For a lifelong Duke fan it is normal to wonder if anything good can come out of Chapel Hill. It's sad but true. At least during the months of December-April. But amazingly God is a God who can use anyone. Even if that person is a Carolina fan...
If you missed the last post about me, you can read it here. Pretty much I challenge my kids to be able to tell how God has worked in their lives and so I felt I should probably be able to do the same. So here is part 2.
Take the end of my last post and fast forward roughly 5 years. I'm a freshman in high school. I wish I could say that life was good but to be honest it wasn't. In middle school my life fell into depression (not severe but rough none the less). I'm not sure why I was depressed but it wasn't good. It was a rough spot to be in and I carried it straight into high school.
In my early years of high school I did the typical high school scene, drinking and smoking. I longed for acceptance. I mean I lived for someone to notice me and show an interest in my life. I was empty. This is where I was. In a dark place with no answers.
That's where God steps into my story. I mean He'd always been there but this is where I noticed. God revealed Himself to me through a preacher on a motorcycle and a UNC fan.
1. Billy Toler - Billy Toler was the pastor at my church growing up and he had a motorcycle. I have to be honest. This fact through me for a loop. Preachers weren't supposed to drive bikes. They were supposed to drive 1986 Buick Regals. He cared for the people of the church and took part in their lives. (he still comes to my grandmother's birthday parties). He would joke around with me and interact with me. Billy Toler changed my perception of pastors and has unknowingly helped craft me into the pastor I am today. In fact he baptized me twice when I was in high school. He would laugh with me and and joke that once wasn't enough. (although there was a different reason for it.)
2. Jon Hobgood- In 10th grade Jon Hobgood had a Duke-UNC viewing party at his house. Years later he would tell me that I was the most annoying person there. Looking back I probably was. If I could name who God used to impact my life the most it would have to be Jon. At the height (or more correctly depths) of my rough times in life something strange happened. As I longed for acceptance, and to know that someone was interested in my life, Jon did just that.
On one particularly bad night, Jon asked me if i was alright. I did what everyone does when asked that question. I lied. I wasn't ok. I was terrible. But I said fine just to keep moving in life. Jon saw right through it. "It doesn't seem like you are fine. You seem pretty upset" Just so you know, Youth Pastors can tell when you are lying so never try it. With that I unloaded. I'm pretty sure he wasn't expecting it. But he asked, so I told him.
What followed was a year and a half of me learning as much from Jon as humanly possible. He was with me when I bought my first Bible. He challenged me on the type of music I listened to. He took me to my first christian concert (which I spent flirting with a girl from another church). He taught me how to serve others and how to seek after God. He let me sit in his office for hours on end while he worked. He even called me out because I was dating a girl that we both knew was not good for me. He took an interest in my life when I needed it. He taught me how to see when someone else needed to be noticed and loved. Because Jon listened to God that night he asked me how I was doing, I am a youth pastor today.
I still talk to Jon anytime I need advice or have a funny story. I thank him for all that he's done and apologize for everything that I put him through that now I have endured as a youth pastor. Seriously. I once emailed him for being overly annoying as an 11th grader.
I think that there are people who influence everyone's life. An important part of telling our story is to remember the people who changed our lives. There are a ton more people who have impacted my life but this blog is long enough. Perhaps they will get their own blog one day.
Has someone made a difference in your life? Write a comment telling who they were and how they changed your life....