The other side of Faith.

I never thought I’d be writing this, but God has done some amazing things through the single event in my life that I thought God could not have authorized. I figured God would never do something like this to me.

And now I’m sure He did it. Only God could have done something like this. See, if Kara hadn’t broken up with me, I would never have reached out so desperately for friends. I would’ve missed out on Aaron, Nick, Jason, Brian, Eric, and Scott. It’s true. He sets the solitary in families. Not to mention Tony.

I look back… and it was worth it. I wish I could get Kara back, but now? I’m not sure I’m ready. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m not. But, just like not being a preacher, it’s ok that I’m not! I’m just… overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with how, once again, God has made the disaster, the awful, the terribleness, into something incredible that I never could’ve imagined, and that never would have happened if Kara hadn’t broken up with me. It’s the gospel, all over again, lived out in my life. There’s a reason it’s my favorite story. It’s God, pulling something you’d never believe if you saw it out of disaster beyond imagination.

I owe it all to God. He sent me Aaron, gave Aaron the willingness to put up with me when I was being a brat (which was pretty much all the time, and I guess I still am sometimes). He also gave Aaron this awesome ability to not be able to stand me being miserable and a willingness to do something about it. He’s been a true friend, and I’m so outrageously blessed to have him on loan from God.

Aaron invited me to Awake, where I met Nick and Jason, who, it seems, are both around my age (Ok, so Jason’s… a little older haha)… but those two guys are passionate about God. About knowing God, and about living the life He wants us to – and I’m not talking about prosperity, health, and wealth. I’m talking about serving God and being obedient to Him. They’ve been a huge encouragement to me.

Aaron again… I told him about a sin area in my life; something I picked up a couple years ago that I still struggle with. I told him how it was eating at me, how I felt worthless and useless… and he dragged me off to a prayer meeting that very night. At first he suggested that I go, then he pretty much told me I was going. And I’m telling you, it was amazing. We confessed sins to each other and prayed for each other (that’s where I met Eric – I’d already met Brian but, typical of me, had forgotten him).

Tony, the only guy there younger than me (by seven years at least), is also passionate about God – not just doing church, but about loving God and doing his will. It’s strange, how holiness takes on a whole different light depending on who you’re around. When you believe that God sees righteousness as a good thing AND (haha Joel Osteen would be so embarrassed) the REAL path to your best life now… it’s amazing.

Anyway, Tony gave me this quote; he told me that I was going to be healed of this sin – and that it was a promise from God. I didn’t quite buy it, so I asked for the verse… James 5:16. “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” I stood amazed.

And the second half of that verse, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much?” It’s true, and it’s incredible. I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants – who don’t know it. There’s no way in the world to describe what it feels like to hear another man passionately lifting up your own heart before God and asking for Him to do powerful work and… it’s just unbelievable. I used to think people were kind of “being holy” when they talked about the power of prayer. That first night, though… I believe it. God’s church is powerful when it’s on its’ knees praying together – for each other…. that was the night that I realized that the church truly is God’s hope for the world. God has used these men to restore my faith in Him, and to bring life from disaster, and to bring my life out of disaster.

But see, I never would’ve been hanging out with Aaron – in fact, I never would’ve gone back to YAs and word of life if Kara hadn’t broken up with me! …and if that had happened, I never would’ve met Scott.

Scott’s a sort of unassuming guy with more passion for God than some pastors. The first time I talked to him and started getting to know him, we started talking about old Testament stuff, and all kinds of amazing stuff that modern-day Christians totally miss out on by abandoning Christianity’s Jewish heritage. And HE was talking more than I was!

The next time we talked, he had a conversation with one of the elders at word of life, and they started talking… somehow, Scott seems to bring out the worst in people. By that I mean that if something’s bothering you, somehow you’ll probably end up telling him. And at the end of the conversation, he asked this elder if it would be Ok with him if Scott prayed for HIM! (He said yes.) We both put our hands on him, and Scott prayed this incredible prayer that I can’t begin to repeat – man that guy knows his Bible – but it was passionate, and it was real.

