In life, when we hit a rough patch, many of us have thrown in the towel because we either feel unworthy or others have given up on us. But I’ve been learning that God has not given up on me.
I have seen this truth played out throughout my life journey with the LORD and how he has brought me back to the path that He has already laid out for me to walk in faith.
A year ago, last November I completed the Christian Life Discipleship Program at the Union Rescue Mission. I continued at the mission as an Apprentice through the discipleship of Pastor Dan Anderson and the support of Chaplain Mike McIntire, as well as receiving relational support from my mentor, and friend, Mike Morris from Pacific Coast Church in San Clemente who I met through the Iron Man Conference.
Things in my life were on the upside. I was a nurturing influence on the men I worked with in the program until the worries and troubles of life began to creep in again. I let the offenses of others and my family affect my feelings and emotions in a bad way that led me to compromise in my walk with God.
Consequently, I relapsed the following year in January of 2018. I went back again into the wilderness and the rat race of this dark and lost world. In eight months, I again faced the darkness alone isolating myself from the people who had been there to help disciple and encourage me. I had no direction and just kept thinking about my next gambling trip to the casino. I reverted back to old behaviors; doing all I could to hustle the money I could use to play poker or the slots. I worked odd jobs but only to lose it all. It once again became a vicious cycle with no finances for my wellbeing and no vision for the future.
Although I knew better, it felt like God had left me. However, despite all this, He began to reveal Himself to me through several human encounters with other graduates of the URM program. Elias, approached me on the Blue Line Train and said, “Please come back to the mission. We have all been praying for you.” But I was too ashamed and embarrassed to show my face.
A few weeks later, Dwayne saw me who is another one of our Band of Brothers (alumni). He told me, “God sees your heart and wants to help you get back up”. Then it dawned on me that these were divine appointments and that God was pursuing me. These were agents of God sent to encourage me. I mustered the courage to return to the mission and finally “stay still” (Psalm 46:10) and know who He is… He does not give up on his own children.
I was welcomed back with open arms through men like Chaplain McIntire, David Newman, Albert Kae, and my current Chaplain Michael Interlichia. They have demonstrated to me God’s patience and with open hearts to understand my pain and struggles as well as to give me another chance to get back to this journey of complete restoration.
Last, but not least, men like my mentor and friend Mike Morris, his family, and Pastor Dan have blessed me so much with open arms to keep running the race by showing LOVE for a prodigal, which is the greatest thing that each of us can give to one another.
I hope that my story has illustrated a valuable truth for all of us… that no matter how many times each of us make a mistake or fail in life… “Don’t give up on yourself or someone else”.
As an entire community unto the LORD, I believe he wants us to “never give up” on those who have a set-back because this serves as hope and inspiration for that man or woman to keep running the race that God has set forth in their lives which will be ultimately be completely restored in eternity.
URM Band of Brothers and Returning disciple of Jesus Christ
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