My first encounter with our loving God was in March of 1994 while we were living in Ankeny, Iowa. I had recently accepted new employment as an Engineering Tech.2 with a Consulting Engineering firm after the manufacturing company in Osceola, Iowa closed ending my employment as Engineering Project Coordinator. Osceola had been good to me, I had experienced rapid success and was very fortunate to have worked with an extremely talented and experienced group of people.
Osceola was also my wife’s home town and we had both attended high school there. So after being absent from the community for several years, we returned to open our own business and I also worked for a local manufacturing company. We worked hard and most of the time long hours, through ups and downs, but prospered overall in almost everything we did. We were home and prospering, surrounded by family and friends, the stuff dreams are made of.
On one occasion I remember a return flight home from the corporate office located in Memphis, Tennessee and thinking to myself: you know, this small town farm boy hasn’t done to badly for himself. The business trips were frequent and took me away from family but I had met some wonderful new people living in beautiful parts of the country where I had never traveled before. My career seemed successful and the business was doing well. We were thankful for our prosperity and our new and old friends. We patted ourselves on the back for our achievements and thanked many friends who had in some way contributed. We gave thanks to everyone, everyone except God. Never once did we stop to thank our Lord, never once did we give God praise or credit for all of our blessings.
Then the announcement came, the manufacturing plant was closing, I was losing my job. The corporate office had decided to consolidate and was moving the company to Newburn, Tennessee. The announcement was made and I had six months to find another job while helping orchestrate the removal of equipment and the relocation of an entire manufacturing facility.
My wife and I decided to sell our business and relocate to Ankeny, IA. where I had accepted employment as an Engineering Tech II with a Consulting Engineering firm. We sold our business and home, relocating for what I thought would be the next step in my career. And after seven years in the restaurant business, my wife and I were both tired of the hours. We were both excited and ready to move on in our careers with my wife returning to banking to her original career path of banking.
Those were our plans, but little did we know that God was also looking at the lives. Looking at the paths he originally intended us to walk and how far we had strayed. God was planning events that would challenge us to reevaluate our lives and make new choices.
The Engineer was standing beside me physically slamming his fist into the top of the old drafting table and shouting at the top of his lungs. This was my knew job, the next step in my career. The entire design department cowered while eyes peered over the top of adjacent cubicles as the old drafting table received blow after blow.
I had been instructed to revise the Engineers designs by the company Vice President who reviewed them as being incomplete and the Engineer resented the changes since he had not been informed or consulted. It was just another day of the same foul language and turbulent atmosphere I’d experienced from almost day one in this company. There were a few people who seemed to be of good character and ethics here, but very few. Needless to say my hopes of being successful in the company soon expired. I wanted no part of this group and they of me and I soon found myself looking for a way out. I transferred to the field as an Inspector and although I still had limited contact with some of the same people, my new group of peers were much better to work with and I began to think things were going to work out.
This building season had been a very difficult year. An extremely hard winter and a summer of devastating floods made site development and construction extremely difficult. We moved through summer into late fall and with winter rapidly approaching I felt secure in my new position and thought all was well. Winter came and with it a general layoff due to the previous years poor building season. For the first time in my eighteen year career I was out of work with no prospects.
After I was laid off I sat alone typing resume after resume. I couldn’t understand why the resumes were producing such poor results. It was as if the a door had close and opportunity after opportunity passed me bye. Never before had I experienced any problems in finding work. If a man wants to work there’s always a dollar to be made. That’s what I’d said in the past, that’s what I had said until now.
It had been five months of resumes and interviews. I was sending out so many resumes I decided to have a small print shop photo set and make copies for me. When my employment in Osceola ended I was given a nice severance package and this coupled with our savings had gotten us this far, but both would soon be gone. I saw this as being one of the lowest periods in my life and began to feel like a total failure. What I couldn’t see at the time was how God was using these events to reshape a person who had grown proud and self centered. God was using this time to humble me, to remold and reshape me into a usable vessel. And as I found no other place to turn for help, I began pray. I prayed hoping God would hear and help me. I’d prayed daily for weeks but nothing happened, even God didn’t seem to hear me or care.
