Warning: Some of the topics discussed may contain accounts of real life violence, strong language, and other topics not suitable for minors. This podcast has remained unedited out of respect of those individuals who feel led by the Lord to share their testimonies.
We begin today’s show with Vince sharing an important story about a new direction his life is taking:
I got married back in 2011. My wife’s dream has always been to be a mother. Around the time I got married, I was five months away from deployment to Afghanistan and three and half years left in the Marine Corps. So, we made the decision to wait until I got out of the Marine Corps., because I wanted to be a father that was actually there and I didn’t want her to be a single mother in case something happened to me.
So, after I got out of the Marine Corps., we kept trying and trying for a year and a half and there was no luck. All of her friends had gotten pregnant. My heart’s prayer became that my wife got pregnant, even though I didn’t feel ready for a kid, because I could see her brokenheartedness. So, we made an appointment recently, to go see a doctor about it. Right when we made the appointment, we prayed one more time. When I come home the very next day, Megan is crying. I asked what was going on, and with shaky hands, she handed me a pregnancy test. It was positive. At that point my heart sunk into my socks. I was thankful, and it was great to see her so happy. She was glowing.
So, we thought about how we would tell my parents. We decided to buy a onesie, with a little saying, “Here Comes Trouble,” which is what my Dad always says whenever I visit, inside a little heart. Below the heart is the expected month and year. We order it online, and it’s adorable. We packaged and wrapped it up, and when Good Friday came, my wife and I took off to visit my parents. On the way there, I was thinking about what this baby means to my parents and as much as may be uncomfortable for me to have another mouth to feed and not be as flexible to dream, I knew my life was about my family.
I have a sister and a brother. My sister is a great woman who loves the Lord wholeheartedly, but there was a time in her life where she wasn’t living her life coherent with Christianity. She ended up dating this guy who was kind of a druggie and a loser. She got married him right after high school, since she had gotten pregnant her senior year. My parents fought with her and tried to give her wisdom, but nothing would work. So, she ended up having the kid and getting divorced six months later. She couldn’t take care of the kid and had made some more bad dating decisions, so she decided to give my nephew, Andrew, when he was nine years old, to my parents. At that point, he was running into some issues and was starting to run away from home.
My parents ended up taking him in, and my sister decided to skip town without keeping in contact with her son. He was living with his grandparents and they put him into a Christian school where he did really well academically. He was a great kid with a loving heart. However, he had been dealing with depression without any of us knowing about it.
At the time, I was in college, and when I graduated in 2006, I ended up commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. I was heading home and was super excited to start my new life. I had about six month to wait before I was sent off to the basic school in Quantico, Virginia. So, I had a lot of time to spent with my nephew. We had planned to spend a lot of time together. On July 5th, 2006, I was out shopping with my cousin who had just arrived from Australia, and while we were out I got a frantic call from brother. He told me that I needed to get home immediately and that he heard from my aunt that my nephew had shot himself. That didn’t make any sense to me, because I was with him literally ten minutes ago.
I called my mom, who was of course really distressed and telling me to come home immediately. So, I got my cousin and we headed back as quickly as possible, booking it at literally 100 mph in 25 mph speed zones. I turn a corner onto my street, and I can see that my house is surrounded by basically the entire police department, yellow tape, ambulances, and everything. So I slam the brakes, park the car in the middle of the road, and just run out. A cop grabbed me before I ran into the house, but I was able to see the that the coroner’s van was nearby. I remember that the cop was crying. I asked if my nephew was going to be okay. He said that he didn’t know and that he didn’t think so.
So, I go into the house, where my mom was. I remember hugging her and seeing the coroner with a gurney and a body bag on it. They wheeled my nephew out to the van and they put him inside. At that point, I had no idea how we’d ever make it through this. I remember praying for strength at that situation, and God really met me at that point.
My nephew ended up passing away. I was still supposed to go to the basic school and I began questioning what I was going to do my life. I remember talking to the coroner, a very nice lady, who confirmed that it was suicide and that he had shot himself with my dad’s gun. He was 12-years-old. We buried my nephew, and I had to basically spoon feed my parents for about four months. When I had to go to the basic school, they were back on their feet. Ten years later, my dad had lost the will to live. He took full responsibility for what had happened. It was his grandson and his gun, so he shouldered the whole burden. His health went down the drain, and it was terrible to see.
This was all going through my head as I was driving back home to tell my parents about their grandkid. That’s when it hit me that this pregnancy was a gift from God and was not about me. This child is not about me. It’s not about a legacy that me or my wife is going to leave. This is not about someone who is going to take care of me when I’m older. This is about other people. This child is going to be a warrior for Christ and save people in Jesus’ name. He or she (I’m hoping it’s a girl) is going to change the lives of people starting now when they’re in my wife’s womb. This a chance at redemption for my parents. This is what is going to keep my dad alive and change everything. I had faith and a peace about me that was from the Lord. So, we get there, and I sit down with my dad. I led him through this whole rat race, telling him about how we’re not interested in having kids, right before giving him the gift.
Then, when I give him the gift, I tell him that it’s pretty small, and if it didn’t fit, we could take it back. He opened it slowly, and when he saw it, he just started crying. He had this look in his eyes as if God had just forgiven him. I think that my dad felt that after my nephew passed away, his name was cursed. He thought he was punished for not walking with God at the time and that God would never bless his children with children. My dad is a new man, now. In those three days, he had different look in his eyes and a pep in his step. It was great.
Next, Justin shares an important message on God’s will and timing:
I am horribly guilty of questioning God, his timing, and his overall plan. When I was in Afghanistan during 2011, my best friend, my roommate during flight school FRS, didn’t come home. He went East Coast, I went West Coast, and that was the last time I ever saw him. I remember talking to his mother on the phone, and her saying, “Don’t be sad. He’s with God know.” I thought to myself, “That’s so stupid. He’s dead. He’s gone. How could you possibly think that?” Then I spent the next two years basically peeing on his grave, by using his death to justify my chronic alcoholism. I was angry with God for what he took from me, when in reality, that wasn’t mine.
Years later, I’d come across this verse from the story of the Job:
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.
“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
“What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heaven when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? (Job 38:1-30
Whenever I read this, it makes me feel like any idiot for ever questioning anything. It’s scary to see how God puts Job in his place. I am thankful for grace everyday, especially when I hear stuff like this.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
We have plans we have plans, goals, and dreams, but whatever happens, it’s what God wants. God gives us dreams and passions for a reason and uses them so that we can glorify him in that. Sometimes though, you may plan something a God will send you in a completely different direction.
Here are a few more verses on God’s sovereign will:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalms 115:3)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)