I wanted to give an example of the way that our wonderful God works through us in our weakness and struggle.
My parents had both passed away by the time that I was 21. I was a mess inside.
I had been known in my home town for running youth rallies and concerts and so forth. I would preach from the stage and always be making some excited stand for God.
Looking back, I think God got a real kick out of me. The same way that He loved Saul so much, to make him blind and rearrange his life, God intervened in mine too. God took away my parents. He did it because He loves me.
Everything had fallen apart… and that’s too many stories to recount.
I lived with the band that I was in. We were a Christian metal band called Unamerican Dream. I was trying to hide just how depressed that I was. The only way that I could fall asleep at the time was by mixing kool-aid with Everclear.
I worked two jobs. Both were from 10-4. One was 10am to 4pm, I’d go home, sleep for a few hours, then get up and go to the other one at 10pm to 4am. Maybe you’re beginning to imagine my mental state.
I kept trying to maintain with God. I wanted to know Him, but more than that, I know He wanted to know me.
You see, that’s one thing that I just can’t shirk. I look back, and I don’t see myself going after God. I was self-absorbed, reckless, hateful, lazy… I wanted to gratify my flesh at every turn. But I look back, and see God after me. He put up road blocks and messed things up, just to send me in the direction that He wanted me to go.
Where can we go to escape His love. I say nowhere! Nowhere at all!
At this time in my life, on Thursday mornings, I would go down to the abortion clinic to pray and such. Some people protested, but most of us just knelt and prayed.
There was a particular church that would oversee the street counseling and prayer. We were allowed to have two people on the side of the street that the actual clinic was on to try and talk to the women as they went in. We weren’t mean or intrusive, but we were trying to talk to them and save their baby’s life.
The pastor of the fore-mentioned church had previously made some statements about me to other people. You see, I worked at a particular store in the local mall that sold all sorts of goth-punk and rock music paraphernalia, and he deemed this a very bad situation. (all in all, looking back, I do too, but you’ll see what God did with this)
I enjoyed this job for the most part. Day after day the same kids would come in to talk about the newest rock bands or whatever. But this pastor, had stated that there was no way I could be a follower of Christ and work in that store. It’s full of evil and there’s just no way.
I really don’t know whether or not I was following Christ. I’d say that I wasn’t. But I know that Christ was chasing me around.
But back to the story… There was a beautiful and wonderful woman named Pam who would oversee the Thursday morning prayer. She would decide who would do the street counseling and so forth. She also took good care of me.
I was mom-less. And Pam knew this. She knew what a mess I was inside. She would look at me with these beautiful blue eyes and her mother’s heart. She looked inside me. I never once felt her judge me. Though I did feel her worry about this young man who was drifting along.
She would check on how I was eating, and she’d try and ask me questions. I’d try to muster all the holiness I could to appear like I was doing better than I was. But she kept me near her those mornings.
One morning, I showed up at about 7:30 in the morning. She had a weird smile on her face. “Good morning PJ.” she said. (my nick-name was PJ at the time) “You’re going to be on the other side of the street today.”
“What?” I was very surprised. I had never done the street counseling before. That’s a big deal. Looking those ladies in the eye, hoping that love and conviction comes through…
“I feel like you’re supposed to be over there today. I don’t know why. I just think it’s what you’re supposed to do this morning.”
She gave me a pocket full of literature to hand out, and sent me across the street. I was very nervous. You never know what’s going to come your way; perhaps an angry boyfriend or a stream of obscenities.
A few ladies rushed by me. They didn’t give me the time of day. I can’t blame them. It’s terribly awkward. One car pulled up quickly, a nice car, very expensive. It passed us and went right to the entrance of the clinic. A well dressed woman stepped out and was ushered in. The man sped off.
It was quiet for a while. I was tired, and looking forward to sleep.
I looked up and walking toward me was a young couple. This young couple came into the store I worked at nearly every day. Our eyes met with surprise, and very precariously we greeted each other.
“PJ, what are you doing here?”
“I’m here every Thursday.” I replied. “Are you guys okay?”
The young man said, “Not really.” His girlfriend broke away and ran inside to check in.
I looked at him. “Do you want to go for a walk?”
“Yes, that’d be good.”
I glanced across the street, and Pam was smiling with a tear in her eye. She knew God. She knew His plans were good. She believed. I saw her gather everybody together to pray.
That young man and I walked around the block. He told me about their situation. They didn’t want to do this, they were being forced to by her parents. They were absolutely terrified. They needed help.
I told him there was help. That there were people, right across the street ready to take them in, help them with money, whatever it takes to get them through this. Basically, I told him that Jesus was across the street waiting with open arms.
He ran in to get his girlfriend. He told her everything I had said. Within minutes they were out and Pam was holding her and rocking her and she cried and cried.
That pastor came to me then and there and told me that he was sorry for saying what he had said about me…
The thing is, I didn’t do that. I left that day, went to work, went back home and drank myself to sleep. But God put me there, in that store, on that sidewalk because He had, and still has a plan for the baby, that girl, Pam, that pastor, me… He has a plan for me.
I did nothing… I just happened to show up. He used me, despite my sin and wickedness… and believe me, I was wicked. I haven’t even gone into that side of who I was then.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when your search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’…
He drove me all over the place… and now, I cry out to Him, and my dear Lord and Savior always hears me. Praise the God who drives us into tragedy and torment that we would be near Him, and never hunger again!