Until one afternoon I stopped looking through the help wanted ads and prayed once again. This time the tears were flowing as I asked God and Jesus to help me. My heart was sincere and open as I asked our Lord for help: what am I to do, how will I feed my family, where will we live, what am I to do – Lord I’m at the end. Then as I cried this plea to the Lord I was suddenly embraced by the deepest feeling of peace and love. I had never before in my entire life felt anything like this. A love so holy and magnificent, with no beginning or end, no height or depth, no way to measure, and no words which I will ever speak could justify or describe it. The only way I could ever to express this love would be to say if you were to take every love you’ve known over your lifetime: your dad, mother, wife or husband, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, friends, etc., and put them all together, all the love you’ve ever known – they would compare as a grain of sand thrown into the ocean. The love that embraced me was so great had Jesus appeared at that moment and said come with me, I would have left all behind without a single question. His love makes everything else so unimportant and incomplete, there is nothing else that compares.
While our Lords love was being breathed into me, my physical body seemed to be electrified. It was as if every nerve ending in my body was being stimulated with an electric current as wave after wave after wave pulsed through me. The most wonderful and totally alive feeling. A state of grace that is simply overpowering and overwhelming where the body seems to resonate.
Then God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me. No I didn’t hear an audible voice, but when this happens you know its our Lord communicating with you. It’s not like a thought or an impression but it fills you mind pushing everything else aside and is more like knowledge imparted to you. Our Lord told me: “Everything will be all right, but you need to make some changes in your life. Use your head a little less and your heart a great deal more.” That’s all that was said, so very simple but so pure and true.
All of my life had been spent in the Engineering and Design disciplines. In my younger days my favorite school classes were the science’s where everything could be tested and measured. I had attended church when I was younger but then drifted away as I grew older. I still acknowledged that there probably was a God and academically thought I’m a good person, I lead a good life and I think I’ll go to heaven. But I had never felt His love in my heart, not like this. I had no idea that an all consuming love like this even existed. I had never loved Jesus with my all my heart, not like this. Not until I felt His love did I truly understand what He meant by love your brother, your neighbor, your enemy, the world and all of His creation. Not until I felt His love did I truly understand the sacrifice He made for us.
I’m not sure how long my first encounter with our Lord lasted. It seemed to last only a few minutes but when it was over I found the Lord had given me two gifts. With the skill of a surgeon He had literally reached into my chest and removed a cold hard worldly heart and replaced it with a renewed one. God had given me a brand new heart in those few short moments that was filled with His presence and grace. God had just touched me with his glory and I would never be the same again.
In the day’s that followed I discovered His second gift. When I prayed the same sensation of electricity came over me time and time again. Jesus had left me with the Great Comforter and a hunger to understand and learn more. So I started on my quest to know God and our Savior Jesus Christ. I started reading His word and praying several times a day to Him. The more I communicated with Him the more electrified my prayers became. This new heart He gave to me was so wonderful but oh so tender. When I wanted to tell someone of my experience I found that I couldn’t. My throat would knot up and I would begin to tear, the harder I tried the larger the knot in my throat became. Our Lord had touched me so deeply but it was as if He didn’t want me to share. I tried at times to relate this to members of my family but was not able. Yet God had placed a burden upon my heart to share this with my family, friends, and all who would listen. But there it was, every time I tried to share I would stumble and choke up. This tender new heart that God had given me was not being released to share and I didn’t understand why.
Then as time passed I learned more of His word and as I walked further with Him I was slowly released to share with family and friends. Of course now I know the Holy Spirit was leading me and that God wanted me to walk further with Him before releasing me to share. He wanted my faith to grow, for my spirit to mature and to understand more of His desire for my life.
