The walk of life…

As we were ordering our food the other night I noticed a guy in a wheelchair working at chick fila. He brought us our food with a smile. I said thank you and he went on his way.

It reminded me of a guy I used to know in the car business. He had cerebral palsy and used either a wheelchair or arm crutches every where he went.

One night my dad pulled me to the side, and said son count your blessings. This guy has to deal with his disability every day. You take your life, and your physical health for granted.

At the time what he said didnt even make a dent on me.

But it was not long after that my dad got the news of his cancer. A stage four diagnosis right off the bat. I am certain it had been brewing inside of him for quite some time. Probably for years.

After my dad was gone I would see that guy at the auctions. Everytime I saw him I remembered that conversation we had that night so many years before. To be honest in some weird way it would make me angry.

Like some trigger in my mind.

You were the weak one and he was the strong. Now he is gone. And you are still here. Many times I would see him and think on that night.

Later in life and after I became a Christian, I saw him one night at Blue Ridge auto auction. I walked over to him and talked to him about my dad, and about his health, and just general stuff. He said you know we are all just human with our own set of problems to overcome. No one truly knows the experience of another human being.

We all walk alone.

On the way home that night I had a thought that has stuck with me ever since. I will never “look down” on anyone. Not even with “good intentions” will I judge someone else’s walk. I am certain my dad meant nothing by his comment. I am certain he was only trying to motivate me to be more grateful.

But since that day when I pass by someone in a wheelchair or disability I will smile, and shake their hand, and be as nice as I am to anyone else.

But I will not treat them any differently, or with more or less respect than anyone else. They are on their walk and I am on mine.

And who knows…it might be them who are here one day long after I am gone.

Ecclesiastes 5: 8-9

8 If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.
9 Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.

Letting go of the why…

A few weeks ago, my mom said she found a lump in her breast. She went to the doctors to do some tests and then called us all over last Wednesday to talk about the results.

On the way over my mind couldn’t help but to wander back to the last time I got called “over” with this sort of news. It was the worst case scenario. My dad received a death sentence when they diagnosed him.

So when she said it was stage 1 and the prognosis was good I think I may have appeared a little nonchalant. I wish I would have shown more emotion to her and my sisters. I wish I would have cried. I guess in my mind of all the possible outcomes I was walking into this was the best one. Her outpatient surgery is October 4. They are very optimistic.

Over the years I have written much about cancer and it’s affects on our lives.

I have howled at the moon, I have walked barefoot into the wind, and I have stood with cliched fists raised at the sky. I have felt it’s sting in the bosom of my soul. I have seen good men and women go way to soon. Every day I hear about someone new that this disease touches.

Yet I know that each and every time cancer flows to this place God has allowed it. He either allows or appoints all things on this earth. I know this in my heart, and I know it to be true in His Word. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Because it creates the question of why?

If there was one thing I could share with anyone that is going through this battle it is this. Over time you must learn to leave that question at Jesus feet. You are not strong enough to carry it. Watching 90 year old cancer patients getting better as the one you love dies in front of you will eat you up inside.

You are not strong enough for the why.

You have to condition your mind not to even ask the question. It is a Pandora’s box, and one I think God accurately points out to Job. (Job 38-42)

We do not have the right to have all the answers that God possesses. Because unless you know the reason for each and every thing that happens on earth it will never all make sense to you.

So trust is more important than knowledge.
Faith is greater than sight at this point in our existence.
That does not make it an easy assignment.

So what do we do when we find ourselves in the company of cancer?
We storm the gates of heaven with prayer.
We cry out to God and seek His will in the matter.
We love on those affected.
We love on their families.
We serve them with our hearts instead of our minds.

And we find a way to leave the question of why behind.

In my time here on earth and through all the things I have tried there is only one remedy for that. And that is Jesus.

He is the only one big enough for your why…

Psalm 143: 8

8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

The Short Stop…

I think I was about twelve years old when the idea of my own mortality hit me. And it was a thought like I had never had before. An unwanted intruder onto the peace of my heart that came late one night. It was a thought that stole a part of my innocence and ushered in the age of accountability.

One day you will not be here anymore.

One day you will die.

And then my flesh cried out to me… will anyone 100 years from now even know your name?

It was a deep sinking feeling that came over me. An inception of a thought so deep that I believe it has ran its course in my heart even up until this day.

Will they remember your name?

A thought born of flesh, pertaining to flesh.

