From my earliest days that I can fully recall, I was brought up in a old country church. Unlike some churches today, it was not a social club. Nor was it a go-through the motions exercise where once you had completed your workout you left unchanged. It was a place where the chains that bound you to bad habits and vices were broken through the grace of God.
Church started in the prayer room. Many people believed it started at home with Bible reading and prayer. I am one of those that share this belief, even now. We would pray and seek the face of God for our nation, our families and for those that did not know Him and His grace.
This past Sunday, I was fortunate to hear a message preached by Bishop Doug White titled, “The real reason you need a shield of faith.” In this sermon he said that it was important that we use the shield to protect our faith. As I sat there listening, I felt tears slide down my face. Memories rushed back and I remembered a time when I turned my back on my faith. With full knowledge of God and what He is capable of doing, I walked away.
Years passed and I lived a life that I knew was sinful. Addicted to alcohol and prescription pills, I drowned the horror of my life in the consumption of liquor. I knew full well that this lifestyle was empty. Yet, I insisted that this was what I wanted. Much like the prodigal son that is referenced in the parable, I wallowed in the pig pen of sin. Broken, penniless and nigh unto homelessness, I found my way home.
When I returned home in 2016, I was a broken man. My life was in shambles. My career had been lost, my marriage had dissolved in the roaring fires of misunderstanding and a lack of trust, and I was ill. Epilepsy was the diagnosis and it was one more bitter pill that I had to swallow. My 100 pound weight gain did not improve my disposition any. Angry, bitter and full of hatred for all things, I went through the motions until God placed a person in my life to intervene.
My intervention caught me unaware. It started with an invitation to come to church. A simple “please come visit us sometime” led me to walking through the church doors for the first time in over a decade. If I am to be completely candid, I was on pins and needles. Spooked one might say. I sat on the back pew, and conviction grabbed my heart. As soon as the altar call was given, I dipped out the back and went home. Yet, I could not forget what I felt that night. I received another invitation and I went back. As I became accustomed to going back to church, I started to feel that I was slowly recovering.
Cue Rev. Shane Burns visiting the church and my eventual return to the fold. I can’t remember exactly what he preached that night, but man did he preach. The anointing of the Holy Ghost was all over him. As he preached hot tears flowed down my cheeks and I stood to my feet. I raised my hands and suddenly Rev. Burns was not the only one feeling the power of God!
It has not been easy. However, as Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” By no means am I the perfect Christian. There is no such animal. I am just a flawed sinner trying to make Heaven my home.
You guys take care and I will chat with you all soon.