God was also preparing me through his overwhelming love and walk for the dark day’s that lie ahead and my second encounter Him. One of the darkest days of my life when my son would tell me he was Gay. That heart breaking day would reveal a secret life of drugs and Raves. Drugs that had altered his mind and threatened to destroy him. Drugs that took a normal baseball playing boy and altered his mind to perceive himself as a girl in a boy’s body. Pretending to stay overnight with friends while staying out until dawn at Raves. “Dad I’m Gay,” I never knew this Dads heart could hurt this much. My only son, the son I had waited years for. My dreams of who he would become, what kind of a man he would be, what he would do with his life. The dreams and time we would spent together, what I would teach him, the fun we’d had while he growing and learning to be a good man were gone. He hated me now, our home had literally taken on the atmosphere of a locked down prison. It was straight to school and back home with no exceptions. We were even forced to remove all window access handles and perform nightly bed checks after running away on two occasions. Our son wanted the Raves and the drugs more than he wanted live and at times we feared greatly that he would harm himself physically.
Until your in a battle for a family members life, soul, and spirit, you’ll never realize what you’re willing to do to protect their life. I even threatened to turn my son into the state authorities for treatment rather than find him in the gutter dead. This happened after his so called friends abandoned him at a local all night restaurant so stoned he couldn’t make it home that night as the temperature fell to -10 degrees below zero. Had the restaurant turned him out in the cold I’m not sure he would have made it.
These so called friends who were several years older than my son and offered him transportation to the Raves and access to their drugs. It was only later in hindsight that my wife and I began to see the web our family was entangled in. How young boy’s are brought into an underground life of drugs and Raves by older people who pretend to be their friends by giving them drugs. Drugs that alter the innocent younger boys personalities while they are being introduced to older Gays at the raves. We believe that had not God interceded when he did we would have lost our son. We thank God for opening our eye’s to our own disbelief that our son would be involved with drugs. We thank God that our son was not another face on a milk carton, or another Johnny.
We sought professional Christian counseling and after being on a month long waiting list finally took our son to see a very respected counselor. The Doctor was kind man but after several months of counseling finally said nothing was going to change. He told us there were some other Doctors who claimed to have had partial success in returning clients to their original personality through electric shock therapy, but he would not recommend it. His final suggestion was to take our son home, love and accept him as he is.
There was nothing more that could be done. The Doctor recommended a Psychiatrist but other than that go home and love him as he is now. This was so hard for me to accept. Gay stood for everything I was against. How could I accept that one day when my son was older he would come home for Thanksgiving dinner and introduce us to his boyfriend. Certainly not the dream I had for my son. Yet he was my son and I did love him. This darkness that had fallen over our lives caused such uncertainty in my heart. On one hand this fathers heart felt robbed of his son, of the pride and joy I was entitled to have while watching my son grow into a man. Watching him achieve the dreams he once shared me. Seeing him marry and have his own family, carry on his family name. All of those dreams seemed far away now.
But at the same time this new heart that God had given me was telling me to learn forgiveness for those who had done this to my son and to learn His way to love. God was showing me the endless depths of His love when He sent His only son to die for us. God loved His son as I loved mine and was showing me how much more my love and forgiveness needed to grow. This was the love I had felt in my first encounter, a love that forgives all and makes the greatest of sins pardonable. A love that simply makes peace with the world through His Holy Grace because we have all fallen short of His glory, we are all equally fallen.
My wife took our son to the recommended Psychiatrist who identified an attention deficit and prescribed medication but nothing more. His diagnosis was the same as the other doctor with little hope for improvement in any area other than the A.D.D. My wife and I continued to pray through our Lord Jesus that God would deliver our son from drugs and a Gay life style. I prayed with an open heart as one Father to another and expressed to God that I loved my son the same way he loved His and that I wanted and needed him back just as God had a need for His son to return home. Although I knew my son really belonged to God, that he was a gift given to me for a short time to share. Even in knowing this I found it difficult for sometimes end my prayers with “thy will be done.” I spoke to God and Jesus about this, prayed about it, and thought about it until some times I felt like it might not be His will. But at the same time I knew that God wanted only the best for us all and what had befallen my son certainly didn’t come from His grace.
