The God of October 17, 1998

Today is a very special day for me.  It was exactly nine years ago today that God got a hold of me.

Until that time I had a bad drinking problem, was severely depressed, had no hope, and everything was falling apart.  It was pretty miserable!  I was living in Berlin (Maryland–not Germany), and delivering pizza for a grimy local dive.

Exactly nine years ago tonight, I was driving back from my last delivery and suddenly felt God’s presence in a powerful way.  It was so overwhelming that I had to pull off on the side of the road at the South Ocean Pines entrance.  Two tangible sensations were overpowering me: On the one hand, I was painfully aware of my own sinfulness.  It hit me how displeasing my lifestyle was to God, and I knew how desperate I was.  At the same time, my whole being was flooded with His grace.  I knew He offered to forgive me and make me a completely new person in Jesus Christ.

I was in a daze as I drove back to the restaurant and helped close it down for the night.  When I got back home, I got all the alcohol I had there, which was a fifth of scotch.  I stepped out in the backyard under a clear, starry night.  After taking the cap off, I held the bottle out and turned it upside down until every last drop had fallen on the ground.

No sooner was the bottle completely empty than I was completely filled.  My greatest, most present reality at that moment became Ephesians 5:18 (which I didn’t even know at the time): “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

Since that time I’ve not touched a drop of alcohol.  The next day I went and sat in a bar just to make sure this thing was real.  (I wouldn’t recommend that–I just didn’t know any better.)  I ordered nachos and a big, tall, cold glass… of Dr. Pepper.

Not only did God free me that day from a bunch of stuff–drinking, cigars, cussing, to name just a few–but He also filled me with His joy, with His purpose, with His life.  He filled me with newness.  So I learned early on that following Jesus Christ doesn’t simply mean avoiding bad stuff; it means enjoying all the good stuff–enjoying God’s best that He so freely gives us.

Several days later I made a friend, Josh, in a Christian chat room.  Turned out he also lived in Berlin.  He invited me to his small group Bible study, hosted and led by his brother Daryl.  Daryl would eventually become the best man at my wedding.  We were called into pastoral ministry together.  We preached our first sermons at the same church, which was pastored by his dad.  And a few short years later, he would invite me to come on board as an associate pastor at the new church he had planted, SonRise Church.

It was through Josh that I also met this girl named Carolyn.  She now has my last name, and I pastor the church where she went at the time.

God is amazing, huh?  And every October 17th, I marvel in awe of this amazing God.

Published in: on October 17, 2007 at 7:02 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So…what was the “grimy, local pizza dive”??

  2. Captain’s in White Marlin Mall. It was where Ledo’s is now.

  3. That’s an awesome testimony, Nathan. Thanks for sharing. I knew a guy who had a similar experience on Holly Grove Rd. (West Ocean City) and God delivered him from drugs and alcohol, among other things. Great to know that God’s still in the “Damascus Road experiences” business! 🙂

  4. Wow, that’s cool. Yeah, God is definitely still doing the Damascus Road thing, and apparently using other roads as well!

  5. God is amazing! It was through Josh that I met Shawn, around the same time that you met Carolyn and here we all are 9 years later. 🙂

  6. Yep! Pretty amazing, huh?

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