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The decisions we make can drag us to the bottom of the barrel, and it’s there that we find the love of God. That simple truth is the essence of my story.
I played in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers. I was living the lifestyle of kings, but hadn’t yet bowed my knee to the King of kings. Everything changed on an airplane, when I passed by a group of players who were doing a Bible study. They challenged me to look deeper.
So I did.
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’
‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ He replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered.
The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’
‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to Your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name.’
But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is My chosen instrument to proclaim My name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.’
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.” —Acts 9:1-19
After you read that, the first thing I want to tell you is that not all Christ-followers have this kind of conversion experience. Less dramatic experiences are no less real. But my experience was sudden, abrupt, and strikingly similar to Paul’s conversion.
At the peak of my rebellion against God, He offered me true life. Not a false or lesser life involving the empty promise of money and the elusive, fleeting highs offered by drugs and sex outside of marriage. But a true and lasting life fed by the resurrected life of Christ Himself, in me and through me.
I’ll say it again, because it’s of utmost importance. The decisions we make can drag us to the bottom of the barrel, and it’s there that we find the love of God.
God has done an amazing and ongoing work in my life. I’m far from perfect, but He’s grown me into a pastor. I now pastor The Rock Church in San Diego, CA. Take a look at more of the story at theincrease.com.
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