Happy Valentine’s Day!
We’re at sea today…having left Cozumel around 10pm and headed back toward Miami.
This morning, the men and women separate… the men will have a devotion time with Voddie Bacham and the women will gather right after with Priscilla Schier. (She’s the first Christian speaker I ever heard live and I’m so excited!)
Coincidentally, last year when the men and women were separated the casino was busier than I had seen it all week. Just cracked me up!
Lots in store for the day from games, to relaxing, to speakers and food… and then?
We’ll renew our vows under the stars… and a farewell concert to follow!
With that, I present part 4…
Originally posted May 29, 2008
We talked for nearly two hours in his office. I can’t tell you what all about as I don’t honestly remember. I know that I said to him that I thought it was cool that a Pastor had a MySpace page. (because, you know, when you’re looking for someone to bare your soul to, they should have a MySpace page).
I know that I felt at ease and I admitted to him that I could see something in these people, these people at the church where Matthew played ball. I wanted what I saw. I wanted him to tell me that I could just order a dose online or something, but he didn’t. He told me about these people, about the church, about his life… about his mother, a single one at that… who raised four boys. He told me the things she did right, and the things that she could’ve improved on. He was so open, honest, and genuine.
But then he asked me if I was ready to let Him help and I said, “If I not there already, I’m close.”
Silly answer, no? He knew (as he admitted) that I didn’t like to be pushed and he didn’t push. And I am ever so grateful as if he would’ve pushed, I would’ve walked out and never come back. But he was real. He was honest. He didn’t put himself above me because he was a Pastor and I wasn’t even a Christian. But more than anything?
He listened to me.
I came home and talked to Lisa some more. She gave me Bible verses to read and write about. She told me to journal, at least 3 pages every day. Not on the computer… no! I had to handwrite these thoughts. Having no other options, I did what she said and talked to her about things.
Pastor Man invited me to church on Sunday. I told him that I would think about it. The reality of it was, I had to talk it over with Lisa first. This church was different. This wasn’t what I was used to. Part of me felt like I was cheating on the Episcopal Church because I was going to go to a Wesleyan Church, which is stupid, because I wasn’t going to church at all.. so what did it matter?
After talking to Lisa at length, I told her that I would go. The kids would be with their dad so I wouldn’t have to worry about them in a strange service and freaking out because these people put their hands in the air when they worshiped.
Saturday rolled around and my friends were all going out. Downtown. To a bar. And I was going. I was excited. I told Lisa before I went that I was going to go to church the next day. I told everyone at the bar that I was going to church the next day.
Yes, as I downed whatever sissy beer I happened to have been bought, I exclaimed that I was going to church. I’m sure it was a sight.
But when I rolled in the door at 5am, drunker than a skunk and looked at the clock I determined that there was no way in Hades that I was going to church.
I didn’t set the alarm. In my drunken stupor, I figured that if I was up in time, I would go and if I didn’t then they would be there next week. After all, what’s one more week? I’d already missed several already.
At 8am I was awake. And when I say awake? I mean WIDE AWAKE. I couldn’t get back to sleep and tried every bed in the house and the couch trying to get back to sleep. I was tired. I was hung over. I wanted to sleep.
At 9, when it just wasn’t happening I got up and putzed around the house. I contemplated going to church. The reality of it was, I didn’t want to go. I was afraid, which, at that time, which is how I lived my life — Afraid of everything… taking the car to get inspected, afraid to open the mailbox, afraid to leave the house. I tried my hardest to talk myself out of it but didn’t really want to tell Lisa that I didn’t make it to church. I promised her I would go.
I went to church and let me tell you! They did things much differently than they do at the Episcopal church! They have a projector and lively music and people praying and crying and I cried… oh boy did I cry. And I took notes during the sermon. I had questions like “How come it was okay for David to kill Goliath when the Bible says ‘thou shall not kill’?”
I wrote them all down on my bulletin so that I could ask Lisa when I got home. And they were so nice to me. They made me feel so very welcome.
And when I got home, I sent Lisa a little message telling her that I had been to church. When she asked me about the night before, I told her all the details, including being wide awake at 8am after being out all night.
What she said next amazed me. She told me that she prayed for a wake up call so that I would get to church! Praise the Lord! I often wonder what would happen if I never made it to church that day.
I decided that I would at least look for a church, an Episcopal church, mind you, because I had it in my head that I needed to stay within that denomination. I prayed that God make it obvious.
After basketball the next Saturday, as I was leaving, five people said, “See you tomorrow.” I think that was pretty obvious. I went. I cried. I wrote my questions for Lisa and asked when I got home.
For two weeks we went back and forth on saying this prayer of Salvation thing. I struggled because it was so different from what I knew and bless her! She’s got the patience of a saint. She never yelled at me or gave up on me. I remember those two or three weeks just being horrible. I did nothing but cry, read the Bible and pray. But I just wasn’t going to say this prayer.
I was stubborn.
To be continued…