7Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth. Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.Psalms 25:7, NLT
Oh, the rebellious sins of my youth. You see, I wasn’t even a Christian until age 30. I sat in a church pew a broken man on November 26th, 2000. I had been rebellious. I thought I was going to be “good enough” to make it to heaven. I was a good person, or so I had thought. Yet, here I was about to be divorced a second time, yet this time it was someone I was truly destined to be with. The young lady that I had re-met at our 10 year high school reunion. There were no doubts that we were destined to be together, at least not at first. But then, we both got busy, living separate lives in the same house. Maybe we were just falling out of love? Maybe the grass was greener with this lady at work who was supposedly struggling in her marriage? I had scooped those coals in my lap and had gotten burned.
I will never forget that voicemail message Kristina left me. The anger and the hurt at an email she discovered that confirmed her suspicions I was looking and acting elsewhere. I collapsed and cried. It was the lowest I had felt in my life. But, I thought I was a good person? Yet, here I was.
So, on this November 26th, a Sunday, I was sitting at New Hope Christian Church in Bartlett, TN. Kurt Parker was preaching a sermon on repentance. I could have been the only one in that church that day and he couldn’t have written a better sermon. I could have sworn he knew my story, yet he had never met me.
That Thursday before, Thanksgiving, I was sitting with my older brother Jerry, and explaining what was going on in my life. He said and I quote “you sound like you are spiritually lost.” I said “Yes, I am.” He invited me to church that Sunday if he could get his schedule rearranged. Before I could even think about it, I said yes. That answer would have been no any other Thursday, but I knew I needed something. Desperately. Ironically, this was the same church Kristina had been begging me to go to for a long time and I never even considered it. She knew we were destined to be there. I didn’t.
“You know, one of my favorite movies is Gone with the Wind and one of the lines from that movie and one that makes my point today is when Rhett Butler says to Scarlett O’Hara ‘You aren’t crying because you are upset, you are crying because you got caught!'” – Kurt Parker, November 26, 2000.
That was it. That was the line where I KNEW God was speaking to ME and me alone. This epitomized my feelings right after listening to the fateful voicemail. I was crying because I got caught. God had put me at New Hope THAT Sunday to hear THAT line. When the time of invitation came, I almost knocked my brother over and went up to get baptized. I bet I couldn’t have named 12 people from the Bible: Jesus, Moses, Noah, David, Goliath, Adam, Eve, Job (only because of AP English), maybe a few more but not many more. However, God was calling me. I got baptized that day. I really didn’t even know what that meant, but I knew I needed to make that commitment that day. The day my life changed. The day when the rebellious sins of my youth got buried and a new me came up out of that water.
There is even more to that story, but the cliff notes of the story is that Kristina got baptized a few weeks later, she forgave me, we saved our marriage. We are a stronger couple than ever. I love her more by the day.
11 For the honor of your name, O Lord, forgive my many, many sins.12 Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.
Psalms 25:11-12, NLT
I still have much growing to do, but 22 years ago, those were the events that started my journey with Jesus. For quite a while, I was ashamed to tell the story because it revealed such weakness in me. However, it shows how great our God is in spite of any weaknesses we may have. I was encouraged very early on to never, ever be afraid to share that story because it could inspire, convict, or encourage someone at just the right moment.
It has been a wild, but great ride. I am not sure I would choose this path again, yet it uniquely makes me who I am. No one else has my testimony and no one can take it away from me. I am so grateful for God’s and Kristina’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I am not sure where I would even be without that. I cannot even fathom the path my life would have taken had God not stepped in in November of 2000. I wouldn’t be writing this, I can assure you. I encourage you to share your testimony often and to whoever will listen to it. You never know who will relate to it. It is God’s story written through you. Others need to hear it. Don’t ever be afraid to tell it.
Dear Lord, I pray that those reading this message are encouraged to share their story with people that they know, and maybe even someone they would consider an acquaintance at best. I ask that You bless these stories and testimonies about Your great love. May none of us ever be afraid to tell Your story that is being written through us. We all love you Lord. In the mighty, mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen.