I had been in the south here in Chattanooga for a short period of time, you know, two, three or four months. There were big pain glass windows out in the front of our store and our employees were inside there. It was still new. I carried a bag out and this lady turned around and she said; “Can I pray with you?” I thought; I was thinking; “Of course you can.” But in the Catholic world you get in, you stay forward, pray by yourself and put your hands together. You don’t pray with other people. You don’t talk to other people about praying. You certainly don’t pray with other people. But I knew, I was paying attention and I knew that was something good. So, I said; “Yes.” But being transparent, I was thinking that all my employees are standing behind me. She’s out here praying and this is going to feel weird. I started getting sweaty but I said; “Okay, whatever.” Over her car door she said; “Can I hold your hands?” I was thinking; Oh man, this is just getting worse and worse. The pride of a young guy out there never having done this. So, anyway, I stuck my hands out and she prayed for me and went on.
About eight or ten years later I was in Knoxville helping open another store. I was in there working in the fish department and a guy came in and was talking to me. He invited me to church. I was like, alright, I am going. I don’t really feel like it. I know it’s going to be uncomfortable but I’m going to go. So I show up at the gymnasium at the high school for the church service and he’s not there. To be honest with you I was like; this is odd, this is weird, they’re going to recognize that I’m the outsider. I don’t want to have a long conversation about this stuff, I just want to get in, get in my corner and do my thing and see what’s going on.
Then people started raising their hands. I thought, oh great, now, do I raise my hand or do I not raise my hand and have everybody know that I’m the outsider and have them come to talk to me. So, now the sweat was just coming down my head and I am just not in a good place but I was just going with it.
So, they had an altar call. I was like, I don’t like this either but I’m going. I’m here, I’m going. I just fought through the fear and just walked up there. That was pretty tame and normal. I really didn’t feel anything different. I had always believed. I just took it on faith. That was it.
Then fast forward to a few years later. I was coming to church one day and they had a special service where if people wanted to be prayed over, over some issues, they could go across the hall into the room where (they call it the living room) where people can be prayed with. My buddy Steve came out and he said; “Look the first service just got overran over there were people standing out in the hallway. He was like; if that happens again will you come over here and pray with people? I said; “Sure, put me in.” Well, between you, me and the rest of the world, I hadn’t prayed with anybody like that ever in my life. But I was like, hey if this is what I am supposed to do, I am going to do it and let it be what it will be.
Then a young lady came up and she said; “Look, me and my husband, we have had an eight-year marriage. We are probably going to get a divorce. I feel like I am getting punished because I had an abortion. We have been trying to get pregnant. Because I can’t get pregnant, that’s causing stress which is leading us to where we are now. I said to her; “How do you feel about this? She said; “I feel like I am getting punished.” I said; “Well, have you asked God for forgiveness?” She said; “Yeah.” I said; “Well, it’s you remembering it and it’s the enemy reminding you. That’s not God reminding you. I think God has forgotten about it.” So, I prayed with her and that was it. We worked on the rest of the line and prayed with people. I didn’t think anything more of it.
I noticed a unique stroller coming in and out of church every week but didn’t pay any attention to it. Then one Sunday this lady came up to me and said; “I just wanted to come up. I finally saw you up here and I just wanted to come and thank you.” I was looking at her and had no idea who she was or what was going on. She had a man with her and she said; “Do you remember about a year and a half ago I came up and I wanted to pray with you and tell you what’s going on?” Then it started clicking. I said;
“Yeah, yeah I remember.” She said; “I wanted to introduce you to my husband and I wanted to let you know that we had triplets.” I just smiled and said to her; “So, do you have any question that God is listening to you at this point?” Anyway, she took me into the nursery and let me see her little girls. That just gave me a front row seat to one of God’s miracles. I knew He was great. I knew He was loving. I knew He was powerful. I knew He was forgiving. I knew He was responsible for every breath I have ever taken but I really hadn’t experienced anything. So it was just little bitty steps along the path that led me to where I am at now. Now I can feel the presence of God sometimes. It wasn’t a big earth-shattering moment any step of the way.