Thank you to so many of you who have “liked”, or “shared”, or “commented” on these posts. I have appreciated your encouragement.
Well, as I thought about this milestone, I thought today’s post needed to be something personal and something different. Some of my readers have to wonder who I really am as I write about topics as varied as quotes, book reviews, parenting, finances, faith, poetry, work, etc. Well, sit back and let me tell you a story:
I grew up like most kids back in my day. I loved being outside playing sports. Some of my fondest memories in my life involve playing baseball with my friends. I couldn’t get enough of sports, especially baseball and soccer.
As far as faith went, our family went to church nearly every weekend and I was confirmed at 12 or 13 years old. As I look back at that time, I would say, I believed in God, but in a similar way to believing in George Washington. I believe they existed, but also that they had little relevancy in life.
Throughout my teen years in the early 70’s, a new kind of interest was developing for me: girls and partying. I won’t go into all the details of those years but I will summarize it like this: sports (and mostly soccer at this point), which had been a huge passion of mine, was being replaced by my own selfish and foolish pursuits. Fortunately, my soccer talents were still good enough that a college gave me a scholarship to play soccer there.
While at college, and basically living on my own at campus, I was free to indulge my carefree passions, which I did with an intensity. Again, the details are not important other than to say, I cared little for anyone else, just the pursuit of my own pleasures. Looking back now over that 5-6 year period of time, my heart is weighed down by so many regrets. I have since apologized to many people who I know, in my selfish ways, I hurt during that time. I am so sorry for so many things I did.
Beside my focus on just looking out for my self, the result of that reckless period in my life was: almost total hopelessness, a heavy feeling of loneliness, and despair. The life that my heroes (the rock ‘n roll bands I listened to) described was not turning out to be the “endless Summer” kind of life I thought it would be. Instead, it was a very, very dark time for me.
Then, things changed. In December of 1980, I was partying with some guys at school when someone came in to our smoke-filled room to say that John Lennon of the Beatles was just shot and killed. Wow! Although I enjoyed the Beatles’ music, I was never a total zealot, but this news rocked (no pun intended) my world. I got up and said to the guys I was going back to my room to write. Say what?
I had never done anything like that before, but I cranked out in no time at all a paper on Lennon’s death, called “Stillness in the Air”. From that moment forward something crazy happened. By writing that Beatles’ piece, it was like I had turned on the creative faucet. Going forward, I had an incredible urge to write in poetry the things that were on my mind.
In classes, or in restaurants, at pool sides, or in the middle of the night, while driving, etc. thoughts were pouring out of my head and I had to write them down.
Initially, the poems were very dreary. They were very depressing. During that early stage I had a feeling I would be sharing these writings with others, and so I felt a need to filter them so that they didn’t reveal to others how confused and messed up I really was. But, then one day, it was like I was standing in front of a mirror to my soul and the thought came to me, “you’ve been lying to so many people for so many years now, you can’t even be honest to yourself”. Wow! Those words were piercing!
Like John Wayne, pulling up his bootstraps for the final showdown with the bad guys, I told myself I needed to be honest and see where this all led. The poems continued pouring out of my heart. But now, I didn’t filter them in any way. What I was thinking came out on paper. The poems continued to relate a mix of my partying adventures along with times of reflection and it was during these soul-searching times, that I could see the growing depth of my loneliness, confusion, and despair.
But one day, a new poem came out, Spirit by the Sea and that poem marked a change. In that poem, a person leaves the shore and gets in a boat, only to find himself about to drown, but then miraculously is given hope and new life by a dove flying above his head. From that point going forward, my poems started to reflect life and a change of heart.
In fact, during this season of an outpouring of poetry, I knew deep down that poetry from a searching heart would come out of it. Those poems, “Emotions”, “Change of Heart”, and “Aaron” are the poems I share on Friday and Saturday nights.
The next massive change in my life came in June of 1982. I was at a restaurant in Rockford, Illinois. It was about midnight. I was studying for a Summer class I was taking at a community college. A friendly guy, a stranger next to my table started a conversation with me and soon had me at the edge of my seat with our conversation.
