My First Blog Post
Generic title, huh? Well, it’s late on the night before Father’s Day and after much back and forth in my mind about what I should write about first, I will go with the recommendation I’ve had the most of: me (oddly enough). I’ve received input that people want to know about who their reading just as much as what they read. That being said, here it is. You can also find this on the About The Author page if you so choose. Whether it inspires you, makes you laugh or cry, prompts you to poke fun, etc., it’s me.
This Is Me
In comparison to anybody else, I’m no one special. I’m a sinner in need of saving, just like you. There is nothing that elevates me above any other person on this earth. As Martin Luther once said, “We are all mere beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.” Brothers and sisters, I’m just another beggar hoping to show you and others where I find my bread.
Demographically, I am a middle-aged Virginian, happily-married, father of a wonderful son and amazing daughter. Occupationally, I’m a veteran, firefighter/paramedic, educator, chaplain, photographer, and theology student.
The non-biblical quote that I feel best describes my balance of work and life could best be described by Lou Beatty Jr. in the movie Finding Normal, “I’ve got to tell you that my vocation, my true calling, is serving others. Medicine is my avocation; it’s part of how I answer my calling, but it’s not all of it. I minister to bodies, but I also minister to hearts and souls.”
Luke 8:39 tells us to “declare how much God has done for you.” Here is the short version of my story.
For most of my adult life, my occupation defined me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but it began consuming me and adversely affecting my home life…that is, until God used my then-17-year-old son, to help me know who Christ truly is and was.
For years, I struggled with the concept of “cultish” organized religion, much less the life-altering teachings of Christianity. I had read, researched, and interviewed believers and non-believers alike, then read and researched some more. With over 20 years in the fire and rescue field, I had seen and experienced horrible things that seriously made me doubt that there could possibly be a loving and merciful God.
At the age of 20, my son, William, was born. Sometime around the middle of elementary school, William’s interest in church grew exponentially. At this point in time, I had gone back and forth between agnosticism and atheism. Not coming from a particularly religious home myself, I neither encouraged nor discouraged his spiritual interest. I believed it was, at least, a good influence of positive moralistic value, so I did not forbid it.
During the next 9-10 years, William and I would have rather profound theological and apologetic debates. I continuously told him why I thought Christianity was wrong and he would offer rebuttal, telling me why he followed Jesus Christ so fervently. What little faith I thought I had as a teen and young adult was no longer and I spoke out often against Christ to anyone who would listen, especially those who claimed to be Christians.
One evening in the late night hours of summer, I found myself sitting on my rack in the bunk room at the work, reading The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. I was about three-quarters of the way through the book (maybe a little more) and I began feeling something that I cannot put into words. It wasn’t joy, pain, anger, or any other emotion that I feel I could properly label. I just kept feeling like weeping. It actually scared me at first. I wasn’t sad or mad, and I wouldn’t even say that I felt like “crying” (although some would think them synonymous); I just kept feeling “choked up”. I would take a deep breath, relax, and it would subside, but the feeling kept coming back.
Hours later, nearing the end of the book, I came to page 759 and a heading that read, “You Can Receive Christ Right Now Through Prayer”. All of a sudden, I began feeling warm and, quite honestly, concerned (oh, and there was that choked-up feeling again). I took a deep breath and whispered out loud, “Even if this is true, I don’t deserve to be saved.” Then, I heard a voice in my head saying, “You can do it. Go ahead.”
I took a deep breath and began reading the following words, “Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.”
Now, I have heard people say that they were saved, born again, accepted the Lord, however you want to put it, and that right afterward, they felt nothing; no different, whatsoever. This was not the case with me. Immediately after speaking those words, I felt compelled to close my eyes and speak from the heart. As I sat alone in silence beneath my reading lamp, tears began rolling down my face and I just prayed. I wept. I begged forgiveness. I thanked Jesus again. I asked for guidance. I wept some more. I truly felt spiritually renewed. I must have prayed for 30 minutes or more and then laughed at myself for the next hour, or so, about how I could not stop weeping from the joy I was feeling and about how awkward it would be if we got a call right then.
After finally regaining my composure, I went and sat in the dayroom and reflected on a number of things, the biggest being this: I had finally come to the conclusion that, not only is the Christian God real, but so was the Word of God and the fact that Jesus died for me. I realized that it didn’t matter how many books I had read or how many Christians I had tell me that they “just believed”. I realized that for all the time I spent looking for Jesus with my eyes, I had been refusing to look with my heart. Once I opened my heart to Him, it all became clear; He was with me all along. He knew my heart and was patient with me. God is great.
God is omniscient, omnipresent, and completely Holy. Yes, He judges; He does so perfectly, righteously, and fairly, but He also forgives, loves, blesses, and shows mercy. I cannot effectively articulate the power I felt in Him that night. God is definitely NOT dead! He is alive, well, and reigns on high!
The following day, I called my son and told him that I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He was speechless for a few moments and then told me how happy he was for me and that he loved me. He also told me that earlier that week, he and some of his teen Christian friends had prayed that I would come to know Jesus soon. I was floored, humbled, and overwhelmed.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself reading Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The realization of what I had tried to teach my son in his adolescence and impressionable years hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like I needed to call him right then and tell him I was sorry, but I knew he was at a movie with friends and would not be able to answer. Instead, this is what I texted to him: “How blessed am I to have a son who followed his heart in the way he should follow God despite the influence of his father? I’m sorry for not having been the father the LORD wanted me to be. You deserved (and still do) so much better. I’m so very proud of your spiritual tenacity. I love you.” While I’m not sure what I expected in the return message, it certainly was not what followed. His reply said, “Dad, your influence has had a very positive influence on my faith. You made me own my faith and do more than just believe what I did because it’s what people had told me to be true. Thank you for instilling a love of truth in me. I’d be in a totally different place without it. Love you. :-)”
It was then that I realized that God had used my disbelief in him to strengthen and sharpen the faith of my son. I was simply amazed and in awe of His bigger plan. I felt the Spirit fill me as I prayed afterwards and knew that God had bigger plans for me.
One month later, among family and friends, my son and I walked into my neighbor’s swimming pool. My son baptized me in the name of the Father who made me, the Son who saved me, and the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Life since then, in both good times and hard times, has been magnificent. Jesus made Peter His “fisher of men”. My son was my fisherman.