One day I had to drive to St. Joe, Missouri. on business and on my way there and back I listened to the Christian tapes and prayed for my son to be delivered. On my return drive home the Lord impressed upon me in once again what I can only describe as knowledge, almost like a download given so quickly it’s more knowledge than individual words. “In my own time”, that’s all there was. Such a short but reassuring message. I was filled with hope and knew there was still a chance. I also remember sensing that the Lord was a little irritated with me because of my impatience. But I knew He understood, this is my son and I need him back, please hurry.
Then one evening I had my second encounter with the living and loving God.
A few weeks had passed since my trip to St. Joe and nothing seemed to be happening, I was getting impatient again. Every day I was praying for my son to be delivered but nothing was happening. Then one evening I was praying with an open heart and the tears started flowing as I ask the Lord to heal my son. That’s it I thought “Heal” my son. I’ll change my prayer thinking, this is a sickness of the mind and I’ll treat it as such, I’ll pray for him to be ‘Healed’. And I also said God, if you will do this for me, if you will make my son whole again, you can take my life right now.
I had no more than asked God and Jesus to heal my son when suddenly the Lord was in my head again imparting this knowledge and truth : “I only heal those who believe.” Then at that same moment the sensation of localized electricity, this tingling sensation started on the back of my head and on my lower back, at two separate locations. Both started as small localized area’s and then increased in size and intensity until both locations felt warm, almost as if they were vibrating. They grew in size and intensity until both were about the size of a persons hand, then each warm location independently but simultaneously sent out a narrow path of the same warm electrified sensation up and down my spine until they were united in the middle of my back. I’m not sure how long this lasted, it was over pretty quickly and was so unexpected that it frightened me. At first I wasn’t sure what has just happened but after a couple of minutes passed I knew without question. An old injury I had suffered with for three years, a partially ruptured disc in my lower back had just been healed. Jesus had just healed me.
I was so frightened as I thought to myself this is real, God almighty himself has just touched me through our Savior Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit. For the first time in my life I felt so small, venerable and how really mortal we are. For the first time I new what it was like to fear God, knowing that no matter where you are he does see you, hear you, and can touch you in whatever way he wishes. I know this sounds strange, I was just blessed by His stripes and thankful but at the same time I was also frightened by His touch. To be honest with you it frightened me so much that I slowed my walk with the Lord for several weeks. I waited for a full week before I told my wife, I wanted to be sure this was real and going to last. But there it was, this was real, no question about it, the pain was now gone. This happened in August of 1999 and the pain has not returned.
Then in early 2000 our son came to us and told us he was no longer Gay or doing drugs. God had done what the doctors said wouldn’t happen. A Mothers and Fathers prayers were answered and God was giving us back our son. I’ve never heard sweeter words than those spoken by him that day, “Dad, I’m not Gay anymore.” God had done in His time that which Man could not do.
We give all the glory to God through our beloved savior Jesus Christ.
It’s now 2002 and we’ve just celebrated two years of drug free life with our son. We’re still not all the way home yet. We still have a teenager who’s trying to find himself, searching new paths and trying new ideas. But we have our son back.
We give God all the glory and praise through our Lord Jesus and thank the Holy Spirit. What lies ahead for us, I can hardly wait. I hunger for our Lords presence, He fills me to overflowing.
Some will ask why I’m sharing this with you. It’ because of His overwhelming love I was allowed to experience, the peace and the physical state of grace that embraced me through His Holy Spirit. The knowledge that there truly is a Heaven filled with Gods glory that awaits us all. And when it’s my time to go, when I stand before our Holy Father with Jesus Christ by my side during judgment and God asks me what I did with the new heart he gave me. I’ll knell in his presence and answer that I gave a piece of it to you.
God has put upon my heart to share this with family and friends. I’ve been blessed by God reveling himself to me through our Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit on three occasions. If I can strengthen the faith of one believer or set one unsure person on the path to believing, then His will is done.