Then we went back to the café and he found stuff to ask Aaron, and before I knew what was happening, I was standing there, me and Scott with our hands on Aaron, and Scott praying again. I’m telling you…

Then as we were walking out to our respective cars, Scott asked if I wanted him to pray for me. I’d been secretly hoping he’d ask. I poured out my heart… a lot of hurt, and stuff only a few people know about. He drove me down to my car in the lower lot and prayed for me. I was incredibly touched by his prayer and his impassioned pleas for God on my behalf, and when I asked if I could pray for him, my prayer felt weak by comparison. I prayed from my heart, though.

So that brings us to this week: Scott just randomly brought in a bunch of Bible verses on cards. He handed one stack to Aaron, and the other to me. I was caught off-guard, and I think the wonder showed when I thanked him for the cards… he could’ve given me a motorcycle and the reaction probably would’ve been the same. (Of course, the motorcycle would’ve been more expensive, and I wouldn’t have known what to do with it.)

Then I looked at the cards… here’s one.

“The Father loves me completely, thoroughly, and perfectly.
I John 3:1 “See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children – and indeed we are!””

He’d personalized other verses, like “Psalm 139:17-18 – “My thoughts and plans for you, David, are so vast in numbers…….. That they are more than the grains of the sands.”

I haven’t felt like that since Kara used to send me verses. I feel like I’m not alone anymore. I guess I never was; I just felt like it. Even when I was walking down the streets of Youngstown one night, wondering if God was really there, and if He even cared what was happening to me, He was there right beside me. “The righteous man falls seven times, and gets back up, because the Lord is the one who holds his hand.” I’m righteous, because Jesus has made me righteous through His shed blood and resurrection. Positionally, anyway. I want to be righteous in practice, too. Imagine! David the Rebel wanting to be righteous, and thinking of righteousness as GOOD! I never would’ve thought it.

And that’s another thing… you wouldn’t believe this group of guys I’m with, praying with, Saturday nights. They look like normal, average guys, but the married guys are praying and want to be better husbands and fathers, and the single guys are praying and want to be good and Godly husbands and fathers; we’re praying for God to prepare us for the women He’s going to send for us to love and to cherish… and to be good fathers to the children He’ll give us. I thought I was the only one who wanted this stuff.

I have been blessed way beyond anything I deserve. God has once again pulled victory out of absolute disaster… and I truly believe that what I saw as disaster, God saw as a way to force me to pursue what I needed desperately but never would have gone after if He hadn’t. I’ve joined the elite group that Eric Ludy calls “the Fellowship.” I’ve learned a great truth, too: none of us are super-Christians. We all slip and fall, and every last one of us needs each other. Like many famous preachers have said, there are no lone ranger Christians.

So I thank God for these friends He’s given me, and for forcing me to pursue relationship with men of God, of like faith and like passion. I guess that sounds a little religious, but I don’t care, and I don’t have time to Davidize the cliches into a less religious-sounding way of putting that stuff.

OH! And I think I found the church I’ve been looking for. That place I’ve been talking about where grace and truth collide. It’s called Victorious Life Church. I know a couple people, and the messages are positive and encouraging – but don’t let sin slip by or act like it’s ok because everybody’s doing it. It’s the pursuit of righteousness like it’s a good thing. (Not to be confused with the religious-sounding “good,” but good in the sense of ice cream on a hot day. When I say good, I mean GOOD.) And as a special bonus prize for me from God, not because I’ve done well, but just because He happens to be good, that church just happens to be the place that Brian and Eric and Tony go to (plus Tom, who brought Brian to YAs. Turns out Tom’s the pastor’s son.)

Well… I guess that’s pretty much the tip of the iceberg of the good stuff God’s been doing in my life. I don’t have time to write about how one of the girls from Awake gave a lesson that kinda got me back in the Bible more ’cause I’d been slipping a little (she made it seem like a good thing lol), or how another made this relationship with God seem like a better thing than I’d seen it, or… yeah.

All I can say is that God has once again been undeservedly good to one more guy who doesn’t deserve His love.

And I have a feeling that’s only the beginning.

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