In my teenage years I began to search for things that made me stand out. How can you make a name for yourself if you don’t stand out?? So I looked to sports and extra curricular activities. I was a decent golfer, but I wasn’t even the best player in my group. So there wasn’t much future there.

But pool… It was different. It gave me outside validation I did not have to ask for. I did not have to convince myself I was good. Everyone around me told me so.

I still remember the first time one of the old timers at the Cue Club took me to the side. He said, “Son you are going to be a world-beater one day.” I think I was about seventeen at the time.

I liked how that felt.

Having a gift that no one else around me seemed to have. It made me stand out. I thought at the time… this is the thing. This will be the thing that they remember me for. I will carry this as far as I can go.

Yes I loved the game. But on a deeper level it was more about the inception of that thought. Making my mark on this world. I thought at the time… this is my best shot at making them remember my name.

As I aged and moved from the Cartersville area down to Atlanta, I began to get more and more validation. My circle grew as I explored and tested my skills against those in bigger and better places.

Yet as I got nearer and nearer the top of the food chain in the pool world I was hit with a real world truth. My talent was not quite good enough. My mark faded, and over the years my pool career did also. Being the best in town or even being one the best in Georgia wasn’t enough to make a dent on the world stage. In the end I was labeled a short-stop. Or one who almost had enough talent. I wasn’t quite there.

At this point in my life no one barely remembers me playing pool at all. And that is fine. This post isn’t about that life.

It’s about the thoughts of a scared little boy. That inception of a thought that I have carried for most of my life.

After I got saved God laid it on my heart to start writing devotions on my wall. Usually in the mornings after I read my Bible I will write. Sometimes I share, others I do not.

Last week I posted a picture of a fortune cookie and it said something about writing a book. Most people that know me well enough realize I was just poking fun at myself. Of course I would like to write books one day, but who knows how and when that could ever happen. But at the same time it got me thinking and examining the motives of my own heart. And that is what led to this post.

Why do you write?
Why do you share?
Are you simply still trying to make a mark in this world??
Are you simply still looking for validation only your Father in heaven can give?

It’s funny because Saturday morning I was praying in the shower when God hit me with something pretty profound. He said why do you worry so much about what you are leaving behind? Why are you not focused on what lies ahead? I then felt the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear..

“The people you meet in heaven because of the exercise of your gifts will forever outweigh the remnants of what you have left behind while on this earth. Write a book, do not write a book. But keep in mind the deepest reasons for why you do so.”

Maybe my writing, like my pool career will never be good enough to make it to the top. Maybe I am a short-stop writer, lol. Really it’s ok. God has blessed me with way more than I ever deserved. The grace He has shown me through my spiritual growth is undeniable.

But what I do think is more important than any of that is motive.

I know how deceitfully wicked my heart can be. I have been at the center of the stage with all eyes focused on me. I know the allure and intoxicating feel of people “knowing your name”.

I know what it feels like to seek attention of others to validate what you are doing.

But my focus as a Christian should always be to bring attention to the Father. To bring glory to my savior Jesus Christ and all He has done. It is a fine line between proclaiming Christ and proclaiming oneself.

My heart is to navigate it nobly.

1000 Years on the river Jordan…

I was praying the other day and thinking on some things when something struck me. Genuinely in my heart there are people that I wish I got to spend more time with. People that have moved on out of my life, and people that I have moved on from. People that simply run in different circles.

Sometimes I miss them.

As I sat in silence I felt God ask me… why?? Are you not certain I have you where I want you?

And then He opened up a thought that I had never considered. He said when you get to heaven, why don’t you spend 1000 years on the banks of the river Jordan getting to know __? (there are many on my mind today, to list one would detract from the others)

He said and when you are there, there will be no awkward silences.
There will be no wondering if you are saying or doing the right thing.
Just pure fellowship and desire to fully know one another.
There you will be known as you are known here, but so much more. Sitting on the banks of the river Jordan with a cool breeze in your hair and not a care in the world.

You will be home.

When we think about it, the kingdom of heaven is a vast place in an inconceivable amount of time. We cannot fully fathom it. I mean how do you perceive perfection in an imperfect mind?

But if we can try to look at our lives from an eternal perspective we can set things straight about who we are and what we are called to do. The mission of telling the world about Jesus Christ has to trump our feelings about where we are in the world in this moment. About who has been called to another ministry. Or why they left. Or why you left.

