All I had to do was close my eyes and get right back to the nice dreams I had already been having. I was so comfortable and warm and not at all thrilled about the prospect of getting back up.
“Go back out there and talk to him.”
When I heard the Lord tell me again, I didn’t hesitate. I threw on some socks, my hoodie, and started back towards the bathroom. I had no idea what to say. I had no idea if the young man even wanted to talk. I had no idea why the Lord wanted me to go back out there.
Now, before we go any further, I want to explain something.
The old Chris, the one prior to fifteen months ago, prior to God wrecking my entire world in a good way, prior to being completely set free from a 33 year pornography addiction, would have rolled over and went right back to sleep. Why? Because back then, I was all about self. I didn’t want to do anything that might make me uncomfortable. I wasn’t willing to blindly follow God’s lead and stretch my faith.
I get excited anytime I realize how much more I’ve grown in Him. How much more He has pottered me and fathered me like no one can. It’s awesome.
A strange look crossed the young man’s face as I approached, for the second time, a little more awake, with extra clothes on. I smiled and asked if I could sit in the other chair and talk. He readily agreed, and I asked him what his name was.
He told me his name was Jacob. He is twenty years old. We shook hands, and I asked if he would be willing to tell me his story. He smiled and made a comment about it taking a long time. I smiled back and said we have all the time we need.
He told me about growing up in foster care. Some of the good things. Some of the horror stories. He talked about an older brother who was basically Dad for most of his life. A little sister he would do anything to protect.
He spoke about going hungry for days at a time. About learning how to fight from around the age of five. If you couldn’t stand up for yourself navigating the foster care system, older and bigger kids would make you pay dearly.
He talked about graduating with honors and having an IQ near 140. He wanted to attend college and become a doctor.
He told me about being addicted to every drug you can imagine and throwing away all of his dreams. Heroin. Crack. Pills. All of it. He described, in detail, what it meant to be homeless and live on the streets. Being part of a community that society tends to reject. A community of which others assume everything without ever engaging in dialogue.
Then he told me about getting his girlfriend pregnant. And everything changed. He described nights of screaming at God. Angry. Confused. Belligerent. Never catching a break.
But the moment he held his baby girl in his arms, he knew something needed to happen. He finally realized he would have nothing to offer if he didn’t clean himself up and become a father to his little girl.
He stopped doing drugs. Cleaned himself up. And heard a voice tell him to go back home to Goshen, Indiana. Of all the weekends for him to return, it was the same one as the men’s retreat. Having been a part of the church in the past, Jacob was asked if he wanted to attend. He agreed.
He is now actively looking for work and will eventually find himself his own place to live. He wants to have full custody of his baby girl. The mother is still using and more than likely not fit to raise a child. I believe Jacob will have a great chance to be reunited with his daughter, permanently.
A little after 6am, we ended our conversation, and I went back to bed. I woke up around 8:30 and almost immediately heard the Lord say, “Give Jacob all the cash you have in your wallet.”
At that moment, I didn’t even know what I had in there, but I quickly agreed. I thanked God for the opportunity to have those conversations with Jacob and learn his story. To have the privileged of blessing him monetarily, even if it wasn’t a lot.
After the first session and right as lunch began, I spotted Jacob outside smoking a cigarette and walked out to give him the money. I said God told me to give him all the cash I had in my wallet. His face registered surprise at first, then he smiled, and with tears in his eyes, he gripped me in a bear hug.
I told him that God had huge plans for his life. That He loved him so much and would always love him, no matter what he had done in his past, no matter what he would ever do in the future. God was there for him. Always.
I returned inside in search of lunch and was stopped by three different guys, within a fifteen minute time span, all wanting me to sign their copy of my book. They each gave me a donation. A few hours later, I pulled the money out, and it was exactly $1 more than what I had given Jacob from my wallet. Once again, God blew me away.
To be honest, the rest of the day was a blur. I couldn’t stop thanking God for the amazing ways He provided for me to step out in faith and continue my journey of growing up in Him. Learning. Trusting. Obeying.
I had the chance to speak to several more men before the retreat ended. Some struggling with pornography. Some who had overcome it. Some not sure if they could resist temptation. Some desperately desiring reconciliation with their wives. All equally grateful for my willingness to be open and transparent, even vulnerable, by sharing my story with them.
It was an amazing time with an incredible group of men who continue to seek God in everything. They are friends. Brothers. And part of the body of Christ.
I thank my Father for the incredible opportunity to share about all the amazing things He has done in my life and marriage. And for everything He is going to do still.
God bless you.