I was born in 1967 and I was raised in a much different culture than today. I remember both of my parents worked hard and we would appreciate an occasional stop at a fast food place. My parents worked hard as Dad bought a 40 acre farm when I was younger. He learned to farm, work full time at a factory, and coach sports when my brother and I got old enough to play.
Mom was a Christian and I never fully understood what it meant up until a few years ago when I had an event change my life forever. I hope this story helps people understand and God gets the glory he deserves.
We were never a family that attended a church growing up, but I had visited some and participated in Campus Life occasionally in my younger pre adult years. Most importantly, I was a baseball and football player trying to figure out which click I fit into.
I graduated from Fremont High School in 1985 and fell in love with Lisa. She was a blessing at a point in my life where I needed it; by 1992 we bought our first house and we had 2 boys, one in 1993 and the other in 1996. Life was happening!
I loved having kids, as I taught them how to play sports, hunt, and fish. This is what I knew. I didn’t do very well with church. For me it was a couple of things. I had a hard time understanding the bible and making money was my focus on raising the kids, not knowing God.
Within ten years of buying our new home, I was making more money than we needed. I had a very nice home, a boat, a camper, and had felt that I did a good job as a father and husband. We received devastating news that Lisa had breast cancer in the early 2000’s. We ended up at Cleveland Clinic where I saw sickness everywhere, even with little kids. It was a horrible reality.
Making money and having insurance was the challenge I faced so my character had started to change.
As a manager I started becoming more focused on company success. I continued to become more of a “company man” as my Dad would call it. I was not a very ethical person and success seemed to be a primary goal, and ethics wasn’t.
I watched Lisa go through the chemo treatments and get very sick. I managed to answer the tough questions the kids had about Mommy. She was diagnosed in remission after several scary months of her treatments!
Our celebration was short lived as a couple of years later we found out her cancer came back in her lungs; stage four. I was terrified during the doctors’ appointment when I asked
“How bad is it?”
His answer was
“There is no stage five.”
Her treatments started over, this time with a drug that didn’t make her lose her hair but caused some joint pain and aches.
I continued to work and make a lot of money. I had let myself go and was tipping the scale at 400# in June of 2013 when I received a phone call that would end up changing my life. I had been on the phone in my car on the way work to Shipshewana with a bill collector who was explaining to me that the medical payback arrangement was no longer being accepted because my credit card had expired.
As I parked my car in the parking lot at work I flew into a fury of words on the phone with the woman I had been speaking with.
“Are you kidding me?!”
I asked what kind of person would do this to other people. I felt like I was talking to the Devil himself…
I was just tired of trying so hard. I had been praying so hard! Why was this happening to me?!
We had started going to Zion Missionary in Fremont and I was trying to get to know God more. I needed to lean on Him, and was working to understand things. I had prayed many years for Lisa’s health, our financial struggles, and my kids – WHY!? WHY!? WHY!? I was so mad and confused as I parked my car and stumbled into work.
Later that week after ending up in Parkview, I was diagnosed with a stroke and an aneurism that landed me in an induced coma for about eight weeks. A surgeon on call during this time decided to perform a rare procedure that had showed some success, where he would enter through an artery, find the aneurism, and place a mass of Teflon thread into the area until it stopped bleeding. There was a good chance I would die even afterwards.
He did it, and it worked!
I started feeling God’s presence and love during this time and started telling Lisa God was with me and “were gonna be ok”. I reprogrammed myself to do everything again, and would hear “God’s not finished with you yet” from people who saw the work that He was doing in me. I walked out of rehab by 2014 after many hours of private time thinking about life in general. I started back to work in June and continued with church.
At this point in life I had many questions. Through what seemed to be a strange coincidence, I started meeting with an ex-coach and teacher. I knew he was a Christian and I started asking.
“None of this is by coincidence, Mike – have you ever been saved?”
As a church goer I should have been able to answer but I couldn’t. I didn’t know if I was. He said I could recognize Jesus Christ as my personal savior and spend my life with God as my father; my lord. All of the anger, worry, and frustration about life would eventually become defeated with God as leader. He would be dwelling in my heart.
This sounded pretty good to me. On 9/23/14; with coach I prayed to God –
“God I confess that I am a sinner and I am in need of salvation. I believe Jesus died on the cross and rose again to bring me new life. I ask to receive your forgiveness and grace and choose to follow You as my Lord and savior”. Amen
Since I prayed this prayer God continues to work on me. He is eliminating my desire for sin and is bringing me to Him after I leave this earth. I pray you do the same.
Romans 8:1 – “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”