Of course as Christians we should seek fellowship with other believers.
We should seek times of encouragement. We should seek strong ties.
We need our brothers and sisters to lean on and lift us up!!

Yet I believe a lot of us carry this weight or guilt when we get called away, or when they get called away from us. Our emotions get the best of us.

But it should not be this way. We should not grieve temporary assignments when we have God’s assurance that we will all be in His permanent residence one day.

So let us not think on the things that grieve us about our mission, yet let us look at our lives through the spectrum of eternity and what is to come.

1 Corinthians 13:12

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Jesus… king of all time zones

Just a book??

I get in a lot of conversations about the Bible. Reasoning with people who are non believers helps me study about my beliefs and strengthen my faith by studying the Word of God. As Christians we should not shy away from conversations simply because they make us uncomfortable. We should try our best to rely on the Holy Spirit to say what needs to be said. It should never be about “winning arguments” though.

And I realize there are things about faith I can never put into words. Or explain. Because not everything that God does is rational to the human mind.

But there are some things that you see in the word that make you think wow!! GOD had it right way before man ever did.

At the end of the book of Matthew, written some 2000 years ago, Jesus tells us that He will return to the earth one day.

Matthew 24: 27

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

So it will be instantaneous. It will happen as a surprise and catch many “off guard” so to speak. Let’s read further about how it will happen…

Luke 17: 34-36

34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

So where am I going with all this??

Jesus comes back in an instant.

Three different sets of people are talked about here and they are all in different parts of their day. Some are asleep. Some are grinding their morning meal, and others are out working in the field.

Who told the writers of Matthew and Luke that there was a thing such as time zones 2000 years ago?? Would not everybody from that time period have agreed that the world was flat and we were all under the sun at the same time? Without the technology that was yet to be developed how could they understand that the people of the earth were not all experiencing time, at the same time??

Who told the writer that something could happen in an instant yet affect people differently because of where they were situated on the earth???

Jesus God did… through Jesus’ own words!

The problem with being Lot…

There are many interesting accounts of human history in the Bible. It is full of fallen men and how they lived their lives. Most are simply a warning to us. And I believe to show us how little the heart of man has changed throughout time.

These verses tell us a lot, about Lot…

Genesis 13:10,12

10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

One of the first thing’s the Bible tells us about Lot, was that he “lifted his eyes up.”

The pride of life.. what he saw, he wanted. And then the Bible tells us, He pitched his tent toward Sodom.

In modern day terms that would be like saying, he wanted to be close, “to the action”.

Sodom was a happening place! But it was here that this man of faith lost everything. Because eventually this place drew him in, and nullified his witness.

By the time it got bad enough for God to destroy the place, Lot had made peace with it. He was perfectly happy living there. As a matter of fact when the angels came the Bible tells us that Lot was waiting for them at the gate of the city.

You think he was really concerned about God’s mission?? Or was he preoccupied with preserving his own way of life?

He told the angels of the Lord that it wasn’t as bad as they thought. Which immediately was proven false as the people’s unbridled sin crashed down around them. The men of the city had rushed to his door to demand relations with the Angels of the Lord.

Lot’s prescription for this?? He decided to offer up his two daughters instead.

How disgusting. How could he??

But I believe it was for a different purpose than most think. It had nothing to do with their value as women or daughters.

Even as a lukewarm believer he knew who the Angels were. He knew the mission they were on. They were here to destroy the city. His faith had hit an intersection with his lifestyle. And this was the wreck that had ensued.

I believe he was so enamored by his way of life that he would have bartered anything to preserve it.

In the world today, we are living in the new Sodom. And internet and tv are the new Gomorrah. We make peace with them as we quietly offer up our sons and daughters to preserve our way of life. To not “rock the boat” when we see something not quite right.

How many times have we clicked or gone to, or allowed our children to watch things we know they shouldn’t??

I mean that was a great movie!! But that one part.. I mean why did they put it in there? Simple.

To condition you.
To test you.
To see if you would allow those little eyes and ears you say you worry so much about to partake in it.

We will stand in line for hours for a flu shot or a physical need. And then hand our children supercomputers and never bat an eye. Never think about what they are looking at.

It’s sodom.. Inching in closer to our most prized possessions. Satan is a conquerer who moves a millimeter at a time. He knows my soul is secure but if he can lull me to sleep my children will be the next best thing.

Yes, I realize there is grace!! But I find myself being too good a lawyer with God these days. So occupied by my own agenda that grace gets cheapened and trampled underfoot.

