Monday, July 25, 2011

Losing It All - Mike's Story Part 4

The deeper I get into "Mike's" story, the more inspired I am. I love peeling back each layer as we discover who this man once was and I CANNOT wait to introduce you to him!

What excites me, is the fact that he is living proof of the gift of a REDEEMED life! Once you meet the man he is today, you will only shake your head in amazement and agree with me that God is a God of mercy! He is a God of grace!

What I want more than anything from these stories is for each of us to recognize ourselves in the Eve's and the Mike's staring back at us through the lines on this blog. We all are born with a sinful nature. We all have choices to make. But above all, we all have a Creator who longs to embrace us. He delights in who we are and wants more than anything to give us a life of abundant peace and joy.

Read Mike's story and stay tuned! Soon, very soon, I want to introduce you to Mike and the man he is today. I promise, you will be amazed at the transformation God has made in his life!

As always, I invite you to share his story with others! Our desire is to offer hope to those who are hopeless.

Losing It All

I had a hard time keeping my eyes off of her.  The similarities between this girl and the woman in my visions were beyond ironic – simply put, it was the same woman!   I didn’t speak to her that day, but I left completely convinced that she was the life God had been promising me. 

Time went by and I never could shake the girl-from-the-funeral from my mind.  I continued pursuing the life of sin with little thought or care for myself – or anyone else… still, there are moments I look back on and realize God was opening my eyes and revealing the utter darkness and despair my life had become. 

One day stands out among the others.  I was at a party in Kalamazoo.  A big shot drug dealer from a larger city was there as well.  Hanging out with guys like him had become the norm in my life, and I thought little of it.  We stood there, just shootin’ the breeze, having a few drinks when his phone rang.  As soon as he said, “Hello”, I could hear something was obviously wrong on the other end.  Screams were coming through the phone – a woman hollering for him to come help her.  He listened for a second then with a calm, cold voice said, “I don’t know you!” and snapped the phone shut.

I stood staring at him, obviously wondering what was going on.  He chuckled as he reached for a cigarette, “It’s nothing.  My girlfriend, well, ex-girlfriend, just got busted with some drugs.”  His enunciated words were dripping with sarcasm.  He paused for moment then went on, a sinister chuckle in his voice.  “My drugs actually.  I had her bringing the goods down here for me.”  He muttered a string of expletives under his breath.  “When I think about how much she had on her…”  His voice trailed off for a moment.  “Man, she’s gonna get locked up for a long time.  A long, long time!”    Lighting the cigarette, he tipped his head back and blew a thick white cloud above us.  We were silent.  What went through his mind, I don’t know, but I was disgusted.  Dark and uncaring as I had let myself become in my own thoughts and actions, still this stunned me.  That was just cold.  I knew I never wanted to sink to that level!

Eventually, I moved back home to work with my parents.  They had offered me a job at their business and I chose to quit doing drugs at that point.  I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting them with the knowledge of the kind of life I was living.  Quitting wasn’t hard.  I simply quit.  Besides, I still had booze, which I drank with pleasure.

To my surprise, I discovered the girl-from-the-funeral lived close by!   My aunt had introduced us and I wondered about this Rachel-girl often. 

It was getting on towards evening that night we first talked.  I was working late and was surprised to look up and see Rachel standing there.  She had stopped in for one reason or another and soon we got caught up in a conversation – just the usual, where’d-you-go-to-school and you-live-close-by kind of stuff.

She was by far one of the sweetest girls I’d ever met.  Rachel was one of those “good girls”.  Like me, she had grown up going to church, only she had wholeheartedly embraced the Christian scene.   We hit it off immediately and soon it became a common occurrence for her to stop by and see me at work.  I couldn’t help but wonder what her parents must think about Rachel spending time with a guy like me, but I wasn’t about to ask. 

One evening, though, our conversation took  a turn, she began talking to me about her relationship with God.  I had heard all the mumbo jumbo Christian stuff and I didn’t want to hear it again – especially from an intriguing girl like Rachel.  I had other things I rather talk about – like would she go out with me on Friday night. 

I finally worked up the courage to ask her out and she promptly turned me down.  “What?  Why?”  I asked, surprised that someone would tell me “no”.

“I’m sorry, Mike.  You’re a nice guy and everything, but I only date guys I would actually consider marrying.”

Ouch!  “Seriously?”  I was annoyed.  “Come on!  Go out with me on Friday.  We’ll just go catch a movie and get something to eat.”  But she wouldn’t be persuaded.

“I can’t Mike.  I’m sorry.”

I wasn’t about to take no for an answer.  I never did.  Everyone else I had ever wanted something from gave it to me, yet here was this pretty little church girl telling me, Mike the tough guy, “no”?   

