“I love the Lord because he hears my voice
   and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
   I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
   the terrors of the grave overtook me.
   I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
   ‘Please, Lord, save me!’
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
   So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
   I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
   for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling.

And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
   as I live here on earth!
I believed in you, so I said,
   ‘I am deeply troubled, Lord.’
In my anxiety I cried out to you,
   ‘These people are all liars!’
What can I offer the Lord
   for all he has done for me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
   and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
I will keep my promises to the Lord
   in the presence of all his people.

The Lord cares deeply
   when his loved ones die.
O Lord, I am your servant;
   yes, I am your servant, born into your household;
   you have freed me from my chains.
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
   and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
   in the presence of all his people—
in the house of the Lord
   in the heart of Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!”

-Psalm 116

Greetings, all! Second-rate Christian here…

I think it's time to give you all some background to my walk with God at this moment. {They don’t really care though. You’ve burnt too many bridges and God doesn’t want to use you the way He used others Godly men in the past…} [Don’t listen, Garrett. Push on.] Is that His voice or mine? I don’t really know, but I’ll go on anyway.

My Testimony (sort-of…)

I became a Christian my freshmen year of college at the University of Central Oklahoma. Leif Nevener and Joshua Cooper were in the room as I bawled my eyes out and said, “God you gotta fix me,” while my heart cried out so much more. Up until that point I thought I was saved at the age of 11 or 12. I can’t even remember how old I was, all I know is I heard a sermon in the church service, felt a little sad and when my family and I got home, I talked with my parents about it, my mother prayed a prayer for me and voilà! I was saved. Funny though, being saved didn’t feel any different than not being saved, and I certainly didn’t live in a way that was any different. In fact, my life up through high school and into college was dominated by lust, pornography, filthy language, thieving, tons of dishonesty, extreme pride, and the on/off moments of self-loathing and self-deprecation. Yeah, being saved sucked. But, I met a girl at the end of my senior year of high school that really changed my perspective of what it meant to be saved. It’s hard not to feel guilty for the way I treated her, though. She was the first girl I think I loved in a way that didn’t aim to exalt myself, because she truly loved Jesus. However, I messed it up, and in doing so, God gripped me and brought me to Him. So, in a way, I am thankful for that screw-up, even though I cringe sometimes at the thought of it. That moment I mentioned early of bawling my eyes out in that dorm room at UCO while Leif played the guitar, and he and Josh sang “You Won’t Relent,” was the start of not just being “saved,” but really, truly, knowing Him.

The Early Days…

I was so on fire for the Lord after that. I studied every Psalm and Proverb I could, dug through the Gospel of John like a man who has just struck gold, and prayed like crazy. I was growing, being discipled, and laboring in the faith. God took away my filthy language and arrogant pride, overnight, and I saw for the first time that I was indeed a New Creation. He also took away my girlfriend, which, though it hurt, helped more than I could possibly say. My new life looked nothing like the old. I heard the audible voice of God telling me to “GO!” And I felt a call to rally Christians to fight for His kingdom. I didn’t know what it meant, so I shared my testimony and what I felt was God’s calling with my pastor at that time, to which he gave me a funny look for saying God spoke to me and then he replied, “You can’t be saved twice, Garrett. You need to stop telling people that.” And then, “You’re being called to be a pastor.” (In the denomination I grew up in, and in many others, there are only three ways to “biblically” serve in the ministry: Pastor, Deacon, and Missionary, so being called to “rally Christians” had to be refined to fit within one of those three roles.) And so, I started preaching and going to a bible institute at the same time as college. I transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University (against my desires, at the time, but now it’s like a second home to me) and all seemed to be going well…

Sticking my own side with a thorn.

So there I was at OBU the latter half of my freshmen year. By that point I had signed up for the Army Reserves, and had started a bible study within the boy’s dorm building, called Agee. Here’s where things start to get a tad unruly for me in my walk… I met a beautiful, great, wonderful Christian girl towards the end of that semester. I was smitten by her. We started dating, and I started to fall in love with her. By the time I shipped off for basic training later that summer, my “smittenness” turned into slight obsession. I couldn’t tell at the time, though. To me at that point in time, everything was perfect. As time went on, however, the relationship became less than perfect. I began thinking I wanted to marry her, but didn’t actually understand what it meant, and something happened within the relationship that began to slowly push us apart. When we broke up, I was devastated. I walked around OBU for hours that night, just crying and thinking about how to get her back. Everything I had done wrong in that relationship crowded my mind. It was awful. To this day, I feel guilty for some of the things I did and said within that relationship. That guilt is one of the thorns in my side. In the process of trying to get past her, I found some really solid dudes of Christ who are still like brothers to me today. I cannot possibly name them all, but should any of them be reading this, just know that I am thankful beyond measure to our Lord for you all and… well I won’t say that phrase here, (but it ends with “…never die”).

And it was at this time that God gave me multiple wonderful elder brothers to disciple me, one of which is Adam Dyess (I love he and his family dearly). There was other things that happened at this point in time as well, and the guilt of them grabs me hard every once in a while. I was so disrespectful to many Godly women and friends at the time. I know I’ve ruined my witness of Christ with them… probably none of them will ever see this, but my heart is heavy for the way I behaved. I’m so sorry. {They don’t care. Nobody is reading now. These words are useless. How could He ever use you to achieve great things in His name? Are you even really a Christian? After all, doesn’t those who love Him turn away from those kinds of sin? You’re filth.} [My Grace is all you need. My power is made perfect in weakness. My Grace is all you need. My power is made perfect in weakness. My Grace is all you need. My power is made perfect in weakness.]
“Once you mature…”

Let me pause and say this before I go on: “Oh what miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s Law, but because of my sinful nature, I am a slave to sin.” -Romans 7:24-25

I’m not unaware of my identity in Christ, or the vastness of His grace and love for me, that’s not what this blog is about. This is my retaliation to the enemy. He has no power here. I won’t continue in guilt from mistakes far in the past. That kind of pride is over. Throughout the entirety of my walk I have been pressed on all sides. I have been rebuked by elders within the denomination I have served for asking questions about doctrine that seems counter or extra-biblical, I have been told that not reading the King James Bible is a sign of immaturity, I have been told that not going to a Missionary Baptist Church is against God’s Will for me, I have been told that my testimony is ruined because I’ve drank a beer, I’ve been told I’m too immature to disciple someone, I’ve been told I overthink things, I’ve been told I’m following the devil by people I love, I’ve told myself that I’m an idiot because I don’t read as many books or know as much math or philosophy as someone else. I also struggle very often with the desire to be married and be a father, thinking I’m too unattractive physically and spiritually to ever be loved by someone in that way.

I have stopped talking to great, Godly women for that very reason. Some of these struggles have literally happened only moments before I typed this blog. Every step I take in pursuit of Christ I find a snare that often catches my foot, or a person whose words bring me to a metaphorical fetal position. I’m amazed at how often little repetitive sin clambers it’s way through my repentance and into my members. I frequently ponder all of the above and wonder if I’m really following Him at all. I haven’t produced a blog in over a month and a half (breaking my word to a brother, I might add) because I just don’t think anybody wants to hear what I fell God has put on my heart. When I look back on my walk, I realize that I’ve hardly done any walking at all, He has had to carry me. {You’re a second-rate Christian, if that.} [You’re my son.] I’m His son.

So, there. A glimpse at my heart for a moment. If I’m this broken and hypercritical, but still loved by Him, then just think of how much you are loved by Him too. And we are loved by Him. “I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.” [And I love you, my dear son.]

Yours truly,
A disciple that Jesus loves.