were much older and now there were grandchildren who were being groomed future games. It was time for our quarterback to make the final play call and all of us were eager to defeat the enemy that had kicked our butts for so many years.
The final play call was a "HAIL MARY". The receiver he picked was often overlooked in his early years but he got up to speed quickly during the thirty five days that our quarterback was in town. There was no way that this receiver was going to drop the ball. The enemy had harassed him all his life and this time he was going to be open for the game winner.
As the final seconds of the game clock clicked to zero, my brother was open and my left-handed father threw a pass that was executed to perfection. We all jumped up and down for joy. The enemy had finally been defeated and the game was over.
Then, we looked over at our quarterback and he was down. The defense had piled up on top of him just after he threw the final pass. There wasn't much left of him due to the cancer that had riddled his body and he never got up off of the ground. I whispered into his ear, "its OK, dad, its time for you to be with Jesus, your work here is done and the game is over now. We won! We love you!"
Our team huddled over our quarterback one final time and ended with the "Our Father" prayer. We had just won our first Super Bowl and the enemy had been conquered. Jesus was our coach and our Solution and now He had called up my father to spend eternity with the team owner.