Through All Of It

This month will mark 6 years I have been writing this blog. That seems almost impossible to me as I never was able to finish anything I started, let alone sustain something like this for that long. Yet here I am. And while the posts may not come as frequently as they used too, I often go back and read them and watch the roller coaster ride my life was taking in the first couple of years, and how it has stabilized over time since then. And as we approach next week's 72 month mark on my personal journal, it was only recently that I have begun to discover why it has come this far. Its a cool story, and I hope you will continue to read while I tell it.

I will begin by telling you a story. Just a few days ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. He was commenting about how much change he has seen in me over the last few years. From putting down cigarettes and alcohol to losing weight to the change in me as a professional, he said that I am an inspiration to him and the people around me. And while I appreciate his kind words, I quickly pointed out that when God saw fit to put a Little Red headed girl in my life, that is when the tide turned. My friend replied that he does not believe in that kind of thing, and that he is a realist. That if he can't see it, touch it, interact with it, then it doesn't exist.

That troubled me. I wasn't sure why, and didn't tell my friend it did. I only told him that when I look at my life, when I look at this very blog and moments from the past, you can see God working for me, even when I was running from him. There were hard nights, drunken stupors, tremendously bad decisions, and venomous shouting matches with those who cared most about me. There was even a night when I stood on the shore of a lake, shouting to the heavens, demanding happiness because I did not deserve where I was standing or what I was going through at that time.

Looking back I realize it all led me to where I stand today. I could not be here if I had not been there. So when I was at rock bottom and ready to give up, he sent that friend to call me out of the blue and stop me from taking another sip. And when my words were so hurtful that anyone would have written me off, he put forgiveness in the heart of my loved ones and formed bonds that are so much stronger now than they have ever been. And that night, by the lake? That was April 3rd, 2011. The night before I met my Little Red. Coincidence? I think not.

Tiffany and I have begun attending a church here in my hometown, Gahanna. I had been a regular listener of the local Christian station, The River, for the last couple of years, and she had begun tuning in recently as well. I had suggested a couple of times that we go to church, but she had always resisted. And that was ok by me. Her reluctance to go helped me keep my "I do not need church to have faith" speech alive and well. But about 6 weeks ago God broke down that obstacle too, when she turned to me out of the blue and said "Ok, lets go to church" 

Um ok. We can try. But no pressure if it doesn't work out. Churches are stuffy and made for saints.

We decided to visit several churches til we found one that felt comfortable. The first Sunday we we went to Centerpoint Church, because it was closest to our home. We walked in, signed Tanner up for youth group, and found a seat. The music ensemble sang 3 songs we knew from listening to The River. Then the Pastor delivered the message. It was a message about belonging and community and how it is a church for sinners and how as a group we can help each other have a closer walk with God.

We left that day knowing our search was over. We had found our home church.

Back to what I was saying before, I didn't know why what my friend said troubled me. I respect people of all beliefs and always have. But today, during the message delivered by Pastor Dave, the answer became very clear. He spoke about peace, and where real peace comes from. He told us stories of peace and faith and how we as Christians have peace knowing that we are right with God. Knowing that we recognize what he is doing in our lives and the great things that happen when you let the Lord guide you. As he was speaking, I thought again about my friend. 

In the same conversation he told me about how he had been burned by so many people recently that he is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. How he is waiting for something bad to come along and blow up whatever good he has going. And I have seen it happen to him. Time and time again. From losing jobs to nearly losing his relationship with his girlfriend to other issues we have spoken about. Yet in the same breath, he is telling me that I am an inspiration to him and when I give him the reason for that, he tells me if he cannot see it, touch it, or interact with it, then it doesn't exist.

How does that make sense?

Maybe, in that moment, I should have said "Friend, if you see the change in me, then you see and interact with it everyday. More importantly, look at what you just told me. Don't you think that you interact with it there too?"

I have felt compelled to write this all day today. Yet I had determined to let it go as I am tired and really didn't know exactly how I wanted to put this post together. But when I went to pick my son up from work, I heard a song that moves me to tears every time I hear it. It is called All Of It by Colton Dixon. If you haven't heard it, do yourself a favor and click the link once you are done reading this post

One of the lyrics says "I look back and I see you" and it is talking about looking back at his life and seeing God working there, even when you didn't want him to be. When I heard that song tonight, I knew I had to get this post out of my head. Because that is exactly what I do, I see his mercies and his grace, not just in old blog posts or Facebook statuses, but on every step along the path. And I am grateful for it. 

Day # 1113. If you are reading this and do not have a church to go to for Easter Sunday, Centerpoint Gahanna will be having services at 9 and 11 am. If you come for the early one, you will see me at the door and my wife in the coffee stand. We love our home church. It is good to be me!


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