Summary: The first step is faith. Despite what others may think your journey begins now and it begins by saying yes to Jesus.
I remember in my late twenties, I had moved several times, and I was going back to what had been home to me during my high school years. I was going to be staying with some old friends, you know the ones, the ones that know all your stories, that know the “real” you, the ones that know all those secrets that as kid you’d do anything to keep secret, and as an adult you wish would have just never happened at all.
They were the ones that were there when you snuck out of the house, the ones that knew exactly what happened to the neighbor’s cat all the time, or the ones that you crashed your first party with. These friends were part of some crashing, that over time, became a lot more damaging to me and to them. We shared some very dark times together, and sadly, these times and their darkness were of our own making. Satan had an open season on parts of our lives. In the end, they were friends that had seen my spiral downward begin, while their worlds were collapsing around them too.
The difference between us even then was that I knew God, intimately and personally. He was real to me. I had chosen to rebel against everything I knew in my heart to be true. But these friends of mine did not know God, not that I hadn’t, in better days tried to tell them about Him. I can at least remember invitng them to youth group a few times. But none of that mattered now. They watched as I proudly turned my back on Him, denouncing even His ability to help me as I continued to try and walk further and further away from Him.
But years had passed since those days. Things had changed. I was the CEO of my own company. And doing well financially. So I was going back home, and back to see them, and I figured we were all at least a little more grown up. So how bad could things be?
I had left the lifestyle that was destroying me, and I assumed that they had too; and of course we still shared one thing in common, and it was the reason for us getting back together in the first place. We were all Padres fans, diehard Padres fans. For those of you that don’t follow baseball take some pity on us. It means that we suffered a lot, following a losing team year after year, going to game after game in the cheap seats and loving your team no matter how bad they kept getting beat down. But, heck, that year the Padres were in a pennant race and even had a chance to make it all the way to the World Series.
The trip was especially exciting for me to look forward to, because I was going to get to see a double header (that’s two games in a row for you non baseball fans), and they were games that would possibly determine if the Padres were going to be the champs of their division. Now all I had to do when I got there was relax, have fun and be myself. By that I mean, I knew I had to tell them about the fact that my life was not the same anymore. That I had powerfully reconnected with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that nothing in the world was more important to me. That I was a part time youth minister. And I know you’re thinking…hey you’re a preacher, that’s easy for you. It’s what you do. You know, telling people about Jesus and all that. That’s your job. Well, no friends, it’s not always easy. Not for any of us. Especially when it comes to the truth and telling it to those closest to you. To tell all of you the truth, I was terrified they wouldn’t believe me. That they would think I was crazy. And treat me weird. I was also afraid I might give in and just say nothing about Jesus at all. And all the time I was preparing to go on this trip I just kept praying that God would give me the right words to say.
On the flight from San Antonio to San Diego, I was rereading for the umpteenth time C.S. Lewis’ "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." I don’t know why in particular. But as I was reading it, a simple soft truth came tumbling out. I love it when God does that. There is something about traveling and books, and time with God. Something that, in my life anyway, has made for some great moments of simple revealed truth. Maybe its just being somewhere different that does it.