Some of you may already know my story or parts of it. Others have no idea. It’s amazing what it takes for God to finally get our attention. In my case there were two things that worked together that God used to shake things up in my world and get me to look at Him once and for all. Those two things are a childhood friend and the days immediately after 9/11.
I won’t go into all of the detail of what my life looked like pre-9/11 but a summary would be, I was a selfish, self-centered, former drug dealer and drug user that though it was all about me and that I had everything figured out. If you asked I would say I believed in God, was a pretty good person, and because I had never robbed a bank or killed anyone, I would go to heaven.
Fast forward to 1999 when I ran into a childhood friend I had seen off and on throughout the years named Ben Garcia. We were partners-in-crime in many adventures growing up but now there was something different about him and he wanted to tell me all about it. Because “I had it all figured out” I didn’t need to hear about how his life had changed and the role God played in it. In my mind me and God were cool and I had nothing to worry about.
For two years, 730 long days, he continued to invest in me without giving up. It didn’t matter how much I avoided him or blew him off, he hung in there. How many times have you tried to invest in someone and wanted to give up because you weren’t seeing any progress being made. I’ve been there. What he was doing was planting and watering the seeds that God would make grow later.
Tuesday, September 11th, 2001 shocked me and shook me like it did most people that were witnessed to the horrific act of terrorism. But what really got me was what I witnessed during the days to follow. I remember watching television and seeing images of women and children holding up poster board signs with pictures of their loved ones that were missing after the buildings collapsed that said, “Have you seen my father?” “Have you seen my husband?” It made me think of all the guys that went to work that day never dreaming that they would lose their life when the World Trade Center crashes to the ground after having 747′s slam into them.
I thought about all of those men who went to work thinking how fortunate they were to have awesome jobs in the World Trade Center, nice houses, cool cars, and great families. I thought about all of those men who went to work that day thinking they had it all figured out like I did. I think thought, “What if they were wrong?” which led to me think, “What if I’m wrong?” What if I didn’t have everything figured out the way I thought I did? What if God and I really aren’t cool like that?
I called my buddy up and asked him what time church started that Sunday and he told me. Sunday, September 16th, 2001 I walked through the doors of a converted warehouse in South Fort Worth that Waves of Faith used to call home. I was blown away. I had no idea a church like that existed. That was 11 years ago this Sunday. I won’t recap everything that’s happened since then but I will tell you that I, along with half of Fort Worth (maybe only a slight exaggeration…), would have never imagined that as I write this I am now a pastor, getting ordained at the very same church I walked into in 2001. That I’ve been to India three times on mission trips. That God would use me in spite of me in the ways He has. I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined that. But God did. He knew how He would use me long before I was ever a thought, a blip on the radar on anyone on planet earth. But not only does God have a plan for me, He has a plan for you too. It’s an awesome plan and beyond anything you could ever imagine.
Think for a minute about the people in your life that God wants to use you to reach them? How many times have you wanted to give up? Hang in there, you never know how long it will take or what God might want to use to shake things up in their world just like He did in mine.
My friends I see this type scenario play out time and time again @ Refuge Church. People relentlessly, unconditionally love those on the outside. Then, suddenly life happens and hearts end up changed on the inside.