We are always justifying ourselves and our ways before Him.

I believe one day we will be so close to Sodom that our children won’t be able to see the difference between us and them. And then in one solemn moment the answer will occur to them… Why be us (Christian’s) at all??

I realize this is a harsh message. But in my opinion the American Christian has made peace with this world, and we are serving our children up to it on a silver platter.

The symptoms will keep getting worse until we either do something, or fade out into the sunset. Face it, no one looks forward to heaven. We are all to busy wrapped up in our lives down here.

We read about Lot and wonder how could he…As we sit and do the same thing on a different level.

So what is the problem with being Lot??

Nothing…. for him.

No Expectations…

I have been taking some discipleship courses online. Something one of the instructors said has been rolling around in my gut for a few days now. He said, “We are all called to be servants of Christ… and a servant has no expectations.”

On the surface it seems to be a stark contrast of… well God has a wonderful plan for your life! Or any of the other common American Christianity myths we seem to try to sell these days.

If I look back at a lot of the heartbreak of my life. Some would boil down to this simple thing. Me… placing a load of expectations on someone. Only to have the rug pulled out in front of me, or to be let down in some way. But why?? Because I had placed a host of unrealistic expectations on them.

At times without them even knowing it!

And it’s not that we shouldn’t hold people accountable. By all means yes… let’s all be accountable and work together for the good of Christ!!

But we cannot let our trust, nor our expectations of our fellow man surpass the trust we have in Jesus Christ. Or the trust we have in HIS Word.

People will let you down.

People will hurt you.

But as a Christian your expectations of them are not to be source of your strength or happiness. If they fall or let you down…go to them with a servants heart. Be close enough to the people around you that they will want to talk to you and open up about their problems.

And I think the funny thing is… if we can learn to take the load off those around us with all our expectations, instead of letting us down all the time they may start to surprise us.

We may start to see all the ways that they shine.

So keep low expectations of your fellow man, and high expectations on Christ. He alone is the supplier of the contentment we can find in our lives here on earth.

He alone is the source of our strength and happiness.

2 Corinthians 3:4-6

4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life

Exhortations…

In the Dominican we were having a conversation at the dinner table about what makes people do what they do. Lori allred mentioned to me that we usually display reciprocal traits. Or to put it more plainly…We love others, how we want to be loved.

I laughed and said, so I am always patting people on the back because I am looking for one myself?? We just chuckled and the conversation moved on.

She does not know me well enough to realize that I wasn’t offended by where the conversation turned. On the contrary, I probably do resemble that remark. It got me to thinking about what makes me who I am.

In the past eight years there has been a lot of self introspection. A lot of looking back trying to learn. Not becuase I want to focus on the past. But only becuase I do not want to repeat it.

I want to preface what i am about to say by noting that we are all accountable for our own actions. We have predispositions and quirks of character that are based on past experiences, yet in the end it is we who choose how we let those manifest. I do believe without much self reflection and prayer you are more likely to simply go in the direction you are pushed.

It is no secret that my dad and I never had the relationship either of us wanted. There was this power struggle that never seemed to stop. He had this idea of who he wanted me to be. But I was never interested in that. In my early twenties pool had came along and I was enamored by the glamour of living life on the road. With taking off and seeing how far I could go.

I wanted to see how far I could fly.

It was a huge thorn in his side and we had many arguments about it. He couldn’t stand the choices I was making and to he honest some of them were simply to spite him. But I did have this gift. I could play pool. I asked him many times… why dad, why would God give me this gift if he didnt want me to use it?

He could not answer that.

All he could see was the pool room and the trappings that came along with it.

I wanted to show him that for me it was totally different. Playing pool for me was like creating a work of art. To look out over the table and just know how it was all going to play out. I could literally see where each of the balls would go before I even made the first shot. It was a powerful feeling coming to the table and knowing that you were in control. Knowing your opponent could not win unless you faltered.

I was really good at something, and everyone seemed to be enamored by that fact but him. I desperately fought for his approval through the game of pool that I never got.

I mean he tried. He really did. He came to see me a few times the year before he died. But it was always with a sense of caution. Never letting on to me whether he was pleased or not. I know the lifestyle I was leading and one of a gambler was one he despised. I know the way I went about trying to get his attention was the wrong way.

His approval. I wanted it so bad. But I wanted it my way. On my terms. That pat on the back telling me I was good. Telling me that I was worthy of his love.

