Green Pastures, Mammon or God

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"Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. My name is of no importance. What is important is the life lessons learned through my experience and how God's miracles worked through the biggest of sinners, me.

I once was a drug addict, an alcoholic, a foul mouthed hater of the human race. I lived alone, homeless. Every fiber of my being was consumed in getting high to escape the worlds reality. I will not go into detail about this; you just need to know my background before the miracle happened.

I lived this way for twenty plus years. I do not blame a violent childhood. I do not blame society. I do not blame anyone but myself for this lifestyle. Circumstances did not make me this way. We all have choices in this world. I chose of my own free will; the lifestyle of a drunkard and a refuse of society.

I was in Knoxville, Tennessee when I decided to get out from under my bridge and try to sober up. I did not want to die a miserable drunk under a bridge and let the rats eat me. I just knew there had to be something better. So, one day I crawled out from underneath my filthy bridge and started to walk. I did not care where I went, as long as it was away from there.

I did not have a plan. I got on Interstate 40 and stuck my thumb out. Where I ended up I did not care as long as it was away from Knoxville. I tried to run from my problems. Trouble is, they always follow me like the plague.

Little did I know that God was directing my path? He chose my direction and my destination. At that time I was completely unaware of God's guiding steps.

Let me tell you, at this time I was real mad at God for letting me be born, for inventing me. I did not ask to be invented so I thought this miserable life was His entire fault. actually hungered for death but was too chicken to take my own life. This is a feeling of compete desperation, isolation and hopelessness that I pray not one of you have to experience. This was my frame of mind before I stuck my thumb out.

After a few cars, I caught a ride. The man said, "Where ya goin?"

I said, "l don't know, away from here."

He said, "Get in, I know a place in North Carolina and I'm going by there."

So I got in and here starts my journey towards salvation.

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Before he dropped me off, he asked if I was hungry. He stopped at McDonalds in Asheville, North Carolina. He paid for lunch and gave me the change, a little over $10. He told me God loves me and directed me to Western Carolina Rescue Ministries.

Of course, I did not go there first. I had enough money for a 12 pack and a pack of smokes. I arrived at the Rescue Mission a day later, hung over and broke, not just in monetary value but broke in spirit as well.

I checked into the shelter that night. The next morning someone told me of their drug and alcohol program. The program is for people just like me, it is to help us get off the street, to redirect our lives in a biblical manner. I inquired and they took me in. At that time I was just happy to get off the street and into a place where I did not have to eat out of dumpsters and beg for money to stay drunk. I did have a little part of me that wanted to be "normal", whatever normal was.

The program was called the discipleship program. I did not care about the "God" part of it but I thought I could fake my way through. I did not intend to stay long. Just long enough to save some money and go on a big bender. Boy was I in for a rude awakening.

I managed to get by for 3 months before the miracle happened. I was still angry at God and the rest of the world. I gave plenty of reasons for staff to throw me out, mainly my anger towards others. God had other plans and put it in their hearts to keep me on the program.

One day I was in their thrift store doing my chores and God decided to touch me. Touch is a very light word, let's just say that He smacked me upside the head and reached inside me and grabbed my heart of stone and turned it into mush. It was like the difference between night and day, darkness to light. My heart of stone crumbled beneath God's jackhammer of love. I could not stop crying. I "FELT" for the first time in decades! I did not hate myself any more. I did not hate anyone else. An honest from God peace enveloped me, completely changing my heart and outlook upon life.

Right then and there I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I was saved by Grace through Faith, I believed!!

I couldn't believe how "alive" I was. Words cannot explain the depth of love I experienced for the first time in my life.

I talked with a counselor about my experience and he was excited. He could tell I was not faking any more. He knew I had a God experience, a GOD experience.

From then on, my outlook upon life changed. It got turned upside down and inside out. What made me sad was looking back on my life and seeing all of those years wasted, twenty plus years.

I was alive for the first time in my life and I could vividly see who I was before Jesus touched me. I was not sad for me. I was sad for all the people like my family I did not contact for years. was grieved for all of the hateful things that I did to people. I was devastated for all the good things I could have done but purposely did not just to be spiteful. I saw all of the ugliness I became and it was like a spear through the heart. I decided to change my life.

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I did look at the man in the mirror and I saw a stranger for the better looking back at me. I saw hope and not hopelessness. I did not hate myself anymore.

It took me a year but I did graduate the discipleship program. I could not have done it without the staff at WCRM. I could not have done it without my peers at WCRM. I definitely could not have done it without that special touch only Jesus can bring to a lost soul.

I then decided to volunteer for a year of my life, giving of myself to the ministry. They let me drive the thrift store donation truck for a year. The Bible says if a man makes you go a mile, go with him two. They taught me for a year and I gave my life back for a year.

I absolutely loved it. I felt useful. I loved the people I worked with and I got to pray with who donated when we picked up items at their houses. This is the best a man could ever feel — ALIVE. I learned that this is what it means to truly be alive in Christ.

When my year was up I decided to go back to an old job I had. I traveled with the carnival on and off in my twenty year drunken stupor. Bad decision.

It went well at first but every day I missed more and more the ministry at the mission and I really missed doing God's work. I was now out of God's will for my life. This ministry at WCRM was and is tattooed on my heart. I could not shake the calling to go back. To tell the truth I should have never left. Lots of people are called, few are chosen and I was chosen to be here by God.

I stayed on for 5 years at the carnival. I promised my boss I would stay till he retired. I was only supposed to be one year but he dragged it out for four more years.

I liked the work, the people I met. The longer I stayed, the easier it was to ignore God's calling on my life. It finally became a lingering spark.

