Thirty years ago today (October 16, 1981) God found me in the midst of the muck and mire of life. I was hopeless, helpless and lost in the sea of a broken humanity. My emotions were beat down and the pain in my soul was deep. It was as though life was just not worth living, and I figured no one would care if my wretched self was not around. To my surprise fate would have it that I would run into a little Jesus and he would squelch any possibility for considering suicide. This little Jesus had the reputation of being the coolest dude in town and then he suddenly disappeared for a couple years. On this day he reappeared dressed in all black like Johnny Cash. Who is this dude? He’s Danny Saldaña. A long-time friend.
I remember seeing him walking down the street pondering whether I should offer him a ride. Needless to say, I pulled over and gave him a ride to his parent’s house. He had no idea where I was headed or the pain stirring in my heart. We stopped at the front of his parent’s house about 6pm where I asked the fatal question, “So, what’s been going on with you since you left this small town?” Why was it fatal? Well, what came next ruined my life and my plans for a quick departure of this earth. Danny told me his story. It was a story of how God had found him in his darkest time and redeemed him. He shared how his life was turned upside down and that he hadn’t been the same since discovering the love of who he called a “radical Jesus.” It was a love greater than anything he had ever imagined. He shared how he’d never felt so high in his life…even higher than his drug filled days.
Next thing I knew it was 6am and we parted ways. My heart was stirring with tons of questions that made their way through the pain. I drove home and sat on my bed asking God if he would do to me what he had done to Danny. I wasn’t sure what it meant to follow Jesus, but it had to be better than the pain I was enduring. Since then it’s been a transforming journey that many times has been painful. I’ve lost friends on the way because of death or just because of philosophical differences. Still, the Lord continues to change my heart and thinking.
At times I wonder what life would have been like for my family if I’d ended my life. It always breaks my heart to think of not being here because I’ve enjoyed the beauty of God’s grace with some amazing people throughout the years. My heart has been challenged and encouraged by many of you who are reading this confession. I’m beyond grateful that God found me when he did. Otherwise I wouldn’t have met the friends I have in real life and in the virtual world. Most importantly I would not have met the most beautiful and amazing woman in the world in my wife, Paige. God would not have blessed me with three very cool sons who continue to make me proud to be their papi. I guess it is a wonderful life. 🙂
As I celebrate 30 years of trying to follow Jesus, my hope is to keep going on for 30 more. There is more of life to experience, history to be made, and plenty of stories to be told. I must let go of my selfishness and pettiness. I must get back to loving and caring for the least of these because when God found me I was one of the least of these.
grace and peace…gibby