I needed to do something. Reading the Bible and recognizing It's Truth wasn't the end of this journey. It only fanned the fire that had been kindled in me. Being a non-observant Jew I really did not know what to do next. What was I supposed to do? What was the Bible telling me to do? In my novice understanding was it enough at that moment to just believe? I needed Christians to talk to. Not just Jesus Freaks but people who could grasp the complexity of me. I have to chuckle at myself. Always a little different. Always with special circumstances.
I am a huge fan of my iPod and iTunes. So in December 2008 I started there. I needed more insight and help understanding the Bible and what to do next. There is a search bar on iTunes where I typed in Christianity or something like that and received all types of suggestions for music and books and podcasts. While reading the descriptions there were these free downloads for BibleStudyPodcasts.org. The sequence of events is not so clear to me today but my best recollection is that I must have listened to a podcast or two. Several things struck me about these teachings. First that the gentleman doing the podcasts was very knowledgeable and he conveyed through his teaching that he absolutely without any reservation believed deeply in what he was saying. Remember, deep belief is what tugged at me while I read the "Left Behind" series. His name is Toby Logsdon and at the time he was finishing his seminary degree. I decided to send him an email explaining my situation and see if he had any advice for me.
I remember writing the email and it was like I was throwing out a life line. No response or a cold response would have been disheartening to say the least. There I go again with my expectations . . . I did receive a response, probably that same day and it was to ask me a couple of questions. He asked me who did I believe Jesus to be? Sitting here now thinking back on this it was the perfect question. Any further steps down this path of faith would depend on that answer and that answer alone. And at the time I did not know. I wanted all the answers and understanding right then. More reading and more listening was what it was going to take.
I also needed someone to talk to. I had to talk to someone about what I was experiencing. My wife was afraid and her Catholic upbringing only made her more fearful. But that is her story for her to tell. I had been riding with a motorcycle club for the past 13 years when this journey became visible. We had rubbed elbows with lots of other clubs and I knew of a guy who rode with a club called Bikers for Christ. In fact I had attended the wedding of one of my members that he had officiated. He was a friendly guy and totally on fire for Jesus. One of those guys if you are not a believer can be a little too much to take at times. I had always liked him and he and his wife seemed to have an affinity for my wife and I. So I reached out and got his phone numbers and called and left him a message to call me. Which he did that day or the next. I told him my story and received much encouragement. I agreed to meet him at his church that upcoming Sunday. Being the zealous individual that I knew him to be he got off the phone with me and started calling others in the church to tell them about me. Then strangers started to call me. Understand, at this time in my life I am a gun toting biker, national officer of a motorcycle club and I don't like talking to strangers.
The first call I received was from someone inviting me to a bible study and the second call I received was from a guy named Douglas and he too invited me to a different bible study. I shared my story with him and he shared his story with me. 9 or 10 years ago he was a methamphetamine addict with a lab in his backyard. Now that was something I could relate too. My whole life seemed to be a life lived outside of anything resembling normal. Abuse, addiction, depression, dysfunction, fear, judgement, criticism, anger; lots of anger. Here was someone that although he didn't know me had walked an unconventional path. I needed someone who had obviously fallen in life who knew that pain and the judgement that goes with it.
Today Pastor Douglas and I are good friends. Over the past 2 years he has lifted me up, encouraged me and been a consistent example of a man of faith. A far more consistent example than I can claim for myself. Praise to God for being patient and merciful towards me. God's grace is an undeserved gift that is so easy for me to take for granted. My debt, paid for by Jesus on the cross, is greater than I will ever be able to repay. And whether or not I believe myself to be worthy of such a gift God so loves me that He offered it to me freely. And I love Him for it.
(to be continued)