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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Learning for Life (08/23/04)

TITLE: You Want Me to Do What?
By Rod Nichols


It was a crisp fall morning and my time with the Lord had been sweet, that is until He made a very statement. I felt much as Moses did, completely unworthy and incapable. But, letís back up so this will all make sense.

I grew up attending church. In High School I completed the process to become a member. The church required members to commit on paper to an amount of giving, which wasnít an issue until I went to college. I was the classic poor, struggling college student trying to make it all work far away from home. One day I received a letter from the church indicating that since I had not met my giving commitment, I was not longer a member. This situation, combined with the hypocrisy I had seen in the church caused me to stay away from church until I was thirty-nine.

During those years I achieved great things in the business world. I had material wealth, but was empty inside. Financial success didnít fill the emptiness, so I sought happiness in a relationship outside my marriage. A nasty divorce was followed by business failure, bankruptcy, loss of my home, and repossession of my car. I remember sitting in a 900 square foot apartment contemplating suicide. However, something inside kept me from finishing it.

In 1987 I remarried and became the step-father to four children. We struggled financially, which always put pressure on the marriage. My new wife carried the baggage of past abuse. I entered the marriage with a badly damaged ego and no understanding of how to make a relationship work. The first eight years were difficult and despite our emptiness managed to stay together.

As if there were not enough stress in our life, our oldest son left home his Senior year of High School and our oldest daughter entered a relationship filled with physical abuse, alcohol, drugs, and deception, at 15. She too left home. We continued to love both of them and eventually they came back home and finished school.

Years earlier, I had sworn never to set foot inside another church, except for a wedding or funeral, so when my wife and children started going to church, I refused to join them. For over a year I watched as their lives changed. Anger melted away and was replaced by love. Frowns turned into smiles. Arguments became loving discussions. They had something that I wanted, but my own stinking pride stopped me from joining them.

Unbeknownst to me, the Hound of Heaven had been after me for years and finally in 1994 I gave in and attended a church service. It was awesome. A few months later I gave my heart to the Lord, but continued to struggle with many of my old issues. 1997 was my breakthrough year. I attended a Promise Keepers event in Seattle, WA. 56,000 men were there worshipping God. It was as close to heaven as Iíve ever been and that day I was filled with the Spirit and arrived home a changed man.

Over the next few years I served in Menís Ministry, taught some classes, and helped out with events. 2001 brought with it an exciting new challenge; partnering with a small band of people to start a church. None of us had ever planted a church, so we inquired of the Lord and He directed us. We were obedient and He blessed us beyond imagination.

It was around that time, during a weekly menís Bible study, when I received a very strange vision. I saw myself sitting behind a desk in the church office. During my prayer time the next day, I asked the Lord about this vision. He said that I was to be a Pastor at the church. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I gave Him all the reasons why I couldnít be a Pastor, including my terrible past and that I hadnít been to seminary or Bible school. He reminded me that Saul had a much worse background and the disciples were, for the most part, an uneducated bunch.

As an Associate Pastor, God has used me to touch many lives. He also blessed my obedience with financial freedom and a wonderful marriage. Lifeís best lessons are learned through experience and God uses those experiences (good and bad) to create a masterpiece in the lives of those who love Him.

Member Comments
Member Date
Al Boyce08/30/04
Nice testimony Rod. Lots of parallels to my own story (and many others I've heard). Thanks for sharing!
Lynda Lee Schab 08/30/04
Wonderful testimony - an awesome example of God's grace in action! It's sad how man's wrong thinking (like the church you first mentioned not allowing you to remain a member if you didn't commit monetarily) keep us from experiencing God's best!
There were a few small typos but that didn't detract at all from the message you were sending.
Great job! Blessings, Lynda
L.M. Lee08/30/04
your last paragraph was the truth about life and how God takes whatever we give Him...good piece!
Kenny Paul Clarkson08/30/04
Experience makes a difference.
Melanie Kerr 08/31/04
I like the expression "The Hound of Heaven" and the idea of God not letting go.
Lucian Thompson08/31/04
Rod, you can replace your name with mine, and many others, I am sure, and the story remains the same. Your experience mirrors so many of those called to minister. What set us apart from some others is that, in spite of our failures, we said yes to God when we heard His call. I pray that this article will touch all those who read it and set them free to do likewise.
darlene hight09/01/04
Now that is learning for a lifetime! This is a good read! Very compelling!
Roberta Kittrell09/06/04
I echo both Lynda's and Lucian's comments.

I believe it is Steve Green who said, "He who has been forgiven much, loveth much."

I've found, the farther up from the miry clay God has rescued us, the more malleable we are and the more He can use us. Keep on serving Him!