Today's 'thought' comes to you once again from Kyle Idleman's book, "Not a Fan." Interspersed throughout the book are testimonies of people who were "fans" of Jesus at one point or another in their lives, but are no longer. They had attended church, said their prayers, put some money in the offering plate, claimed a vague belief in Jesus, and generally went through the religious motions. But then at some point in their lives realized that it had all been superficial and not real.
In most cases -- usually as a result of going through sickness, or trauma, or addiction, or coming close to death -- that which had been superficial in their lives became real. They stopped being a "fan" of Jesus, and became a true disciple and follower of Jesus. This is Gary Polsgrove's testimony. He's a man Jesus brought to his knees before He put him back on his feet. Enjoy.
Not A Fan Testimony
"Sitting in front of the judge's stand, I started to cry. I heard the judge say something about jail time, and I sobbed even harder. An officer handcuffed me and took me to jail. I spent a few days there, trying to figure out what had happened to my life. How did it come to this? I had reached the pinnacle of my career as a pilot for UPS. I had everything going for me. Having left my wife in 1993, I didn't have anyone weighing me down. I had money, girls, friends, a great job — everything a guy could want. My life was all about saying yes to myself.
But then I got caught at work stealing airline tickets. I didn't know how much my job had meant to me until the night I was fired. When I went in that night, they didn't just take my badge - they took away my entire identity. All these years, I had let my job define me. Losing that job felt like I was dying. But just because I had lost my job didn't mean I was giving up my lifestyle. Hard-headed guys like me don't go down easily. Without a job, I started missing child support payments. They gave some warnings that I better pay up, but before being sentenced, I still thought I was untouchable. That day in court was a major wake-up call.
After my jail time, I stayed in a halfway home. I lived out of a duffel bag. I was allowed to work, but I wasn't allowed to drive. I rode the bus all around. I ended up working at a bagel shop. Some days, I'd run into co-workers from UPS. I can't describe the shame I felt. I know what I'm about to say doesn't make any sense, but it was during this time when everything I had worked for was dead, and my old life had died, that I started to finally discover true life. With nowhere else to turn, I returned to the faith of my youth. I began praying honestly and searching for comfort in the Bible. For the first time Jesus became real to me. I started saying no to me and started saying yes to Jesus.
Soon after leaving the halfway home, I got a great job and started climbing the corporate ladder. My success was back. But I was afraid the old me would come back, too. I wanted to make sure that the old me stayed dead. I got on my knees and asked God to guide me and I committed to living completely for him.
These days that continues to be my prayer. Now I mentor young men at church who are looking for spiritual guidance. God managed to take my mistakes and turn them into a priceless tool for keeping the young men I mentor from making the mistakes I made. I am also working with incarcerated men. It has become my passion to bring God's hope and healing into the broken lives of these men. Only God could take that kind of mess and turn it into a message about grace and redemption. My name is Gary Polsgrove, and I am not a fan."
St. Augustine once said in his well-known classic "The Confessions": "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You." I've often turned that into a prayer I pray for others who are walking aimlessly in sin, seemingly oblivious of their need for the Lord. I've prayed for others (maybe even some of you!): "Lord, give them no rest until they rest in you."
To some it may at first sound "mean" to pray such a thing. Yet if difficulty, hardships, trials and failure are what God uses to show us our desperate need for Him, and if we will never come to Him so long as we are comfortable where we are, it really is the most loving thing I could pray for any unbeliever or straying believer. In fact, in love, I pray that for any to whom that may apply right now.
In the Bonds of Christian Affection, Pastor Jeff