By the time he got sick it was all such a mess. Yes I had come back to work for him and I am grateful for that, but it was still out of sorts. All the junk was still there. It never really ever seemed to get resolved. I guess that is why I seem to write about him so much.

Maybe I do still reach out to him with my writing looking for that validation that I never got. Maybe it is what drives me.

But now everything is different. As a Christian I have a new Father who has a new plan for my life. A perfect one. But sometimes I want to show Him i can do it my way, and it doesn’t work. I am sure I frustrate Him at times.

But His grace. Oh how sweet it is. His mercy of who I am blows my mind. He loves me anyways.

Unlike my earthly father, I know God’s love is perfect. I do not have to strive to show Him in some alternate way. I just need to do as I am told and follow His will. Not because He doesn’t care about my gifts or talents or abilities. But because He knows what is best for me. He knows how to use them best if only I will trust Him with them.

I know why I started to write.

I was looking for that pat on the back that I never got.

But now God is calling. He is asking me to give it to Him. To use my strengths for His glory. In times and places that others need my encouragement.

People tell me I have a way with words. People tell me I should write a book. People tell me i should be something more than just a salesman.

But if I go a seeking their attention in the same twisted way that I did my fathers then it will never work.

I have to give my gifts and talents and abilities to God and let Him steer the ship of my life. And when the time is right, and when He feels like I am ready to accept the responsibility that comes along with it, He will bless them. In His way. What that looks like only He knows.

It may be a book one day. It might just be that I can finally be the role model that my kids need me to be. His plans for my life may be grandiose or they may just be simple. Whatever it looks like, it will always be better with Him at the healm of the story.

I have found the love of God. I cannot explain how good He is to me even

when I do not deserve it. I understand now to rest in Him is the only pathway to peace.

What that looks like in my life is to submit myself and my gifts at His altar and let Him handle the rest.

Moments of Mercy…

I came to Christ seven years ago and what a journey it has been. When I get out of whack I know it is when God is trying to teach me something.

There have been times in the past few years…when I have looked at this world through judgmental eyes. When I have put people in boxes of unforgiveness.

God has been dealing with me a lot about it this year.

Making me realize the depth of my own sinfulness. Even now. O wretched man that I am.

But it’s all to teach a valuable lesson. To grow I must see how gracious and merciful God has been in my life, so I can share that with others.

God is sovereign. He either allows or appoints every interaction in our lives. I realize now that He could have allowed things to go one way or another many times.

There is a moment God has been bringing to my mind lately. It is nothing I am proud of, or really even want to share. But God has laid it on my heart. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

It was seventeen years ago, and in the darkest days of my life. After the death of my father, my family had been broken. But instead of finding solace in them or God…I chose to go out and deal with it on my own. I took off chasing a dream of becoming a professional pool player, but the biggest part of it was escaping the reality of the pain I was in.

During that time I had gotten involved with some pretty unsavory characters. For the longest I was the guy that would never take anything to “help” my game. But one night after playing twenty hours straight a guy offered me adderal, a stimulant, to help keep me awake. It wasn’t long before that turned into doing other speed pills and then cocaine. Within a few months I was not only doing drugs, I was selling them.

Was I some thug or gangster??? Of course not. But I knew enough people, in enough places that lived the party lifestyle to pay my way and survive. And to finance my own growing problem.

It is funny when you are “in the life” you don’t even see the problem with having a $100 a day cocaine habit.

There was this one night that I can remember very vividly. It was the closest I ever came to going to jail for a life-altering period of time.

I was at a 24 hour pool room and it is 4:30 in the morning. I was exhausted and wanted to get back to my apartment down by Cumberland Mall.

I go to my car and pull to the edge of the parking lot. Pulling out was a four lane highway which is Wade-Green road. In the dead of night there was but one single car in either direction. I waited patiently as it approached…

A sheriff.

When I saw him it literally took my breath away. I turned down the radio to gather my thoughts. He looked me right in the eyes as he drove by. I felt his concern.

It just so happens in the trunk of my car is a shoe box full of cocaine. The icing on the cake is the .380 I have under the seat. I knew that if I got pulled over it was a certainty I was going to jail for a very long time.

As a matter of fact I already knew the sentence.

10 years mandatory for being pulled over with a gun and a trafficking charge hung in the balance.

My mind raced. Paranoid. Delusional. I knew that I couldn’t just sit there. I had to go. With no cars on the road there is no legitimate reason I would not pull out.