He told me of his life. He mentioned to me that he was a musician who frequented a bar quite a bit. At one point, he was offered a record deal by Motown records, but at the last-minute, his deal fell through. It led him to great depression. His frequency at the bar escalated, until he was a mess. While frequently being at the bar, he developed a friendship with a guy who saw that he was down in his luck and he offered him a job–to join him in being a professional art thief. You know, the kind of guys who do the million dollar art heists.
My new friend at the restaurant went on to say, he was kind of shocked by what this guy at the bar was telling him. He was never aware of anyone personally who really did those kinds of things. He then asked his bar friend what would be involved in a job like this. His friend said two things: 1) you can’t be involved with a woman (because if you break up, she could turn us in)–that made sense and 2) you have to sell your soul to the Devil.
“Uhhhh!–I can’t do that” my new-found friend replied and the conversation was over between the two bar buddies.
Continuing then in his declining ways for many more months, this stranger at the restaurant went on to tell me how hopeless he was and that he saw little else to do, but to go kill himself. So, he left his mother’s house (in either Indiana or Pennsylvania, I can’t remember) and left in his pick up truck to go kill himself. While driving, he remembered he forgot the item he was going to kill himself with, so he went back to his mom’s house.
While there, he met his sister who lived in Texas, who was a Christian. As the sister and brother talked, she said that she felt overwhelmingly like she was being led by God to go back to her mother’s immediately, though she didn’t know why—but she obeyed God’s prompting.
“I don’t really know, but I really felt like God was wanting me to come home for some reason” she told her brother.
Not too long afterwards, the brother revealed what he was planning to do and the sister knew why she was sent home—to share about a living and loving God who was wanting to save her brother from the darkness he was in and the death he was considering and to offer him forgiveness, and peace, love, and life.
The brother welcomed that news and gave his life to Jesus Christ by confessing his rebellious and sinful ways and believed that Jesus Christ had died on a cross to take his punishment and through Christ’s resurrection, to offer Him new life.
His story left me speechless. Although I was aware of God, even from my childhood days, He tended to be a historical figure. But, here I was, hearing something totally new. I was hearing about a God who is alive and who was personally willing to get involved in people’s lives today. He is a God who desires to demonstrate His love for each of us and willing to reveal His life to us, if needed, in dramatic ways to those who were open to giving Him a chance. My restaurant friend gave me something to read (a Bible or a tract, I can’t remember) and that night in June of 1982, I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Since that time, I have been regularly overwhelmed by His love for me and His truth and glimpses of the amazing God He really is. I have appreciated His patience with me as I still struggle at times with surrendering my will to Him and trusting Him, but He is always faithful and always there if I just turn to Him.
I have also developed my passion for life coaching to help people understand the importance of making wise decisions now, instead of living a life of regrets. Because I have seen the consequences of living a self-centered life, I am, all the more, energized to help people recognizing the need to strive for excellence in all areas of their responsibilities.
Well, that is my story, really it is just a continuance of His story that He is revealing every day.
So, where do you fit in to this story? Who are you like in the story I just told and why do you think that?
Are you seeking to live in a way like I was in my late teens and early 20’s, a kind of life that our world endorses, whether it is life bent on pleasure or power, or material goods, that seems so meaningful, but realistically offer no lasting satisfaction?
Are you living in way like me in my early 20s’s when I was just trying to figure out alone what life is really all about, meanwhile getting further and further into a rut of despair, loneliness, and hopelessness?
Are you like the sister who is walking in obedience to God and willing to obey His promptings, even in what could appear to be a radical or “over the top” kind of way just to be used of God in whatever way He so chooses?
Or are you like me in June of 1982 when I was coming to understand that I am a lost and sinful person before a holy God? Are you coming to realize that you have been living in a way that has been independent of God and not pleasing to Him? Have you come to a point where you now see that He is alive and loves you very much, more than you’ll ever know and that He has made a way for you to be forgiven of your sin, and brought in to a relationship with Him through the death of His Son on a cross, and through His resurrection? Are you ready right now to receive this Good News—then do it! Don’t wait”
With a post like this, where I have opened up my life to you, my hope is that you will share with me your response. I’d love to hear your story.
Well, on to the next 1000!