When I decided to do a blog I knew that I would want to go back and talk about what has happened so far and how God has made his presence known through out this trial. That raised the question, “When did God start moving in my life to prepare me for this?” Well, we could go all the way back to providing me with godly parents, grandparents, a childhood in church, etc … We could go back to God drawing Lori and I together. For there is NO WAY that I could manage any of this without her. What about when he blessed me with two wonderful children? However, I think the most logical place to start is where God really grabbed my heart. In 2008 around Christmas I was given an opportunity to go to Mexico on a mission trip with Hands and Feet Ministries. I was paired up with a great group from Burnt Hickory Baptist Church from Acworth/Kennesaw area. It was an amazing trip and blew me away. It taught me that even in my everyday life that I must rely heavily on prayer and guidance from Christ. On the flight home, a new friend let me listen to his iPod and suggested I listen to Matt Chandler, a young gun reformed Baptist preacher out of Texas, and I was hooked. Chandler spoke to me on many different levels and quickly became a staple on my iPod and I listened to him almost every time I was in the car. While listening to some of his archived sermons, I found a sermon about one of Matt’s parishioners that had been diagnosed with a nasty cancer. The thrust of the sermon talked about how this guy “suffered well” in the face of a devestating diagnosis. With a family to worry about, his health, finances, funeral planning, treatments that were rough, all the bad things … this man always turned his conversations to Christ and how God’s blessing flowed even during this horrible time in his life. This sermon stuck in my head and I thought about it often.
During Thanksgiving a few years later Matt collapsed and after numerous test, was diagnosed with his own “nasty cancer”. A brain cancer that had to be removed, most likely would leave him unable to speak, and one with a heart breaking prognosis. Matt was very open about his health, through video and text blogs, even in his sermons. He talked about his disease and always talked about how God was working in his life and how blessings flowed even during rough time in his life. He gave me a week by week example of what it meant to “suffer well”.
To be honest, Chandler has sort of slid off my radar. I listen to him from time to time and he still sets me on fire every time I listen to his sermons. He truly is a man on fire for God. His sermons and testimony of his life made a huge impact on me. And to think, God is filling me with this several years before I would ever need to tap the strength and confidence that came from this young gun pastor, fiery sermons, and a new friend I met in Mexico in 2008.