God has plan for us. He will use each experience, mistake, disaster and wonder to mold us into the person we are designed to be. No matter how far we try to run, he will always put us on the right path…no matter what it takes! He is patient, he is kind, and loves each and every one of us.
I grew up going to the Catholic Church. As a child, I felt that I was forced to go each Sunday. I slowly became resentful that I had to go to church, and soon it became a burden. Once I left home, I stop going to church altogether. I spent most of my young adult life trying to find something to fit into the empty space in my heart; a space that belonged to God. I filled it with sex, alcohol, work, video games, and relationships, all of which cost me my values.
In 2009, I got in an accident that changed everything. I was riding a 4-wheeler in Bush Louisiana. The precursor to it all was first losing control and going through branches of a pine tree. But, not think much of it, I continued on. I got more confident and went faster…until I lost control and headed for a barbed wire fence. As I braced for the impact, I remember aiming for the t-post hoping to knock it down. The next memory is getting up and thinking “I hear my breath coming from the wrong spot”. I saw my friend racing towards me, yelling at me to get down on the ground as he called 911. I was quickly transported to the nearest hospital, where they packed my wound and then sent me to the University Hospital in New Orleans. There were some amazing “coincidences” during the accident, which could have only been from God; with the location of the accident, the overwhelming and rapid response from the first responders, and the barbed wire “jumping over” and missing both of my major arteries, there was no shortage of miracles. I lost so much blood in the field, it was surprising I survived. In addition, one of the top ENT surgeons just happened to be in town for a conference and was able to perform the delicate surgery to reconstruct my throat. While I was in the hospital I received a lot of mail sent from all over. Family, friends, and others that I did not know, wrote informing me that they were all praying for me. It was overwhelming to find that all of these people, most that I did not know, were praying; strength in faith…I mean WOW! Just writing this gives me a sense of awe, of the power that is above. Additionally, I heard from my uncle that my deceased great aunt said “baby boy in trouble “right when the accident happened! Within Five weeks, I was up on my feet ready to face the world anew.
When I got home from the accident, I tried to find a church. I went to a few of the bigger churches, but just could not connect; they felt so impersonal. I got to the point that I was falling back into my old ways….until Terracina.
Moving to Terracina was the trail head marker that put me back on the path to God. My guides? A wonderful community of people starting with Donnie and Aubrey. I first met these two, sitting on a table in front my apartment where they were reading the bible together. That table would become a meaningful meeting place that defined our block for the year to come. We had many conversations either at that table, or sitting on the stairs in front of the apartment. The true moment came when Aubrey , myself, and my roommate were all talking about God, sitting on our steps. We talked for a long while. Before leaving, Aubrey invited us to come to her church. She handed my roommate a book about a scholar of Christ that we had been discussing. I remember on the back of that book that there was a quote, “you will be handed this book at midnight”. The time, 1200am on the nose, gave us the chills. The next day was Sunday, so I joined Aubrey and headed for church.
The first impression, when I saw that we were meeting in a room at a Hotel, was “oh God did I find a cult”?! But instead I met a group of people and a young, enthusiastic pastor that would forever change my life. From the start I felt welcomed. Brannen, the pastor, really moved me with his sermons. For the first time I felt convicted, like this was how church was supposed to be. Little did I know how much Brannen would be an integral pivot point in my life that would lead me back to God.
Origin’s, while small, was truly a church defined by the people that congregated, not the building in which it took place. It was filled with young lives, involved and excited about God. We were a smaller group which made it easier to keep in touch with each other; not only did we do church together, we did life together. At the heart of this was Brannen, a man that I will always respect; a leader, a teacher, and a supporter. I quickly found myself in Aubrey’s community group and was baptized in the Terracina pool (Donnie Stopa presiding!). Through this church I met my wife and found myself serving in children’s ministry for the first time.
Then the next chapter in my church life was the merging of Crossroads and Origins. Crossroads was a new church with a new set of personal challenges for me overcome. For a while I struggled in finding my way; finding a place to fit. I started to work in the children’s ministry, but soon found it was too difficult to keep it up due to a crazy work schedule. Once again, if it wasn’t for Brannen staying on my butt, I would have probably slipped away. For a year it went on like this. I went to church when I could but never felt like I was really able to participate the way I wanted to. But alas, God had other plans for me; I found myself listening to Joel Osteen on the radio each day while at work. Through him, God was reenergizing me. Joel spoke on favors; favors that are stored up through prayer and serving. I felt like God was really speaking to me and calling me back into the Children’s Ministry. I then found that my work schedule had evened out and I had every Sunday off. Now you will find me helping in Children’s Ministry each Sunday, knowing that this is something God has called me to do.
Most recently I felt God calling me to listen to an audio book War Room. Listening to this audio version, I was compelled to get the book The Battle Plan for Prayer. This book is designed to help anyone become a powerful person of prayer. It taught me the importance, mindset, and fundamentals of how and when to pray. I start off each morning on my knees, reading a chapter and referring to it throughout the day.
Things haven’t always been easy in my life. The events in my life, the people I have met, and the friends that have crossed my life; All these things haven’t happened by accident, but have happened for a reason. God always has a plan. Looking back I see how each of these experiences have changed me; made me into a person that is continually growing into the person God has called for me to be. While I will continue to stumble and fall, I know that these will be the trials that will get me closer to God. The way towards God is won not by sprinting, but taking one step at a time.