I was pretty much raised in church, since the age of 7. When I was 25, I backslid from church, for many reasons. I was hurt by members of the church. The more I tried to understand God and why things were happening in the church, the more doubts and unanswered questions I had. This caused me to drift further and further from God.
Many times, during the next 16 years, I tried to go back to church, but it seemed like every time we attempted, things would happen to remind me why I left in the first place. I don’t want to dwell here on the particular reasons why I left my old church, but I do want to say that because of everything that happened, I developed major doubts about the even the existence of God. I started to think that maybe what I experienced was a lie. I mean, how could a loving God, who says that we have a choice to love Him or not, torment those who choose not to love Him? If someone were to do this in our society, we would put them in jail for this crime. Is it really a choice if we choose not to love Him and He tortures us when we choose not to love Him, by sending us to the Lake of Fire for eternity?
During my backslidden years, I spoke to several ministers and friends in the church about my unanswered questions about the “choice” that God has given us, but none could answer to my satisfaction. Nothing ever made sense to me, so I continued turning away from God. Through these years, my family was doing well. My wife and I had really good jobs, making nearly $100,000 a year. We had a nice, big house on a hill, new cars, motorcycle, and some money in our pockets.
Suddenly, in 2002, it all came crashing down! My wife and I both lost our jobs the same year, within 3 months of each other! We hung on for as long as we could, but went through all of our savings and eventually lost the house, cars, motorcycle and everything! My wife is a pharmacy technician with about 15 years of experience, working for Blue Care Network and even U of M Hospital in Ann Arbor, but she couldn’t even get an interview for a possible pharmacy technician position, let alone a job. I am a graphic designer/network administrator with about 15 years of experience, as well, and worked for EDS, GM, Delco, Delphi, and other companies, but couldn’t get an interview, either.
Finally, when we got to the bottom, and the only direction we could go was up, we turned to God. We asked Him to help us and I was able to get a job. It didn’t pay as much as my last job, but was within a few dollars an hour. So I took the job. At least it was a job. It took my wife another year before she got a job. It wasn’t in her field, and it was half the pay, but it was a job. Now, with our financial situation at least afloat, we didn’t need God and stopped talking to Him. Slowly, things started getting bad. My boss was unbearable to work for. I also started getting sick on a regular basis, causing me to miss work, which caused my boss to make it even more difficult to work for. This is the type of person who doesn’t trust anyone and tells you that he doesn’t trust you. He even dug through my trash, while sitting next to me, to see what I had written down and thrown away! He would always come around the corner real fast and look at my monitor to see what I was doing. I was never treated like a grown-up, but a child. So I decided to start my own computer business and leave this job. Since my wife was working, and I already had some customers, I decided to take the plunge. At first, things were going well, but then things got bad, and then worse. For nearly 3 months, I got hardly any computer jobs. I design websites and work on computers and networks, but the work just seemed to disappear. Eventually, we were pretty much living on my wife’s income, which just barely paid the rent, let alone any food, gas, utilities, etc. Things were looking hopeless.
Finally, we got back to the place where there was nowhere else to turn, but God. So, with my tail between my legs, I turned to God and told Him that we are at the bottom again. I told Him that it seems like every time things fall apart, and there is nowhere else to turn, that I come crawling back to Him. I told Him that we have no food, we can’t pay the rent, we have no gas to get to work or get the kids to school (school is a half hour away from our house). The heat was about to be turned off, my business phone was about to be disconnected, without which I couldn’t make any money. My landlord was upset that the rent was again 3 weeks behind, and we had nearly two weeks to go before my wife got paid. I didn’t know what to do, so I told God that if he got us out of this mess that I would serve Him. I told Him that I had to pay the rent within the next few days, and that I needed to feed my family and had no food. I told Him that if he fixed my immediate need and helped with the long-term need that I would know that He really existed and that he cared about me and my family. I also told Him that if he did this for me that I would be a witness for Him, that God does exactly what He says he will do and that all we have to do is ask and He will provide, even to a sinner/backslider like me, who has turned his back on God and gone back on his word so many times. God still loves us and cares about us. I told Him that I would tell everyone about what He did here, if He would get us out of this crisis. In fact, I challenged God to show me his glory and to impress me with a miracle so that my family and I could see that it HAD to be God who did this, that it could in no way be a coincidence that things just got better.
That night, I got a call from a friend of mine who told me that his girlfriend is a manager of a CPA firm and is having problems with her server and all of her computers and wants my help to fix them. He said that it will probably be a really big job, so I could make a good amount of money from them. He asked if I was interested, of which I said, YES! Within a day, I was asked to come out and help them with a problem that their proprietary accounting software company couldn’t help them with, after working with them for days on the problem. I told them that I would give it a shot and that I could probably help them (not even knowing this software or the specific problems that they were having).
On the way to the CPA job, I received a call on my cell phone from another friend of mine, who asked if I was still doing graphic design. I told him that I was mainly doing web design now, but could still do graphic design. He wanted to know if I could do some jobs for him and I gladly told him, yes. He said that it will probably be a few jobs and may turn into regular work, and was I still interested. I said, YES! Since he lost his regular designer, he is going to start sending me the work to do, which I will be able to do from home, and not drive one to two hours away to work at their office. Wow! I was really starting to get impressed with what God was doing and I actually laughed out loud in my car!