One Friday night she had a date – and it wasn’t with me.  I had asked her out over and over again, always receiving the same answer – still, one could hope!   That night though, I couldn’t stand the thought of her spending time with another guy but there was little I could do about it.  So I did the only thing I could do - I went to her house.  She was ready and waiting for the twerp to show up, so I sat with her begging for a chance.

“Why can’t you just like me for who I am?” I asked.

“Mike, I do like you,” Her brown eyes did crazy things to my heart and I wished time would stand still.  “But I can’t go out with a guy who doesn’t have a relationship with God!”  In that moment it hit me.  All my life I had searched for power… a strength that could only be measured as super-natural.  I pushed the limits time and time again in an effort to prove my strength.  I had stared death fearlessly in the face numerous times, impressed by the power I had over others.  The darkness of evil that hovered near me at every turn filled me with dangerous courage and I loved it – always pushing for more power… more strength.  Yet here before me, wrapped up in this beautiful woman called Rachel exuded all the power and strength I had searched for so long.  She was the essence of it!  I couldn’t get enough of her.  I wanted that kind of strength with everything in me. 

I sat staring at her, knowing my time was limited.  “What’s it gonna take, Rachel?  What do I have to do to get you to go out with me sometime?”

“Come to church with me,” she said.  Suddenly, I had to get going.  Her date was going to be there soon and I didn’t want to be there when he arrived. 

I stood to my feet, “Churches are full of hypocrites, Rachel.  Thanks anyway.”

I drove out the drive, ticked.  We had had that conversation before.  On one of the many evenings she’d stopped in to see me at work, I had told her in no uncertain terms that should I ever need help, I knew I could rely on my non-Christian friends way more than I’d ever be able to count on the losers I’d find sitting in a pew.

Her answer surprised me, but her words played through my mind, “You know what, Mike, you might be right, and I’m sorry that that has been your experience.  But you have to know that it’s more than that.  Those people, the Christians who have let you down, they have to answer for themselves, but what about you?  You will only find peace when you surrender your life to God!”  Over the weeks she had pushed and prodded, but I was stubborn, refusing to give in to her churchy ways.

The next morning I called her.  “Doing anything tonight?”  I hoped that somehow she had changed her mind after last night’s conversation.

“Well, yes, Mike.  Actually, I’m going on a date.”

“What?  Why will you go out with all these other guys but never me?”

She was relentless, and I hung up frustrated.  I spent the day annoyed, trying to figure out a way to change her mind, but I knew better.  It was that strength – that crazy ability to stand strong no matter how hard I tried to convince her otherwise.  Fine!  I’d do it!

She didn’t seem too surprised when I showed up again that night to sit with her as she waited for her date, but her eyes couldn’t deny her amazement when I asked if I could go to church with her the next morning.

Those next weeks were awesome!  True, we argued a lot about God and church and stuff like that, but as long as I was willing to go to church, she was willing to go with me. 

I was still doing much better as far as drugs were concerned until that fateful night at the concert.  The night my old “friend” stopped by and picked me up.  It was then I experienced the horrible night in the restroom.  As I stood scrubbing the vomit from my shirt that night, I couldn’t help but wonder what Rachel would think if she could see me now?  This life was miserable and lonely.  I wanted so badly the life God had promised me.  A battle was raging inside of me and I wasn’t ready to let go.  Simply put, I wanted to live my life my way! 

I left the bathroom that night, knowing that once again, I had been spared; still I was unwilling to surrender my will... my desires… my life to a Holy God.   My only hope was that maybe, just maybe, I could have this life… and Rachel too!

In an effort to appear like the godly man Rachel thought she needed, I began to study the Bible.  I made sure she found out about it, but in the next moment would pressure her to take our relationship further.  I saw no reason to “wait”, but Rachel, again, would not be swayed.  No matter how hard I tried, no matter the times I bombarded her to let me prove my love to her, she would not relent.

It was a warm spring evening when she came to me.  I had my head buried under the hood of my truck when I heard the door open.  She stood there staring at me, and I knew.  Her eyes were filled with tears as she said the words I never wanted to hear.

“We can’t go on like this, Mike.  I love you, I really do, but this isn’t right.  You’re not the kind of man God has for me.”  I stood staring at her sure I could hear the sound of my heart as it broke to pieces.

“No,” I could only whisper as I clung to her. 

“I’m sorry, Mike, I really am.”  She had tried to break things off with me before, but I had always been able to change her mind.  This time was different.  I could see it in her eyes – there was that inner strength again.  The strength I still only dreamed of having. 

I knew it was over. 

I considered what my life was before her and what it would likely become again when she walked out that door.  I couldn’t hold back the tears and I sobbed like a child wishing I could find a way to recover what I had lost.

The tears were still streaming down her face as she whispered “good-bye”, and then, she was gone.


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