So I waited… at least as long as I thought I could. Until he was almost out of sight down the straightaway.

And then I eased out, and to the right. Because of the police presence on that stretch, I used to call it “the gauntlet.” It was about two miles between the place and the interstate.

I was about to run the gauntlet for the next ten years of my life.

Slowly I accelerated and got up to the speed limit. I could still see him in my horizon, so I slowed to about 5 mph below the limit as I made my way toward the interstate.

But somehow I was still gaining on him. By this time my heart began to beat out of my chest.

What have I done! Surely he’s going to pull me over. Every inch of the road seemed like a mile.

Moments crawled by it seemed as little by little I got closer to I-75. And the more I closed in on him.

If the interstate would have been another 1000 feet I would have overtaken him.

And then it happened.

At the exact same second that I put on my blinker…. he slammed on his brakes. I mean exactly. A perfectly precise moment where he couldn’t possibly have thought my action was a reaction to his.

There he was stopped all alone on the bridge going over I-75 on Wade Green waiting for me.

It was a moment I will remember for a lifetime.

Time had stopped… but my car kept going. The perfect move had been made at the perfect time. I glided to the right and down the ramp.

It was then that I saw him kick it. And I did too. I got up to seventy and got down the interstate as fast as I could. Fully expecting at any time to see those blue lights in my mirror. I knew he was coming. Judgment was coming.

It was what I deserved.

But it never happened. I never saw him again. I got home safely and it was over.

So why on earth would I ever share such a story?

I think God has been bringing it back to my mind. That moment of mercy that I received.

In His sovereignty still in control of even a worthless sinner’s destiny. He gave me mercy that night instead of judgment.

But the reality is.

Only God has that right.

Only He can decide who deserves judgment. Certainly he has tools to accomplish these things. That sheriff had every right to pull me over and throw me in jail.

But God showed me mercy.

And in the span of eternity and God’s time I am only five seconds away from the man I was that night.

Yes as a Christian I am now a new creation!! I am born again.

But without God’s goodness, and His grace, and His mercy of this sinful condition I am in, I am nothing.

So I have been prayerfully asking God…why do you keep bringing me back to this moment??

I believe the answer is simple.

It’s not because He wants me to dwell on it. Or to live in the past. But it’s a lesson I just can’t seem to learn any other way. So He took me back to a moment I don’t ever want to remember, let alone talk about it to make me understand one simple truth.

I do not need your judgment.

I do not need your snide comments about people that are lost and dying and going to Hell.

Not from you.

Give them grace and mercy and forgiveness to become something better than even they could ever imagine.

Tell them about my goodness.

And love them, like I loved you.

When you were unloveable.

Romans 5:8

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died fMercy…

I came to Christ seven years ago and what a journey it has been. When I get out of whack I know it is when God is trying to teach me something.

There have been times in the past few years…when I have looked at this world through judgmental eyes. When I have put people in boxes of unforgiveness.

God has been dealing with me a lot about it this year.

Making me realize the depth of my own sinfulness. Even now. O wretched man that I am.

But it’s all to teach a valuable lesson. To grow I must see how gracious and merciful God has been in my life, so I can share that with others.

God is sovereign. He either allows or appoints every interaction in our lives. I realize now that He could have allowed things to go one way or another many times.

There is a moment God has been bringing to my mind lately. It is nothing I am proud of, or really even want to share. But God has laid it on my heart. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

It was seventeen years ago, and in the darkest days of my life. After the death of my father, my family had been broken. But instead of finding solace in them or God…I chose to go out and deal with it on my own. I took off chasing a dream of becoming a professional pool player, but the biggest part of it was escaping the reality of the pain I was in.

During that time I had gotten involved with some pretty unsavory characters. For the longest I was the guy that would never take anything to “help” my game. But one night after playing twenty hours straight a guy offered me adderal, a stimulant, to help keep me awake. It wasn’t long before that turned into doing other speed pills and then cocaine. Within a few months I was not only doing drugs, I was selling them.

Was I some thug or gangster??? Of course not. But I knew enough people, in enough places that lived the party lifestyle to pay my way and survive. And to finance my own growing problem.

It is funny when you are “in the life” you don’t even see the problem with having a $100 a day cocaine habit.

There was this one night that I can remember very vividly. It was the closest I ever came to going to jail for a life-altering period of time.

