God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.
My Story: I was a high school dropout – I was ranked 134 out of 136 kids in my class. My best friend was 135 and we would always say we didn’t know who 136 was, but he must have died during the school year if he got worse grades than us! I dropped out and went to adult education for an alternative degree. I passed high school with classes like literature through movies, in which our class explored the great and diverse world of english literature with movies like Star Wars (most of us were high through it all). Our class even had a kid who would snort anything you would ask him to. I dropped out of high school partly because my Dad, who had been my wrestling coach for my earlier years, had started a drug addiction. It went from oxycontin to cocaine, cocaine to heroine, heroine to anything he could get his hands on. He started to fade out of my life; therefore all I had as a guide was my post-pubescent desires. St. Thomas Aquinas said that all act out of a desire for happiness, and my 16-year-old heart thought pleasure and good-times equaled happiness. But, like most bad hedonist, (I wasn’t even a good hedonist), life started to suck super quick. Two of my friends had committed suicide. So my best friend and I, before I finished school, dropped out, and moved to Denver, Colorado to work for his brother’s door to door sales company. I sold coupon books for a wheel chair basketball company (and I wasn’t a Mother Teresa, because only 4% of sales went to the team). Being 17, that job lasted for about a month and I was back home with no place to go. I was bored and started partying hard again. One night my friends and I were out smashing mailboxes in the country (thats what bad country kids did for fun), drinking and driving around. As we were headed back to my friend’s house for the night, a cop attempted to pull me over. I proceeded to turn off my headlights and gunned it down a dirt road. I got into a high speed chase with a cop car for 5 miles until I almost ran into a house! I pulled over as four cop cars came from all directions and put a gun to my head. They thought I was some drug lord running for his life, but I was just some bored kid looking for a thrill. As I watched all my friends get brought out in handcuffs, I knew I had reached rock bottom.
During my senior year of Adult Ed. I began to work at a warehouse and I also dropped most of my friends. I was sick of the lower hedonistic lifestyle and I moved on to think my happiness was found in achievement. I worked 40+ hours a week, enrolled full-time in Lansing Community College (it was the first time I had people trying to copy off me), and I also worked out a ton. I finally had some purpose in my life and I thought I knew where I was heading, but God had different plans. Matt Fradd says that a lot of people have conversion stories where there at rock bottom and Christ comes in and makes their lives better. Matt said that God came into his life when he was doing just fine and entered with a freaking round-house kick to his life and now he is left picking up the pieces. To that I say Amen!
At the warehouse where I worked, I met a kid named Scottie, interesting story. He was a cool, good-looking guy who had been out in Colorado, living as a missionary. He was praying one day and God came in, as he does, with a round-house kick and called him back to Michigan. He had no idea what for, but he followed God’s call. His Dad worked at the same warehouse as I did and got Scottie a job. Just before I met Scottie I had an experience that would change my life forever. My friend Jason asked me if I had planned to see the new movie coming out, The Passion of the Christ. I was Catholic and I thought, why the heck not. I got to the movie theater and I bought myself the gallon of popcorn and pop like I always did. I was also flirting with some girls while waiting for the theater to open. As the movie began to play I slowly put down my popcorn and pop and my heart began to explode. All the years I heard about Jesus and how he loved me, never did I hear it in this way. After the movie was done and we got back in the car, my friend Jason, who had just had a conversion experience himself, asked me to pray with him. For those who were raised Catholic, but were barely Catholic, know the feeling when someone asks you about Jesus or tries to pray with you. It felt as if he had asked to make-out with me! I didn’t say anything but made the sign of the cross. My cousin called me that night and asked me if I wanted to go to a club. Talking about Jesus was new for me, but I said that I just saw The Passion, so I didn’t think I should. She said she had seen it as well, but didn’t know why it would cause me to not go out. Round-house kick! I couldn’t get rid of this strong desire to do something great for Jesus.
A couple weeks later, I was trying to be good and not party, but it was difficult. I was experiencing what I now know as the ‘Friday night itch’. In the morning I would make a commitment not to go out and party and I would be pretty motivated. 5 o’clock would come and it would get a bit harder. 7 o’clock hit and I started to twitch. By 8 o’clock I was doing a keg stand, and by 9 o’clock I was passed out. So Scottie and I went to a Christian concert, which helped me through the twitches. On the way back he felt like the Holy Spirit had spoke to him all of a sudden. He said that God had just told him that the reason he was sent back was for me! That is something I will never forget.
Scottie started to bring me back to his non-denominational Church, which was an old mall with like a million people there. There was smoke, great music and all the signs of a Miley Cyrus concert. However, there was something missing for me. I had no idea at that time the true difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. When someone mentioned Martin Luther, I thought they were talking about Martin Luther King Jr. They gave me a book called, Purpose Driven Life, (which was the first full book I had read in a long long time), and it said something that I will never forget. It said to, “bloom where you are planted.” This really resonated with me and I knew in my heart I belonged in the Catholic Church, the church I was baptized in (thank you Holy Spirit!). So my grandma told me about this thing the Catholic Church calls daily mass, and so I decided to go. Just a side-note, my Grandma was one of those catholic grandma’s that when you walk into their house your not sure if you should genuflect! She was amazing. So I went to my first daily mass and it just so happened that a guy, that I had smoked a ton of weed with in my past, drove by as I was walking in. I waived and all I saw was him slow way down and mouth the words, “What the f&$#!” So I looked at the doors, laughed and said, “well here we go God.”
I have so many more stories that will come out in my writings. Since then I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Theology and I am currently finishing my master’s degree in Theology. I have trapped myself in my room many summers and just read to make up for my stupidity in high school. When I got to college, I had a friend proofread the first paper I ever wrote and he said it looked as if it had been written by a fourth grader. I used to sit in the adoration chapel for hours and just write. Later that year my philosophy professor approached me after class, and I was thinking oh great, here it comes. He said, “Jacob, you wrote an amazing paper!” From then on, I dedicated myself to God and to spreading the truth.
I hope these letters help you see God the same way he has allowed me to see Him. I think most of us don’t hate God or want to be atheists, we just haven’t heard a convincing argument for Him. If I can help you see just a sliver of His beauty, then you will soon be captivated by him. Warning: He will round-house kick the crap out of you, but the joy you will experience will make you a glutton for punishment and you will seek him all the more!