I hadn’t heard that name since I left my hometown of Centralia after high school. I found out today that he had died and a lot of memories came flooding back. From what I have heard my friend died because his body gave out on him after some rough years and poor decisions. I never would have guessed that he would be the one out of my friends to take that path. He was a really nice kid and hysterically funny. I could see his face and hear his voice again. Then I started thinking of the person I was in high school.
When I say that I am thankful that God saved me out of the path I was on, I don’t mean that in a self-righteous way at all. I didn’t follow my faith or what I believed during that time. I was too concerned with having fun and doing what I wanted. I drank alcohol and did a lot of things of which I am not proud. Don’t get me wrong I had fun for a season. Things began to change after I vomited on a friend’s head. Yeah, that’s something to be proud of isn’t it?
That summer after I graduated I began to follow through on my faith in Christ. I ended up becoming a pastor. I have not always had a neat and tidy life. I still have things that God is changing in my heart but I am thankful that God changed my course. Several of my friends took different paths. I spent this evening thinking about how many opportunities that I missed to talk about my faith with my friends.
I am so glad that God saved me and has been changing me ever since. I wish God had saved my friend from the path that he took. I don’t feel that I am better than Mike at all. God’s grace led me out of what I am sure now would have been a path of self-destruction. I am truly grateful. I have made many terrible mistakes but Jesus paid for them on the cross and has set me free!
I will remember my friend. I hope he found peace before he died. I am thankful for the peace I have been given. I didn’t look for it. God in His grace came to me. I didn’t deserve it. Psalm 40:2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
The thing is we are all set to self-destruct. I read what Mike Wilkerson wrote about Amy Winehouse’s death this week:
Those of us whose sin has not yet consumed us should not be too quick to judge Amy.
The only true rescue from addiction and all of sin's other forms and effects is to be freed from the bonds of that slavery by the Redeemer, forgiven by the Creator for spoiling his good work, and to be re-created by his Spirit to live a new life. No vaguely defined higher power made in my own image can do all of this—it is through Jesus Christ alone.
Grace to you.