I consider myself to have been saved on September 22, 2010. However, I only pursued the Lord in a lackadaisical fashion for some time after that. The turning point was about this time last year. I distinctly remember sitting in the restroom at about 4:45 PM on a Saturday, on the phone with a friend, asking if “that Mount Zion church still had their Saturday night service going on?”
Well, the rest, as we know it, is history. It would be impossible to sum up an entire year’s worth of experience, spiritual growth, development, new friends, and knowledge I’ve gained in so many respects. By any objective standard, a third party observer could take a look at me and say I was a fairly successful person – I’m halfway through law school, I owe almost nothing in student loans, I’ve kept my health, et cetera.
But they could have said that a year ago, too. And the truth is, a year ago, I was so lost in my spiritual and personal walk that it wasn’t even funny. I attended the law school’s Halloween party in 2011. I can’t peg a precise date when I started attending Mount Zion, but I know it was less than two weeks after that party. And it wasn’t exactly the right place to be. (picture not safe for families)
I could go on about how the summer of 2012 was probably the best summer I’ve had. And the title picture I used encapsulated the entire summer in a profound way. We were at The Greene and on a whim I decided to give this guy a dollar (the only dollar all five of us had), at which time he starts playing Amazing Grace. Some guy jumps out of a passing car, runs up to us, shouts “Praise the Lord!” while showing us an enormous tattoo of Jesus and John 3:16 on his arms.
So then Ashley (the young lady in the picture) joins him in hooping and hollering about Jesus. Meanwhile, I was completely stoked, it made my whole day. For that matter, it made my week. All my life, I’ve come to expect the polar opposite – if you mention God in public, you’ll get shouted down and told to be quiet. Not here, and not this day!
Rather than attempt to describe my entire experience since then, I’m just going to make a shout out to everyone who played a role in my spiritual growth, breakthroughs, and general peace that I’ve achieved lately. This is in no particular order, except for who came to mind.
First off, I remain forever thankful for Jesus. For dying for me and loving me forever and never giving up, even when I’m an intractable sinner. I’m thankful that Your grace overflows and is enough for all of us. I know that I repeatedly fail at living up to Your standards, and I repent those sins.
I’m thankful for my parents, both of which have provided financial, moral, and (in the case of my father) spiritual support and growth over the past year. I hope you understand how much you’ve managed to do for me, Dad.
I’m thankful to have been blessed with a growing circle of friends that are also pressing into Jesus with all their hearts. I’ve leaned on a lot of you over the past year, especially when looking for spiritual support. That immediate list includes, in no particular order, Brent and Cliff Engels, Matt and Clint Holderman, their mom Aurora, Eric McComas, Jake Crawford, Nathan Stroble and his father Larry, Tiffany Presley, Caitlin and Stephen O’Guin, and their father Jeff for his timely and often hard-hitting sermons that led to great breakthrough.
Hats off to Tommie Culpepper for his advice that probably meant the difference between making it through law school or not. And for Grace, who is probably the only teenage girl I know of who doesn’t tune out when the subject turns to politics or economics.
A salute to Rosemary Bradford, Wanda Peden, and Glenn Laack for ramrodding the logistics behind healing prayer training this past summer. To the other healing prayer team members who I’ve received enormous breakthroughs with – Sarah Blosser, Ashley O’Neal, Geoff Griffith, Abby Granato, Barb Beckley, and I’m sure I’m missing a few more here.
To the Monday night men’s group that I haven’t already mentioned – Dave Stanford, Matt Porter, Joe Martin, Rick Vice, Mike Bates, Phil Granato.
To Jack and Jenni McComas, for the numerous breakthroughs that have occurred at SHOP, when the Lord opens up the floodgates of heaven and truly lets it rains.
To the friends in Northern Kentucky who have contributed to my growth, too – Katie Smolkovich and Sarah Burress. You guys are some of the only friends I still have in the area.
To everyone else who played a role, I hope I’m not forgetting anyone. Caleb, Carson, Dani, Sunny, Keith, Shannon, Mandie, Paige… and yeah, I’m sure I’ve forgotten a LOT of people. But I’m still thankful for everyone nevertheless.
Here is to sincerely hoping that 2013 is an even greater year. Praise the Lord! Nothing that has happened has been an accident. It has all been in accordance with His plan.