Brian B.

Brian B.

from KS
Story #229
I was raised in a large devout, loving Catholic family. I attended catholic school from K-12. I generally had great role models from the start; however something was missing in my life. As an adolescent I lost interest in church and “creatively” avoided any conversations about God or church with my parents. I would occasionally go out of guilt or while home from college but spent most of the time looking at my watch to see how long I must endure. After I was married my wife, who was raised Presbyterian, being the giver that she is, converted to Catholism so we could be one big happy family. We tried to make it a priority to go to church but again got nothing out of it as we sporadically went. Even worse was the fact that we gave nothing of ourselves back to it! When we did go we couldn’t have told you what was said 5 minutes after the service. We also never prayed together as a couple and eventually stopped going to church all together. About this time I received a Christmas card from Pastor Ryan Holt, an old college chum of mine, informing us that he had achieved his goal of going full time into ministry at a local church. What caught my attention was the verse from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. This was my favorite verse and probably the only one I would have recognized. I called Ryan to congratulate him and of course he invited us to come up to many of the activities. We decide to go hear him speak one morning, but first attended the service. The pastor gave a message to the visitors that day about how if you were just spiritually drained to keep coming and just be ministered to. I thought my buddy Ryan had slipped this guy a message that I was there because He was talking directly to me! So we kept coming over the next 8 months and looked forward to it each Sunday. My wife and me would even find ourselves discussing the messages throughout the week then suddenly stop and realize “are we talking about church?” I had never really heard the word of God spoken and taught by someone gifted by the Holy Spirit before. My heart was being softened by God, thru His perfect word. God’s wisdom was speaking directly into our lives. God’s word was now relevant to Me and MY life! It was not just something I must endure now out of guilt but was preserved perfectly to be wielded as a sharp sickle to pierce my heart today! Was this not the bible, the dusty book for decoration that usually just sat in our home collecting dust on a coffee table? No, I was now seeing it more as gift to me and all of humanity on how to achieve success, true lasting success. Talk about a self-help book to change your paradigm!

My kids were also being impacted through the many activities designed at their level and away from us led by some “crazy” volunteers (eternal thanks to them) so that our meeting with God would not be interrupted or frustrated by kids being kids. The kids loved it too which was amazing in itself. I wasn’t dragging them to church anymore. They actually wanted to go. I could see the impact this was making on them as well. Internally however I was in chaos wondering how this change in my life would affect my parents or what would my friends think, etc. Daily, it was my waking thought causing severe anxiety and stress. I was just about worn out mentally and physically as stress takes a toll over a the long term. Then at a Saturday night Marriage Journey Class a video was played about holding on to anger. It made me think of an ex-employee who had hurt us 4 years earlier. I recall telling my wife that I hope this person would get hit by a bus! At the time the only thing that would have been better was if I was driving it! So you could say I was harboring some anger! Through the next week this anger and the changing churches thing was weighing on my mind. Being the control freak that I was, I thought I could control this too. This was March 2, 2006. I was driving my car and I finally had enough. I said my first REAL prayer in a long time. Ironically, I was actually driving a car at the time because I asked God to take over the wheel of my life. I surrendered to His will and also asked that He send me a sign on this one because I just can’t hack it anymore! But still the control freak I wanted God to prove He was real. 3 hours later my cell phone rings. “Hello”, I said “David?” The caller asks. “No you must have the wrong number” I replied. Then after a pause the caller queries…”Brian is that you?” (It was the ex-employee from four years ago) she had mistakenly called the number of a mutual friend who has a similar number to wish him a happy birthday and called me instead. OK, Lord you now have my undivided attention. I had not seen or spoken to this person in four years. Incredible, since we knew many of the same people. So I paused and thought. What would Jesus do? I simply said to her “I’m glad you called” “You are?” She meekly replied. I went on to tell her I wanted the past to be just that …the past and that all I know now is that I missed my friend. She immediately started to weep and was apologizing for the past problems until I stopped her and said we would never again speak of the past but concentrate on the future. Needless to say it was a powerful conversation but implicitly simple too. Message received, Lord!

From that point on Jesus has been real to me and not just a ceremonial thing I do periodically but a living savior of my eternal soul. Jesus is not distant but a companion, a counselor that helps me walk the purpose that God has for my life. When I fail as I often do still, he’s my encourager or even my drill sergeant if needed. Jesus now has impact thru me into all areas of my life. My family, friends and work life are all His anyway and now I realize I’m just a steward for Him. I know that Jesus is more concerned with how my heart is as I do anything. The “why” I do anything makes all the difference and is very peaceful when I do it out of appreciation and awe of what Jesus has done in my life not out of a religious obligation as before I let Jesus drive. Jesus wants that freedom for you as well and is always there to answer the door but you must knock first.

May God’s peace be multiplied,

Brian B.