You know that kid that was dragged to church every time the doors were open and came from the squeaky clean family? Well, that was me. So, I guess you could say I encountered God on a regular basis for many years. This was not a bad thing at all. I am thankful for my Christian upbringing, for my mom's faithful involvement in all things church, and my dad's great example. But somehow over the years, my theology became somewhat skewed. Having a relatively easy life (stable home, decent income, etc.), I began to formulate the idea in my mind that if I was just faithful to God and didn't get myself into a lot of hot water over a bunch of sinful living, then God would honor that and life would be relatively easy. After all, that's biblical, right?
Well, enter encounter number one. My wife of almost three years, my college girlfriend, came to me and basically said, "I've been thinking a lot about leaving." After trying to do all I could to rectify the relationship and stop her from tearing our marriage apart, there was nothing more I could do. She even gave me the comfort of saying, "You did nothing wrong, this is just all on me. I never should have gotten married." So while that allowed me to clear my conscience, it didn't make the pain go away. I had been serving for two years at a little Baptist church in Rockdale, TX. My wife had been our church pianist and had worked with me in my youth ministry. My world had been shaken up like one of those snow globes. And somehow in the midst of it all, God was there. Well, as my life seemingly spun out of control, it was my continuing seminary education and a church paycheck that kept me from going off the deep end. I felt so far away from God, yet at the same time, I was supposed to be leading others to be closer to him.