I was way happier volunteering at the mission. I was working for God and not man. All of my needs were met at the mission; Food, clothing, shelter and an allowance. The carnival payed $500 per week but the money did nothing for me except enable me to collect stuff. My favorite sterling silver and turquoise rings, necklaces, fancy clothes and Indian stuff. Soon I had a big collection. This became my God.

I was miserable again. Not as intense as the drunkard days or when I crawled out from underneath my bridge. I was heartsick because I knew God had other plans for my life and the carnival was not one of them.

Close to the end of my fifth season on the road, I made a decision to go back to Asheville, NC to the mission. I was going to show up sporting a ring on every finger, turquoise necklaces dripping off of me, showing up in my fancy clothes. All in all to say, "Hey, look at me!" but God had other plans.

The Bible says in Matthew 6:19-21, lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (here is my favorite verse) for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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Well the last week of the season I went back to Laurel, Mississippi from Montgomery, Alabama to pick up a load and bring it back to Alabama. I had to leave my living quarters in Alabama.

While I was on the road to Mississippi someone broke in my bunkhouse — living quarters and stole everything I collected and then some. All gone! The only things I had left was my travel pack for the road. I was devastated, heartbroken, real angry and upset. I spent over eight thousand dollars of hard earned money on that stuff. It was gone in an instant. I was heartsick. I stored up for myself treasures on earth and completely forgot about my treasures in heaven. I forgot what it was like to be most content with nothing. Sometimes nothing is everything. I forgot what it was like to serve the Lord God and how fulfilled I was serving Him. Luke 12:15; "take head and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

Then like a lightbulb being turned on, I remembered, oh sinful me, I remembered.

I repented right then and there. The longing to get back to Asheville and the mission returned with a vengeance and I did not care that I had nothing but my travel pack. What a release from bondage of the cares of this world that was.

1 Timothy 6:6-10 but godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be there with content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with arrows.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Mammon being my stolen stuff.

I finished the spot in Montgomery and immediately got a bus ticket to Asheville. I did not let anyone know I was coming, I just came.

I knew in my heart, I felt it in my bones that I would be welcomed back to the mission with open arms. I was not ashamed when I arrived here. I was not ashamed when I arrived here, I was relieved. I escaped the cares of this world and was back on track. I listened to God, followed my heart and arrived at this doorstep. I was welcomed back with open arms. Years before I must have left quite an impression on staff because all of the staff that knew me came downstairs and hugged me and welcomed me back.

I feel like I am at home, I am at home. I feel like the prodigal's son arriving home. I am grateful to God Almighty for this mission. Again, they let me stay here and volunteer. I am way more satisfied in this life doing God's work whichever way He wants me to. I am willing to do whatever, whenever I am needed. No amount of earthly goods or money can ever come close to the feeling I get from simple things such as; mopping the floor or washing dishes after the homeless eat. This is God's house! Who would not be happy mopping God's floor! I get a chance to pray for the homeless people I see going through the chow

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line. They do not know I am praying for them, God does. This is a gift to me as well as it is for them. God came into this world as Jesus to save these lost souls. I know that I was one of them and I am still one of them. I'm no better than. I am just saved by Grace through Faith, hopefully a living example of Jesus' Love.

What a privilege it is to be useful. I don't care if I ever have an earthly job again. I am satisfied being a humble servant in God's house. Every one of my needs (not wants) is met here. I am in need of nothing.  There is no monetary value you can put on the privilege it is to just serve.

After your salvation, don't wait five years like I did to be on the path God chose for you.

In the Lord's Prayer, the first sentence says, "the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Next it says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures."

Are you my friend satisfied in your green pastures? Or do you want something like a better paying job to buy more things. These things may be wants. Are these wants of yours a better car, a bigger house, or a better phone? Are these wants necessary or are you grateful and satisfied with what God gave you already? Sort of make do with what you got and be happy with it. Are you my friends always on the wanting lookout for greener pastures over the next hill? Do you even know what lies between your green pasture and the next? It very well could be your hell on earth.

Would you be happy and completely satisfied without your wants? Would you be content and at peace mopping God's floor without an earthly reward? Would you be grateful if your green pasture was cleaning up after a bunch of homeless people? I am no better than you, it's just this IS my green pasture.

Think hard about what God is already calling your green pasture. Appreciate it, nurture it, lie down like the sheep and be content in it. Anything else is a want.

Be aware of the phrase, "1 want this or I want that". The Bible says, I shall not want. Be satisfied with what you already are blessed with. If not you are messing up your blessings.

When you want, you are plucking yourself out of your green pasture. The wanting alone means you are not satisfied with what God has given you. This means you are not happy with what you already have. I am sure some homeless person would love to be in your shoes, oops, I mean green pasture.

Take heed my friend, the devil is looking to devour your green pasture.

In conclusion, I would like to say, no amount of money, no big fancy car, nothing makes me happier than seeing a man or woman or child come through the soup kitchen line. After eating they hand me their plate and with a sincere heart, "thank you". This is all the riches and rewards I need. Absolutely nothing on this planet comes close to making me feel closer to God than at this moment.

 thank the Lord Jesus Christ for saving my soul and giving me a chance to give back what was freely given to me. It is a simple thing, love. The Bible says, "God is love".

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I hope I did not offend you reader in any way. I pray that I am not representing myself as better than you. I am just a servant who really would like you to be happy, content and at peace in your green pasture, whatever your pasture is. I pray to God the Father this letter finds you for a better. Be safe, God Bless you. Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences with you.

Remember, without the Shephard Jesus Christ, you will never find your green pasture at all.

Sincerely,

Just a servant, part of the Body of Christ

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