My story comes in regular and shortened version. This is shortened one with just enough details for you to see Jesus has real power and nobody is beyond His reach. Not even me. Not even you.
People naturally put their trust in things of this world for comfort or purpose. Might be people close to you, status, school, job, money, government, your church. You don't want those as your foundation and I learned the hard way about all of them. Quick examples.
I lived in many places but grew up rural. I do enjoy BBQ, guns, and campfires but country life was boring. Some of us liked TV, games, and science. We mostly dreamed of better lives in other places. I was mentally gifted but socially and physically weaker. I was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge and full of great ideas but no focus and a terrible procrastinator. People already exclude and mock nerds. Worse, the black school I went to also made me hate being white since nothing we did, except evil, counted. They'd cut us down and attack us. (There were good folks that kept me from being a hater). I learned to dodge problems or verbally take on whole crowds. Trying to be black and show out to fit in got more hate. Being half-white / half-black stuck with me. Walked a tight rope with no group to belong to. I started thinking through everything I did, worrying what people thought, and being ready for any problem. Dreaming big, worrying, and procrastinating stay bad habits. White, suburban schools were much easier but I was also a teenager with those problems.
In high school, many things happened: learned about programming/hacking, found Jesus, and 9/11 and Iraq. Computers turned my imagination into reality and put me in control (life didn't). We watched 9/11 live in class. It had many of us ready to serve and fight terrorists. Our President lying that Iraq was behind it killed more Americans than 9/11 itself, maimed tens of thousands, and killed hundreds of thousands of innocents overseas. The media, esp Fox, would lie that we were successful while overseas outlets would show videos of bombs missing and kids dying. Like Vietnam. Can't trust our institutions.
In church, people talked a focus on Christ until it cost them time, money, or worldly attachments. The Bible said Spirit brought holiness, love, and truth. Their jokes, movies, everything were sinful. They rarely helped folks different from them, kept lying about science, and most just seemed as fake as everyone else. Maybe our good moments were built on lies that make us feel good. I walked out on church and God. Apostasy is like re-crucifying Jesus: some said I'd never be forgiven.
I became a principled, fun, bad boy. I'd solve our problems myself. I'd take a path, learn from the best, do my thing, and move on. Sometimes stuck doing and having nothing. Highlights: Overcame social anxiety working high-volume retail. I became world-class at tech for computer security and boosting human potential. Researcher, educator, reformer (civil rights / anti-corruption), business expert, partier, martial artist, made a few people pick-up artists. Cops, spies, and gangsters respected me.
I entertained or enraged all with satirical comedy that mostly covered my worries. Tore people up over fake politics and religion. Whereas, I gave away real knowledge for free to anyone it would help. Boosted many underdogs. I was mainly motivated by ego and empathy. So many threats and PTSD, I overcompensated by outdoing everyone and being outwardly invincible. Inwardly, I felt others' pain like it was my own, saw a world full of it, my solutions couldn't go anywhere, and had insomnia and drank heavily for years.
I was probably about to build my masterpiece, business, and/or prison sentence if government got tired of me. Having other plans, God attempted to humble me with a brain injury: my knowledge, skills, and even memory of most of my life went... poof! I refused to bow, rebuilt my life, and friends joked I was like Jason Bourne. So, God both let Satan pile problems on and protected me from worst damage (esp myself). Those years are a blur to me.
The breaking point eventually came. My soul was already calling since His sheep hear His voice. His absence left a hole nothing else filled. He let Satan dump more on me: college and hospital debt; knees, liver, and car start failing; relative had $350,000 bail we had to help with; staff cuts had me sprinting 13 hours a day, once 18.5, serving angry customers; some other catastrophic problems. Practically crawling under the weight, I called to an "unknown God" saying, if He helped me, I'd do better and even pull others up with me on my way up. God responded quickly with piles of coincidences putting me with high-potential people that showed up out of nowhere. All said they were Christians. We helped each other.
As He sent people, Satan sent a woman that seemed principled, bad, and fun like me to fake befriend me. She needed help out of a deep rut, too. Long story short, she set me up three times at work, including stalking and sexual harassment, to force my bosses to transfer her to a higher-paying job she didn't want to earn. Bypass the competition. After repeatedly praying for and blessing my enemy, God mostly moved her out the way. He re-taught me humility, gentleness, and patience. I asked why if not to help the people He sent me.
Coronavirus Panic hit my very next shift. It seemed almost everyone started acting as selfish, evil, and chaotic as they do in movies when the world is ending. The good people just trying to take care of their families were helpless. I canceled starting a business to focus on helping them even though COVID might kill me (immune disorder). Praying, reading the Bible, and good works were all I knew to do. I wore a shirt with the Word of God on it so it would work while I worked.
I asked God how to serve Him right. God used a combo of that shirt, following specific commands, and narrow coincidences (signs) to point me at a woman who overflowed with love for Jesus Christ. I had forgotten what that even looked like. She brought me to the Mercy Hill Bible Study where I re-learned about our goals to become one with Christ, get sanctified through Him, and see who He is in all of Scripture.
I stayed serving Him and others up to 12-13 hours a day. I prayed 1.5-5hrs a day. God *really* responded. Some highlights: a vivid prophecy that came true that boosted my faith, my mind transformed, feelings trauma took away returned, service impacts on hundreds of people, many uplifts I couldn't possibly do, two healings, what looked like a demon cast out of another, many divinely-orchestrated events, a five-digit debt cancelled, enemies moved out the way, what I needed (even an appliance) showing up in odds ways, others' "luck" turning around when I asked Him on their behalf. Many answered prayers. Cured boredom, too: haven't felt that since June 2020. I've kept a daily journal of everything that's happened. Like John said, I couldn't begin to write a full testimony of all that's happened.
Most important, who I am, my life, and others lives around me have changed for the better in ways we'd all have said were impossible just last year. Psalm 116 comes to mind. He brought me back, cleansed me of all that pain and filth inside, put His love and peace in me, and set me on fire with the Spirit to serve Him. Although an undeserving sinner, my life now and till death will testify to the steadfast love and transforming power of our God via the redeeming Blood and Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Note: Currently at Longview Heights Baptist Church (The Well). Still love and miss my brothers and sisters at Mercy Hill Baptist Church. Visit either one if you want to meet people who love Jesus. I also wrote a big-picture version of the Bible here for anyone interested.
(Read the Gospel, learn evangelism, check out other essays, or go back to the home page.)