Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” We get the opportunity to celebrate this transformation Mission Weekend during all of our worship gatherings and are delighted to share real stories from individuals who have experienced this in their own lives.
We take this opportunity to introduce you to Mike Alt, who will be baptized next weekend:
When I think of my story, I think of the clip from the movie Evan Almighty when Steve Carrell’s character asks God “Why me?” when God asks him to build an ark. God’s response in the movie was, “You said you wanted to change the world, so do I.” Steve Carrell’s character did not realize he was inviting God in until God came face to face seeking him out.
You see, I was not living a “Christ-like” life to say the least. I was working as a career firefighter in Indiana and thought I had it all figured out. God was more like a cane to me, in that I used God when it was convenient, but like a cane, I did not rely on Him. I asked for Him when needed and would thank him if it went the way I thought it should. If it didn’t, I would take it into my own hands. I was prideful, arrogant, untrustworthy, and thought I had it all figured out. Unfortunately, this was driving a wedge deeper and deeper into my marriage.
I remember sitting on the back patio of West Lafayette Fire Station 3 with a pastor talking about a song I heard on the radio on the way to work. It was a song that talked about “not needing my name in lights, I’m famous in my Father’s eyes, He knows me by my name.” I remember how excited the singer sounded in the song to know that God knew her name and I remember telling the pastor that I did not feel that same excitement. It sparked the question inside of me: do I believe “in” God or believe “of” God? After all, I grew up in church and knew there was a God; I was just a long way from knowing him. Like the clip in the movie, I believe this was my invitation for God to come into my life and take over without really knowing it.
Within two weeks of this meeting on the patio, my life began to take an incredible twist that no one could have ever predicted. I was offered the job of a lifetime, and the crazy part is, I didn’t even apply for it. This opportunity was something I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams, but it was truly a dream job. It meant moving the family to Maryland, but I thought it would be the fresh start I was longing for.
Little did I know what was yet to unfold once I hit Maryland. That wedge that I talked about being driven into my marriage – it finally broke through and within 6 days of being in Maryland, I watched my wife and son leave me and drive back to Illinois where we both grew up. All of the control I thought I had over my life drove away, and I was left with nothing. This is when God began to reveal to me who he was and why I was here.
They left on a Saturday, and by Sunday morning, I was sitting in a chair at Grace Community Church. I was invited to come back the following night to attend a men’s meeting that the pastor thought I could benefit from. It was at this men’s meeting that I realized I had not truly asked Christ into my heart. I had been living my own life for a long time and was exhausted from trying so hard only to fall short. These men began to tell me the freedom in Christ and the love He had for me by laying down His life on the cross. It was that Monday night that I was saved.
My painful and sinful past had taken its toll on my marriage, but I found that God wanted me and pursued me just as I was, for He had better plans for my life and was beginning to reveal them to me. Through God’s eyes, I began to see my pride and through the example of Christ I was able to humble myself.
Today, my situation on paper hasn’t really changed, but my perspective on it is now completely different. I feel a peace has come over me and no matter what comes my way, I know who has gone before me and is right beside me.
I used to identify myself in the people around me and my overall surroundings. This left me discouraged and confused, never knowing who I am or staying consistent. Once I learned to identify myself in Christ, my life took on a whole new meaning and consistency was finally achievable.
My story is one of God actively pursuing me, showing me the path that I was on, and showing me the path he wanted me on. It is a story of pain and sorrow, but also of redemption, and I am rejoicing at the love God has for me by sending his Son to die for me on the cross despite my sinfulness. That love was there for me all along, I just never took the time to see it. Now I have freedom in Christ and have never felt better surrendering my life so that God’s will be done.