Restoration. Its not just a spiritual concept that I preach to others; it has become a living reality in my life. In 2003, after a series of horrible choices, I experienced a complete emotional and spiritual meltdown which forced me to step away from ministry after serving as a Pastor for over 25 years. The weeks and months that followed were some of the worst of my life. My family was torn apart, my former church was hurt and confused, and I sank into one of those "black hole" funks that I had heard others talk of over the years, but refused to believe would ever happen to me. But it did. And consequently, God taught me about restoration in an up close and personal way.
He began by surrounding me with a group of men consisting of a Pastor, Ministry leader and several Godly Businessmen. They walked me through an intense rebuilding process that involved the spiritual, as well as the emotional and even physical aspects of my life. For two years I dealt with my areas of failure and pain as God moved me toward a time of healing and restoration.
Then, after being out of ministry for nearly four years, I began preaching again, sharing my story and encouraging Pastor's and churches about how to avoid the mistakes I made. One of my mentors, asked me to serve as Teaching Pastor at his church in Tampa, which I did for over two years. Then, on January 15, 2008 I began the New Day Church in Brandon, Florida.
Incidentally, I would not want anyone to get the idea that the restoration I have experienced to this point has been all fun and games. Hardly. This healing journey (that I am still on), has taken several years thus far. It has not always been easy or something that I looked forward to every day. In fact it has taken more effort and faith than I ever imagined. It has often been painful and uncomfortable. But, it has been worth it.
You see, I'm learning some things. And I'm learning them at a time in my life when I assumed I had nothing else to learn. At a time when I figured I knew it all. I am learning:
That I have to forgive myself as He forgives me.
That I am to forgive others as I have been forgiven.
That restoration is not an event, but a process. A process that is life long.
And He is teaching me that today is a new day, filled with new chances and opportunities to love and serve Him, and new chances and opportunities to love and serve those around me. I'm not nearly where I want to be in life right now, but I'm so much closer to being there than I was in 2003. I thank God every day for that.