I was at a 24 hour pool room and it is 4:30 in the morning. I was exhausted and wanted to get back to my apartment down by Cumberland Mall.

I go to my car and pull to the edge of the parking lot. Pulling out was a four lane highway which is Wade-Green road. In the dead of night there was but one single car in either direction. I waited patiently as it approached…

A sheriff.

When I saw him it literally took my breath away. I turned down the radio to gather my thoughts. He looked me right in the eyes as he drove by. I felt his concern.

It just so happens in the trunk of my car is a shoe box full of cocaine. The icing on the cake is the .380 I have under the seat. I knew that if I got pulled over it was a certainty I was going to jail for a very long time.

As a matter of fact I already knew the sentence.

10 years mandatory for being pulled over with a gun and a trafficking charge hung in the balance.

My mind raced. Paranoid. Delusional. I knew that I couldn’t just sit there. I had to go. With no cars on the road there is no legitimate reason I would not pull out.

So I waited… at least as long as I thought I could. Until he was almost out of sight down the straightaway.

And then I eased out, and to the right. Because of the police presence on that stretch, I used to call it “the gauntlet.” It was about two miles between the place and the interstate.

I was about to run the gauntlet for the next ten years of my life.

Slowly I accelerated and got up to the speed limit. I could still see him in my horizon, so I slowed to about 5 mph below the limit as I made my way toward the interstate.

But somehow I was still gaining on him. By this time my heart began to beat out of my chest.

What have I done! Surely he’s going to pull me over. Every inch of the road seemed like a mile.

Moments crawled by it seemed as little by little I got closer to I-75. And the more I closed in on him.

If the interstate would have been another 1000 feet I would have overtaken him.

And then it happened.

At the exact same second that I put on my blinker…. he slammed on his brakes. I mean exactly. A perfectly precise moment where he couldn’t possibly have thought my action was a reaction to his.

There he was stopped all alone on the bridge going over I-75 on Wade Green waiting for me.

It was a moment I will remember for a lifetime.

Time had stopped… but my car kept going. The perfect move had been made at the perfect time. I glided to the right and down the ramp.

It was then that I saw him kick it. And I did too. I got up to seventy and got down the interstate as fast as I could. Fully expecting at any time to see those blue lights in my mirror. I knew he was coming. Judgment was coming.

It was what I deserved.

But it never happened. I never saw him again. I got home safely and it was over.

So why on earth would I ever share such a story?

I think God has been bringing it back to my mind. That moment of mercy that I received.

In His sovereignty still in control of even a worthless sinner’s destiny. He gave me mercy that night instead of judgment.

But the reality is.

Only God has that right.

Only He can decide who deserves judgment. Certainly he has tools to accomplish these things. That sheriff had every right to pull me over and throw me in jail.

But God showed me mercy.

And in the span of eternity and God’s time I am only five seconds away from the man I was that night.

Yes as a Christian I am now a new creation!! I am born again.

But without God’s goodness, and His grace, and His mercy of this sinful condition I am in, I am nothing.

So I have been prayerfully asking God…why do you keep bringing me back to this moment??

I believe the answer is simple.

It’s not because He wants me to dwell on it. Or to live in the past. But it’s a lesson I just can’t seem to learn any other way. So He took me back to a moment I don’t ever want to remember, let alone talk about it to make me understand one simple truth.

I do not need your judgment.

I do not need your snide comments about people that are lost and dying and going to Hell.

Not from you.

Give them grace and mercy and forgiveness to become something better than even they could ever imagine.

Tell them about my goodness.

And love them, like I loved you.

When you were unloveable.

Romans 5:8

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

I came to Christ seven years ago and what a journey it has been. When I get out of whack I know it is when God is trying to teach me something.

There have been times in the past few years…when I have looked at this world through judgmental eyes. When I have put people in boxes of unforgiveness.

God has been dealing with me a lot about it this year.

Making me realize the depth of my own sinfulness. Even now. O wretched man that I am.

But it’s all to teach a valuable lesson. To grow I must see how gracious and merciful God has been in my life, so I can share that with others.

God is sovereign. He either allows or appoints every interaction in our lives. I realize now that He could have allowed things to go one way or another many times.

There is a moment God has been bringing to my mind lately. It is nothing I am proud of, or really even want to share. But God has laid it on my heart. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

It was seventeen years ago, and in the darkest days of my life. After the death of my father, my family had been broken. But instead of finding solace in them or God…I chose to go out and deal with it on my own. I took off chasing a dream of becoming a professional pool player, but the biggest part of it was escaping the reality of the pain I was in.