While driving to the CPA office, I asked God to help me on this job, since I didn’t know the software. They were also using an older network protocol that I was only vaguely familiar with, and didn’t know if I could help them or not, but since God gave me this job, I knew He would help me figure it out. When I got there, I took a look at what the problem was and had it figured out in 15 minutes. The company who sold them the software had eventually given up on them and told them flat out that they weren’t going to be able to fix the problem. God helped me fix it within minutes! In fact, it scared me that I had it fixed too quickly. Now that they were operational, there was no need to keep me there. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be making very much money on this job. So I spoke to my friend’s girlfriend and told her that I heard that their computers were running pretty slowly and asked if she wanted me to give them tune-ups. She said, yes, and didn’t even ask me how much. It took me 2 days to complete the tune-ups. I also quoted converting their network to a newer network protocol and installing a new server, which was approved by the boss within a day (even though she told me that money was tight and it would probably have to wait a couple of months). Within a few days, I made about $1500 from this company, because of the Lord!
While I was at this CPA firm, I overheard one of the workers there say that she was having trouble with her home computers and her Internet. I asked her if she needed help and she said that she would love some help, but it would probably be a nightmare to work on her problems. I told her that it would be no problem and that I could give her a hand. At lunch time that day, I followed her to her home and looked over her computer problems, after which I came back with a network job and a check for $250!
When I got home, I had a message on my business answering machine that someone else needed help with their computer, and I made another $99 fixing his computer.
The next day, I got a similar call about another computer problem, but this one is turning into a regular client. It is a retired rich person who needs ongoing help with their computer and is looking for a local person to keep their computer running and help with computer training.
Within these couple of days after my prayer to God, I also received a call from a guy who is starting a high-speed wireless Internet service for the Columbiaville, MI area (where I live). A month prior, I agreed to be a reseller for this service, since I too live in Columbiaville, and this would be a great service to offer to our community because there is no high-speed Internet access available. Previously, we had met and had hit if off right away. He also has a small computer company, and by all rights, we should be enemies, since we are competitors. However, that wasn’t the case. We decided to make it work, so that it benefited both of our small companies. Well, one of the services that his company provides is a specialized service that requires him to travel across the U.S., installing and configuring POS systems in various businesses. While on his way back from Wisconsin, recently, his very large, top-heavy van hit some black ice, which caused him to spin out of control. He was on a small, winding road in the hills, where there was no guard railing and there was a steep drop-off. He told me later that it was only by the grace of God that he didn’t roll the van off the embankment, where he would have surely died! If it would have been inches in either direction, the van would have caught in such a way that it would have flipped and went over the cliff! This got him thinking that if he would ever die, that his wife wouldn’t be cared for, since there would be no one to continue working the technical end of the business. So he called me (still within a day or so of my prayer to God about providing for my family) and asked me if I would be willing to be his partner and to take over, should he ever die. He wanted to make it legal and to put it in his will, as well as have a legal agreement with me, explaining what my responsibilities would be, and what percentage of the company I would receive while he is alive, and also after his death. He said that he got a certain vibe from me and he trusts me. He wanted to slowly work me into the business full time and would eventually make me a full partner, making a percentage of the businesses’ profit, plus a regular salary (without buying into his business). This is NEVER done! You don’t just get handed a partnership, where the other partner puts up all of the money. It could only have been the Lord!
One of my promises to God (in return for doing this for me) was that I would tell everyone what He has done. I first told my son. I explained everything that I just told you. Then, I called one of my brothers. I told him that I always wanted to come back to God, but I wanted to do it when things were going well. It seemed like every time things were going badly, I always came crying back to God and he would make things a little better, and then I would drift away. I didn’t want Him to think that I only came to Him because I needed something from Him. I wanted to come back to God because I loved Him and wanted to serve Him, not because I messed up again and needed His help out of another jam (well, it made sense to me). After telling my brother about what God had done for me, I told him that I still had a problem with the “choice” thing. I understand that God is real, since there was a dramatic response to my plea for help, but I still had a problem with being forced to love someone who says you have a choice to love Him, but will torture you if you don’t. Then I heard a little chuckle over the phone line. My brother said that this might be his fault and my father’s. I said that I didn’t understand. He proceeded to tell me that since my family and I had left church, he and my father always prayed for us. They used to pray that the Lord would lead us back to church and that He would bless us and help us. And He did. During this time we were blessed with the good jobs, nice cars, and extra money. Then, he said that he and my Dad noticed that things were going so well for us that it seemed like we thought we didn’t need God any more. Why ask for help if you don’t need it? So, they decided to pray for me in a different way. They started praying for God to do whatever it takes for us to get back into church. After that is when we started losing everything, which caused us to turn back to God and ask for help. It worked, for a short period of time. This was when I got the job after a year of being laid off. And you know the rest.
