The year was 2006. The month was May. I was penniless, homeless, visionless, and directionless, my life was completely in ruins. I boarded a greyhound bus in Fayetteville, Arkansas with a ticket in hand whose destination said Dallas, Texas. A broken man, I was headed to spend some time with a friend’s ministry in an adult rehabilitation center. Eventually I would work my way up into the position of resident manager, but for the first several months I was just one of the guys. Thrown in with the other 132 men, some who were alcoholics, others drug addicts, I followed the same rules they were required to follow. I actually was no different than any of those men I was among. Assigned to a room I was the first bed among four others, and I still remember pulling the covers over my head the very first night when the lights went out and crying silently like a baby.
You honestly cannot feel what I felt unless your life has been at the bottom. I thought my life was over. Religion had taught me that once you mess your life up there really is no place for you to serve in the Kingdom of God. You are a has-been. A wash-out. God can’t take you and make something out of you again. That’s what religion teaches. If that were the case, Samson’s history would not be found the pages of the word of God. Peter would have stayed in hiding. Jabez would have never been heard of. And some of God’s greatest people would have been written off by religious circles as unfit members who no longer are needed.How grateful I am as I sat at my computer in this early hour that religion cannot and does not rule me any longer.
It is Monday morning. In seven days I will step into the pulpit of Word Alive Church of Corsicana, Texas as senior pastor. There is a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Much is riding on this step of faith.There are those who will tell you that I do not deserve this chance in my life. Others would say I am foolish. Religion will declare that I am unworthy of this. And I would have to agree with all their statements. I don’t deserve this chance of a lifetime. I am somewhat foolish at my age to undertake a huge challenge. And to be downright honest, I am unworthy. I sat about 50 miles from where I was in 2006. I have a hard time driving by the rehab center because of the memories I can still feel inside.Yet, when I am in that area I do drive by just to remind myself of the absolute, mind-boggling, overwhelming amazing grace of God that He has poured out on my life. My favorite verse in the word of God is found in the little prophetic book written by Micah. The Old Testament minor prophet, called that not because he was insignificant, but because the book that carries his name was short in length, wrote, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me”.(Micah 7:8 KJV)
As I write this blog today my heart rejoices that God would give me a second chance. That’s what grace does. That’s what I will preach to the city of which I, along with my wife have been assigned to, not by a denomination, but by the Spirit of God. That’s what I will display. Grace does not mean there are no consequences for our mistakes we make. There are. But, what grace declares is that you do not have to sit on the ash heap of life for the remainder of your days. You don’t have to live in the hog pen of doubt, discouragement, depression or despondency.
With great humility I will step into the pulpit next Sunday as a testimony of God’s great redeeming grace. I have fallen, but I also have risen again. The resurrection which Christians celebrated around the world, does not simply declare the good news that Jesus Christ is no longer dead. The resurrection to me is much more than that. It is the good news that you and I can resurrect as well. Resurrect from a ruined life. Resurrect from broken dreams. Resurrect from failed marriages. Resurrect from mistakes. Resurrect to a brand new opportunity to get it right one more time. Thank God for the resurrection, but thank God for “amazing grace how sweet the sound…”