During that time I had gotten involved with some pretty unsavory characters. For the longest I was the guy that would never take anything to “help” my game. But one night after playing twenty hours straight a guy offered me adderal, a stimulant, to help keep me awake. It wasn’t long before that turned into doing other speed pills and then cocaine. Within a few months I was not only doing drugs, I was selling them.

Was I some thug or gangster??? Of course not. But I knew enough people, in enough places that lived the party lifestyle to pay my way and survive. And to finance my own growing problem.

It is funny when you are “in the life” you don’t even see the problem with having a $100 a day cocaine habit.

There was this one night that I can remember very vividly. It was the closest I ever came to going to jail for a life-altering period of time.

I was at a 24 hour pool room and it is 4:30 in the morning. I was exhausted and wanted to get back to my apartment down by Cumberland Mall.

I go to my car and pull to the edge of the parking lot. Pulling out was a four lane highway which is Wade-Green road. In the dead of night there was but one single car in either direction. I waited patiently as it approached…

A sheriff.

When I saw him it literally took my breath away. I turned down the radio to gather my thoughts. He looked me right in the eyes as he drove by. I felt his concern.

It just so happens in the trunk of my car is a shoe box full of cocaine. The icing on the cake is the .380 I have under the seat. I knew that if I got pulled over it was a certainty I was going to jail for a very long time.

As a matter of fact I already knew the sentence.

10 years mandatory for being pulled over with a gun and a trafficking charge hung in the balance.

My mind raced. Paranoid. Delusional. I knew that I couldn’t just sit there. I had to go. With no cars on the road there is no legitimate reason I would not pull out.

So I waited… at least as long as I thought I could. Until he was almost out of sight down the straightaway.

And then I eased out, and to the right. Because of the police presence on that stretch, I used to call it “the gauntlet.” It was about two miles between the place and the interstate.

I was about to run the gauntlet for the next ten years of my life.

Slowly I accelerated and got up to the speed limit. I could still see him in my horizon, so I slowed to about 5 mph below the limit as I made my way toward the interstate.

But somehow I was still gaining on him. By this time my heart began to beat out of my chest.

What have I done! Surely he’s going to pull me over. Every inch of the road seemed like a mile.

Moments crawled by it seemed as little by little I got closer to I-75. And the more I closed in on him.

If the interstate would have been another 1000 feet I would have overtaken him.

And then it happened.

At the exact same second that I put on my blinker…. he slammed on his brakes. I mean exactly. A perfectly precise moment where he couldn’t possibly have thought my action was a reaction to his.

There he was stopped all alone on the bridge going over I-75 on Wade Green waiting for me.

It was a moment I will remember for a lifetime.

Time had stopped… but my car kept going. The perfect move had been made at the perfect time. I glided to the right and down the ramp.

It was then that I saw him kick it. And I did too. I got up to seventy and got down the interstate as fast as I could. Fully expecting at any time to see those blue lights in my mirror. I knew he was coming. Judgment was coming.

It was what I deserved.

But it never happened. I never saw him again. I got home safely and it was over.

So why on earth would I ever share such a story?

I think God has been bringing it back to my mind. That moment of mercy that I received.

In His sovereignty still in control of even a worthless sinner’s destiny. He gave me mercy that night instead of judgment.

But the reality is.

Only God has that right.

Only He can decide who deserves judgment. Certainly he has tools to accomplish these things. That sheriff had every right to pull me over and throw me in jail.

But God showed me mercy.

And in the span of eternity and God’s time I am only five seconds away from the man I was that night.

Yes as a Christian I am now a new creation!! I am born again.

But without God’s goodness, and His grace, and His mercy of this sinful condition I am in, I am nothing.

So I have been prayerfully asking God…why do you keep bringing me back to this moment??

I believe the answer is simple.

It’s not because He wants me to dwell on it. Or to live in the past. But it’s a lesson I just can’t seem to learn any other way. So He took me back to a moment I don’t ever want to remember, let alone talk about it to make me understand one simple truth.

I do not need your judgment.

I do not need your snide comments about people that are lost and dying and going to Hell.

Not from you.

Give them grace and mercy and forgiveness to become something better than even they could ever imagine.

Tell them about my goodness.

And love them, like I loved you.

When you were unloveable.

Romans 5:8

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