…My name is Danny, and this is my story.
I was born to parents of the Greatest Generation, but my father returned from World War II at war with God. Our family never attended church, but my grandmother took me to hers where, with all the faith of my 6 years, I surrendered to Jesus. From that moment I felt God’s presence.
“Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16)
In adolescence, I began attending church, and one Sunday a young girl came too. She would become the love of my life. We were soon married and blessed with 4 beautiful children. Immediately, God was our priority. We attended church faithfully and taught Sunday school.
One Sunday, 3 people gave testimonies about the destruction caused by immorality, drugs and alcohol and how, with all hope gone, they accepted Jesus as their Savior and He had changed them. Touched by their words, I mistakenly thought my simple testimony of childhood faith would never move anyone. Though blessed by God in every way, I asked Him for a testimony that would move people to faith in Jesus.
Soon, our marriage was in crisis. I was doing things I never thought I would do, drinking for the first time, and was soon out of control. Our marriage was saved by God’s mercy, and I repented of those sins but had not yet reached my lowest.
After losing everything, my family of 6 moved into a small travel trailer. A new emotion grew within me – first frustration, then anger, and finally hatred directed at the one I blamed for my troubles. Unwilling to forgive, I vowed that if our paths crossed I would kill him. I knew it was sinful and violated God’s laws. I told myself I’d sort it out later in heaven.
Even before completing this thought, for the first time since I was 6, I could not feel God’s presence. I was alone, surrounded by spiritual darkness, praying into emptiness as if my words bounced off the ceiling right back to me. I wish I could say this was for a short time, but years passed. I begged God to restore the joy of my salvation, (Psalm 51:12) while stubbornly clinging to hatred and refusing to forgive. Finally, I came to my senses and remembered that to be forgiven I must forgive (Matthew 6:14), and from my heart I did. All anger and hatred vanished as I prayed,
“Against thee, thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.” (Psalm 51:4)
Oh, the joy of sweet communion with the living God! Even after 30 years, I long for the simple testimony I once thought was so uninspiring. I feel only remorse for this new one, but good has come from it! God called me to shepherd His flock and gave me a pastor’s love for His sheep. I have lived the truth of these words:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
From a heart full of rage and murder to complete forgiveness… My name is Danny, and this is my story.