How God’s Wind Blew For Me

Jeff Gratitude

When I converse with those who are not followers of Christ I usually note one thing among others that seems to stand out.  Whether or not they are educated or uneducated, moral or unrestrained, American-born or from another country, there seems to be a common thread that is woven in the fabric of their minds.  What is it?  They all seem to doubt or even fully disbelieve the goodness of God. For some who simply don’t believe God exists, there is a sense that the God which I believe in – the God of the bible – is not a good god.  Others believe in a Grand Architect, Supreme Being, Higher Power…but one who is involved and concerned for mankind? They dismiss this rather easily.  Let me share a little of my own testimony –  especially for the opportunity of those who knew me back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

I heard about Jesus Christ for my entire childhood.  I was in church a lot as a kid and knew the basic tenets of the Gospel by age six or seven.  We had some dear neighbors who took me to their church regularly when I was entering adolescence and, for a time, I had intentions of being a committed Christian.  Due to hurts and disappointments in my early years, I allowed my heart to become hard to everything around the age of twelve or thirteen; by the time I was fourteen I had abandoned my church friends and committed myself to a life of fairly rampant misbehavior.  Alcohol and drugs would dominate the next decade of my life as I self-medicated the hurt and anger within me.  I was deathly afraid of the God I was once fond of, and my faith dissolved into religious superstition.  My pitiful commitment to refrain from certain “big sins” was the means by which I sought to appease that scowling Deity above the clouds.  Frankly, I had zero intention of becoming a disciple of Christ and was convinced that the God I once believed to be kind and good would now be found by me to be frustrated, fed-up, and fitful.  I figured if I quit hiding from Him he would likely chew me out or char me up.  He had become the God I determined to avoid.

Flash forward to 1994 when the pit of my depravity could seemingly go no deeper.  It was a stormy night in 1994 on August 3rd and I had returned home from a week of heavy partying in Florida.  As I pondered my life that night, I was empty in heart, confused in mind and sick of the man I had become.  I’d be lying if I said that suicide had not been considered more than once in previous months.  A Christian co-worker who had been promoted to become my supervisor had been sharing the message of Christ with me for two years.  He was very effective in reminding me that my rebellion would need to come to an end, but I could not fathom that God would ever receive my stained soul; religious guilt worked one way against me while the emptiness of hedonism worked the other way against me.  The following day, August 4 1994, I could run no further as fear and despair were seeking to swallow me.  I cried out in sobs and told God in trembling words that I would run no further from Him.  I prayed out of overt weakness that I would surrender and did not care if He killed me or saved me..I just couldn’t go on with the path I had chosen as a teenager ten years before.  On that pivotal day, I died to Jeff Lyle and crawled into bed in my little apartment in Lawrenceville.

It was the first peaceful sleep I had experienced since my childhood.

“My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be  glad.  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!” – Psalm 34:2-3 {ESV}

I resist the urge to market the Gospel here.  Let’s just say that my entire life changed inside and out in a near immediate fashion.  It never occurred to me that God would be good to the little man who wasted a decade indulging his every appetite.  The theoretical God who theoretically rescued theoretical sinners became very real to me on that day. He is more real to me now – going on twenty-five years later – than ever before .  Again, I did not wake up on August 4 1994 and decide I wanted the life that I now live – I never could have conceived it.  My life is a gift – 100% of it.  Every drop of it.  My wife, my children, my ministry, my purpose…all received from the goodness of Another.  The God who is good was discovered to be good to me and I am continually astounded at the ever-unfolding ways that I’m reminded of this.  My hope is that all my friends and those of you who read this will be graced to learn the same of Him.  I didn’t know what I was missing.  Neither do some of you…yet.