So, after hearing my brother tell me all of this, it became clear as a bell, and I said, “So YOU are the one! You are the one who is the cause of all of this mess!” And he started laughing. He said that he hoped I wasn’t upset, since he and my Dad may have caused the “Job” effect on my family, but it was to get my attention. Actually, it did get my attention. It took a few years, but I turned back to God. But most of all, I now see exactly what is going on and I also understand the “choice” thing. After fighting with the choice vs. torment conundrum, I finally see. I was looking at it all wrong before. What I thought was happening was that since I wouldn’t love God, He was causing all of these bad things to happen in my life… loss of jobs, house, cars, motorcycle, money, sanity, etc. But that wasn’t the case. It was because I had friends and family praying to God, asking Him to do whatever it takes to get my attention, so that I would turn back to Him. So in reality, it wasn’t even God doing it to me, taking away my choice to not serve him, it was the prayers of God-loving people that caused my financial downfall, which in turn, caused me to turn back to God for help. God wasn’t taking away my choice, and twisting my arm so that I would love Him. He was answering prayers of people whom He had given a choice, and chose God.
When I realized what was happening, I broke down and cried on the phone, while talking with my brother. I told him that it was the first time in 16 years that I finally understood the “choice” thing, and that we truly did have a choice. And I finally understood that when we don’t choose God, he doesn’t twist our arm until we choose Him. He twists our arm when people, who chose to love Him, ask Him to do so. He is just answering prayer. So, once I understood this, I told my brother to ask God to let me up now! I told him to tell God that He doesn’t have to twist my arm any more, I understand, and am coming back for good. I told him to now start praying that things get better for us, and he did, and they have!
This same brother has also been going through some tough times, financially. His health is pretty bad and he is disabled. His wife has had a hard time finding work, after being laid off from her job last year. I decided to return the favor and ask God to help his family, financially, and to help relieve some of the financial burden that they have. This was during the few days that I was working for the CPA. One of the 3 days that I was at the CPA firm, I overheard them talking about hiring a new girl for a receptionist job and that they needed to find someone right away. I asked the manager what type of person they needed and she told me. I told them that I knew someone looking for a job. They told me to get them her resume right away and they would interview her. So I told my brother, who got his wife’s resume over to their office, and she was hired the same day of the interview, making really good money! So not only did God work it out so that this CPA job helped my family, but also turned it into a win-win situation where my brother’s family benefited from it as well!
Because of the incredible quickness of the Lord’s response, I was able to pay the rent, buy some food, and pay a couple of bills within just a couple of days of my initial prayer for immediate help. I continued to pray and live right every day after that, and it only got better! But remember when I asked for immediate help and long term help? The immediate help couldn’t have been much more immediate and everything worked out perfectly. The long term help came from the wireless reseller. Not only is he making me a permanent partner within a couple of months, but while he was at another out-of-state job in Louisiana, he met an investor that was looking for a wireless Internet company to setup an infrastructure in Shreveport, LA, one that could service 60,000 users, including a military base. While talking with my partner, the investor asked if he had a business plan for his wireless business that he was starting here in Michigan. He, in fact, had it in his back pocket at the time, and was able to show it to him. It included cost breakdowns, phases of development and expansion, and so on. He was impressed and told him that he could have the money within a day of whenever he would be ready to get started in LA. So, within 6 to 8 months from now, I am going to be a big part of a very long term project and very large wireless Internet business with a guaranteed client base of 60,000 people, not to mention a multi-city, high speed wireless business here in Michigan! Something like this just doesn’t get handed to people. There is NO way that it could be anything else but God intervening in my situation and doing exactly what I asked him to do: provide immediate financial help for my family, as well as meet our long term financial need, and do it in such as way that it would be a miracle that only He could do. Remember when I challenged God to impress me with a miracle? Well, He did EXACTLY that! I get chills just thinking about how he connected all of the dots for me and intertwined each of the miracles together so that everything happened for a reason, and not only benefited me, but when I asked for help for my brother’s situation, he combined my miracle with one for my brother!
Oh, I almost forgot… through all of this, I also asked God to heal my Dad of his sickness. He has been ill a very long time, where he has a low oxygen level and gets tired very quickly. For a long time he hasn’t been able to do very much of anything for any length of time. Today, he told me that he finally feels human and came out the other side! This is huge! I am thanking God for this miracle and accepting it as a miracle of healing for my Dad. He has been to all kinds of doctors and specialists, both here and out of state, but no one can find the cause or fix the problem. I am claiming this as an answer to prayer and a miracle of healing for my Dad.
Now that I have seen what I have seen, I feel like Doubting Thomas. I needed to see the nail-scared hands and touch His wounds to believe, but at least I believe. Even though it took a little more for Thomas to be convinced that Jesus did what He said He would do, at least he finally believed and was saved. He went on to be a great Apostle for Jesus. I pray that I can be at least a fraction of that for Him.
I hope my testimony has helped you in some way to see that we do have a choice, and that God will do what we ask of Him (if it is in His will), and if we trust in Him and turn to Him. He can and will perform miracles in our lives! God loves us and wants to have a loving relationship with each of us. If God will grant ME a miracle (knowing the state that I was in), then I know He will do the same for YOU! You just have to trust in Him, have faith, and just ask!