The smell punched you in the face as you entered the bedroom. Like walking into a boy’s middle school locker room, clean air transformed into an uncomfortably warm and moist atmosphere.
Stale KFC boxes littered the floor. The greasy comfort food was the only thing that satisfied the rare times I had an appetite.
Laying in a musty blanket and matted sheets, I binged watch Dr Who til my eyes were raw from the glare of my laptop. This was my life for several months.
It didn’t matter to me that days would pass between showers. My greasy hair and stained clothes were the last things on my mind. Nothing mattered any more.
No, I wasn’t alright. I may have been a warm body but I was a dead man.
About a year earlier, I had begun to work through my greatest insecurity: masculinity. I had grown up in a city that defined masculinity in a way that I didn’t identify with. I didn’t swing hammers, play contact sports or drink. Being outside would stress me out, as I tried my best to keep nature off of me. If being a man meant being a laboring rugged outdoorsman, then I wasn’t one. And that disturbed me. So I studied what the Bible said about masculinity. What I found convicted me to my core.
My study could be summed up with a single word, “responsibility.” It was a concept that was clearly missing from my life. I was not responsible with time or money. I chased things that didn’t matter. I started seeing how my irresponsibility was impacting the ministries I was involved in, how others were paying a price for my hubris.
By the time I realized what I was doing it was too late. My choices had culminated into a failure in ministry, and deeply wounded the students I loved. I realized that I had much to learn, I did not have mastery of myself, though I a degree that represented my knowledge. I know many of the right things to do, but I did not have the discipline to carry out my plans in a timely and effective way. Armed with that knowledge, I knew God was calling me to step back from ministry for a reason and grow. So I resigned from my ministry position, moved back home and fell into a deep depression.
I knew that I needed God, I needed a miracle so I started looking. After visiting several churches I landed in a church that inspired me with their mission and heart. After a little over a month, I was approached to come on staff. I didn’t want it. At this particular junction in my life, I wasn’t mad at God, but I was furious with myself. I felt broken beyond repair, like a mirror shattered at sea. I didn’t felt like I deserved it and frankly it felt like a betrayal to church I just resigned from, so I declined.
I was approached again one month later but this time something felt different. So I said I would pray about it. I communicated my reserves and was met with love and direction. I was told that I simply needed mentoring. This was back in 2012. July marks the beginning of my fifth year with Valley Christian Fellowship, and I am truly not the same person that arrived. Many people who know me today can hardly believe the story because things are so different for me now. That is because God reintroduced me to Jesus through Valley.
I am still learning and growing, but I have experienced redemption and restoration in a very personal way. On a regular basis, I feel so inadequate to lead and do the things that I do, but God continues to use Valley to remind that I can rest in His grace. That He is sufficient, and that He is coming alive in me all the more. I no longer feel dead inside, but truly alive. I feel the Spirit of God flow through every vein in my body, the power of Christ emanating with each beat of my heart. I have come to know what life was meant to be.
John 5:25 says, “2Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Jesus came to bring the dead back to life. And that is exactly what happened when Jesus brought me home. He brought a sinning pastor back to life.
Friends, today I write because I want you to know that we all have death in our lives. We have these deep rooted pains in our souls, whether we hide it with a facade or literally hide from the public. Jesus came to breathe life into ashes failures, to bring life into these weary bones. I urge you, if you are in need of this life, seek God. Know that He loves you, that He wants to lead you to life. So do not listen to voices of doubt and shame, allow God to love you.