Hey. It’s been a while. Sorry, it’s not you. I promise, it’s me. God is so good, isnt He? I mean I know we read that, hear that and say that all the time, but seriously- who is like our God? He is the most loving, kind, faithful and AHHHHH words fail. Sometimes I wonder if even He struggles to describe Himself in our limited language (remember “I am that I am”?). This past week I was in New Hampshire with reNew, a ministry that I am one of the leader’s of, for a two night mini conference. We have been there once before and anticipation was high for what God would do. There were many amazing things that happened and I am sure that at some point I will write or speak about many of them, but there were a few things that blew my mind on a personal level.
As you may or may not know in another life, long before I began to live for and in Jesus Christ, I was a little on the ummm wild side. Okay a lot on the wild side. During that time, about 13 years ago I spent some time in the very same town in New Hampshire. I was in a place in my life where I lived for the next high, and I spent the majority of my time there in a drug induced haze, before the snow chased me back to south Florida. Had somebody told me that I would be back one day with my wife and a group of my closest friends, to lead people into the presence of God and see lives saved and chains broken, well, I would have laughed hysterically. reNew is a worship/teaching collab, and I speak at the events. Honestly I didn’t know what I was gonna speak about the first night until halfway through the last song before I took the stage. I had a message all prepped but as the worship went on I felt like God was leading me in a different direction.
I honestly cant tell you exactly what I spoke about point by point, but I do remember talking a lot about the new life we have in Christ, that we are actually new creations- the old man dead on the cross with Christ, and a new man seated with Him in heavenly realms now lives! I gave a chance for response to the gospel, and a lot of people came forward to surrender their lives. I made my way off the stage and joined the prayer teams, praying with people. Suddenly I heard a voice “Roy” I looked over and there stood “Chris”. I’ll call him that for privacy sake. I couldn’t believe it, I hadnt seen him in 13 years- he was the one I hung out with the most during my brief stay in New Hampshire 13 years ago. I looked surprised I’m sure and said “Hey bro how are you?” the look on his face said more than any words could and I asked if he wanted to go in a different room and talk. He said yeah and we walked into the music room, which adjoins the auditorium at the high school, where we were holding reNew. To make a long story short I ended getting to pray with him and for him, as he called out to Jesus to be the Lord of his life! It was one of the coolest moments of my life, watching his face actually change and he began laughing and smiling as the years of guilt and shame were washed away by the love of God. He told me “ I haven’t smiled like this in years”. I was wrecked. I couldn’t stop thanking God for what He had done, and even later that night, I found myself telling God how thankful I was, over and over.
The next night was more of the same and then, reNew New England was done. The team spent Sunday going to some local churches, and a lot of hanging out with some of the amazing people that we have come to know in the area. There is a group of young people up there that are absolutely consumed with Jesus and they stoke us to be around them! After dinner and a lot of late night goofiness, someone mentioned that one of the young guys in the group wanted to be baptized. It was about midnight and I told him” if you want I’ll baptize you right now”. The conversation turned to where, and someone happened to mention a pond, just down the road. Well, five minutes later we were loaded into a truck and heading to the pond. It was 32 degrees out and felt colder than that. As we pulled up to the pond it hit me. I knew this place. Iv’e been here before. In the back of my mind a memory of a summer night 13 years before tumbled around. Me and some friends had been here swimming. Almost as if I was thinking about a story I’d been told about someone else, I remembered swimming in that pond- back then it had been called by a different name, because it was owned by different people, but it was the same pond. As we hopped out and went about the baptism, I didn’t really feel the cold water, or the icy grass. I was vaguely aware of the frigid air but mostly I was aware of Him. My Father. The Redeemer. The One who makes all things new. I bet He was stoked, as He saw yet again, the amazing ability of His love to make all things work together for my good.
I began to realize that my life had really come full circle. As I thought about it I realized that my life is really just a ridiculous story of His redemption and grace. Of everything dying and all things being made new. I drove quite a bit of the ride home, and I was pretty quiet. I spent a lot of time thinking about the amazing grace of my Father. I was overwhelmed by the feeling that my life is perfectly on the path He has for me. I don’t know where that path leads, and I’m okay with that, because lets be honest- I would have never thought I’d be where I am today. I can’t wait to see what’s next. I have an amazing wife and kids, and the community that I get to do life with, is like none I’ve ever known. I cant wait to see where He leads, and while I know the story of my redemption was finished on the cross, I love reading each new day like a page, because the Author, well, He’s amazing!