What is it about me that you need to know to help you in your journey? That is the conundrum I face. There are stats like:
I was born in 1951 and raised on a farm in the center of the San Joaquin Valley of California, the second of four boys. After earning an AA degree at Reedley Jr. College, I finally gave up on school. To avoid being drafted, I joined the Air Force and was promptly sent to school. I served for three years repairing radar and weapons control systems on an F-106 fighter, serving another five years with the Fresno Air National Guard. My first marriage disintegrated after nine years with no children. At thirty-three, I married Susan, whom I have partnered with for over thirty years. We have raised two children, Rachel and Katie, in Fresno, California. I worked for most of my life as an electrical contractor. Over those thirty years in construction, I worked alone and specialized in installing the electrical for gas stations. Many of those projects were full stations with a building, car wash, canopies and, as many as, 12 gas dispensers. I retired the business in 2012 at 61 years old. Back in 2002, following a long time dream, I opened a second business, hired employees and watched it crash.
Those are the quick facts, but they are not the journey. They are the framework within which the journey was lived out. Successes and failures, trials and challenges which formed the pathway God would use to train and teach me about love, trust, life, and His nature.
What of the spiritual statistics?
As a young child, my parents attended an American Baptist Church. It was at seven years old that I entered into the grace of trusting the finished work of Jesus to bring me into a relationship with my Creator. In the early 1960’s, when I was twelve, my dad received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as spoken about in Acts 2. Dad was a pioneer in the central valley in bringing many into that experience, back when the term charismatic was unknown. We were not American Baptist for long. It was, however, in 1965 just after my 16th birthday that I sat with Heavenly Father alone on a mountainside at Dinkey Creek, California and entered into that same experience. From that moment, there was an irrepressible drive to know the truth of who God is. It was a ‘grace’ which God bestowed so that I could stand in the challenges I would face in the years ahead.
That is the early spiritual history but that is not the journey either. It is but the borders along the path that would take me to places I might not have wanted to go; however, in every valley and every storm, I learned of God’s faithfulness. You see, I was born with a target on my back. There are many reasons as to why, but that is a story too big for this page. For now, suffice it to say that the Adversary did not like my birthright or my calling. The fact is, he doesn’t like yours either. I suffered at the hands of many abusers through the years as my target seemed to be noticeable by those who were too wounded to resist the enemy or, having given themselves over to evil, propagated their pain upon me. My family was unaware of these abuses and I never told them. That is the way of those abused, they rarely do.
It was not until I was married to Susan at thirty-three years old that it became safe enough to deal with the inner pain and trauma of the multiple wounds. Susan had the same heart to know God that I did. We became two wounded pilgrims on an adventure to find the heart of the Father. That is the journey. That is the testimony to a faithful God. There was very little information in the mid-eighties for the things we faced, but there was enough to get us pointed in the right direction. Volumes could be filled capturing the beauty of the dance which God orchestrated so that we might find wholeness. God had spoken to us through a brother when we were married that our marriage would be one in which the fight would not be between us, but we together would face a common foe. That has been true for us, and quite honestly, was our only way of survival. There was very little support for where we had to walk. To have one person who understood made all the difference.
Back in mid-2008, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me that I was not treating His Word as holy. I have the challenge of dyslexia, though in my youth they did not have that diagnosis. I was just considered deficient by those who were my teachers. It made writing difficult because of the struggle to spell words correctly. However, with the blessing of spell check, I had the freedom to write my thoughts with fluidity and began a prayer journal. I would sit in the dawn’s light before work and write from my spirit, praises and psalms to the Father. Then He began to speak back to me through His Spirit words of life and instruction. I felt as though I was being mentored by the Father. I now had a way to treat His Word as holy for when they were written I would not forget. I still prayer journal every day gaining new insight and instruction from the Father. It was through such an exercise that I developed the skill of writing out my heart and receiving His in return. It has also diminished the effects of dyslexia.
I have come to have a trust that is so deep and abiding that it has totally altered my life and walk. I have moved from fear and being filled with shame to living in confidence in my identity. In 2012 I had to shut down my business. California was in a major recession and there was little work. In one year I lost two-thirds of my income. The following year, I lost another third of what was left. We lost our house and let the business go. All the while we continued to see God’s hand and lived in His grace. I had been hearing from God for several years that He was going to lead me out of the trades, and so, He and I danced together through that time in an amazing amount of peace, both for my wife and me. We found that He was trustworthy, even in this, We were embarking on a new adventure together. It was amazing how freeing it felt to be rid of all the stuff that had gathered in our lives. God continues to clear out the rubbish, as we are able to trust His loving kindness toward us. The journey is far from over, but the best is yet to come. The Father once told me that for the one who could really know and trust His love, there was no limit to how far that man could go in Him because such trust releases Him to lead that man anywhere. I bless you to know the God of the impossible so that your life might abound with His love and grace.