#85 When We Become Dependent On God, Our Real Adventure Begins


Photo by Renee Toole

I grew up in Chile attending a church started by US missionaries where I was baptized. One of my main connections with Jesus at an early age was to experience Him as a restorer through the prayer of my mother. When I was five years old, an older kid tricked me to do sexual activities without mentioning it to my parents. I didn’t know what I was doing, but after a while when I was nine years old I began to have nightmares about it. I felt much shame and pain. I remember feeling the voice of the enemy whispering that this episode defined who I was. 

My mother took me to psychiatrists, but none could help. She gave up on the doctors and began praying out loud for me every night, and speaking the truth about who I was and how God felt about me. God worked through my mom’s prayers and I was restored and healed completely. I learned that experiences don’t define us—only God does. 

In the midst of this crisis, the US missionaries left Chile and my parents got divorced. God became sidelined in my life and tennis became my main priority. At 18 I set in my heart that I was to become a professional tennis player, but just as I was about to begin traveling, I received a full scholarship to play tennis at a US college. I didn’t want to go but my parents wanted me to go, so I went. I didn’t know anyone and was very lonely. I joined a fraternity to be accepted and have friends. But after much drinking and partying, I was ready for a change in my life. I didn’t speak the language well and this made it hard to go to church. However, even though I didn’t go to church, I remember praying, “God, help me to change the world with You.” 

During my sophomore year, another Chilean student came to the same small college I was attending. He was from my hometown but I didn’t know him. I felt like I needed to be his friend. There was something different about him that I wanted. I took him to parties and tried to get him into my world but I knew he was uncomfortable. So we stopped the parties and just hung out. He always talked to me about God and this was in my own language, which really helped me. He told me about miracles and encountering God. This challenged me because I had never heard about this. His faith was more of a relationship than a religion. 

One morning at 3 a.m. we were studying for a Chemistry test and he asked me, “Is Jesus the center of your life?” When I heard this I was convicted of my lifestyle. I could not lie. I asked him, “Does God want to be the center of my life? Is this possible?” He said, “Yes, it is the only way.” So I turned completely to God that night. I felt God inviting me to a great adventure. I felt God’s love, God’s power. 

I became a new person and little by little started to make radical changes in my life. I knew God was calling me to something greater. I started to read the Bible like crazy and tell everybody about how amazing Jesus was. I began worshiping by playing guitar and singing (as I had done as a kid). I remember riding a skateboard and praying, “I want to change the nations with You, Lord.” The Lord spoke back and said, “Why don’t you begin with that homeless man in the street?” He narrowed down my view from the world to the right here, right now. “What are you going to do about that man who is right in front of you?” 

That summer instead of going home, I went to live in a homeless shelter. After two weeks, I was burned out and regretted coming. Their problems were bigger than my faith. I had been preaching the gospel but it wasn’t working and no one had been saved. I was operating on my own efforts, wanting to be the Christian superhero, but the Lord invited me to the real journey. The journey was about Him. I heard Him say the John 15:5 verse, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Two days later a friend texted me that same verse. I stopped what I had been doing at the shelter and instead got up early every morning to abide in God and get to know Him. I prayed, sang, and fasted. I was filled with joy but no one knew why I was so happy. After a week, a homeless man asked me, “What are you doing in the morning?” Then the homeless men asked me to come outside and play for them what I was doing in the morning. So I worshipped outside with them. The first time I worshipped outside with them, God came and encountered all of us. Most every day we did this, and as we worshipped, many would repent and surrender to Jesus. There was deliverance from addictions, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love for one another. We became a family because God’s presence was there. 

We must make God the center of our lives. When we do, we will experience God’s love and presence more deeply and find the place we really belong, a place of intimacy with our Father. When we become dependent on God and surrender, God’s power is unleashed in amazing ways, and our real life adventure begins.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#84 Measuring Life Differently


Photo by Trevor Rapp

A little over four years ago, as I was sitting with my mother in the hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, monitoring her first chemo treatment for cancer, I received a very unexpected phone call. The captain of the local fire department delivered a stunning message: “I’m sorry to inform you that your house is on fire.”

I couldn’t have been more shocked. We’d only been in our new dream home for six weeks. I’d hung the final picture on the wall in the great room the previous evening.

“Thanks for calling,” I said (it felt silly to say that). “I’ll be there as soon as possible.” I hung up the phone and promptly called my wife. Fortunately she wasn’t home and neither of us had any idea as to the cause of the fire. She said she would go home immediately. I arrived about an hour later.

Driving up to the scene was a surreal experience—two fire trucks, an ambulance, and five police cars added to the trauma of it all. A group of neighbors stood on the sidewalk. We joined them as we all watched the firefighters throw our household furnishings into a large pile of charred debris just off the right side of the porch. A gaping hole in the roof, just above the fireplace, indicated the area where the fire had begun.

All of our family albums, wedding books, and baby books were in plastic containers in the basement. A single ember burned a hole in the floor in the living room and landed directly on top of the containers downstairs. Nothing else in the basement caught fire, only our most cherished possessions—family pictures and irreplaceable mementos of the past.

Darkness was beginning to converge and I realized we had nowhere to go and no clothes other than what we had on. I called a nearby hotel and explained the situation. An hour later we were guests there, room 106.

It took six months to rebuild, as we navigated from one hotel to another, one apartment to another. Here’s what I learned on the journey.

The things we think are permanent…aren’t.

God is permanent. He never left us, never forsook us, or let us down—not once.

Some things are unexplainable. We should save our easy answers for math problems, not human suffering.

It could’ve been worse. We could’ve been sound asleep when the fire started. We could’ve been killed.

People are wonderful. So many neighbors and friends called and offered assistance, even inviting us to move in with them.

Our stuff isn’t as important as we think it is. Sometimes it takes a catastrophic loss to truly understand that.

God can redeem anything.

A year later, my mother passed away from her two-year struggle with cancer. Nine months later I was diagnosed with cancer…just six weeks after I began a new job. After surgery and two years of treatments, I’m now cancer-free. God has been at my side through the entire journey.

Shortly after my diagnosis, my wife and I were walking in our neighborhood on a lovely autumn evening. As we walked, she said, “I can’t believe my husband has cancer.”

I stopped, hugged her, and said, “Honey, remember one thing: I have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me. We are more than our bodies. We are spirit, soul, life, and personality. We mustn’t ever forget that.”

Many of us need to measure life differently. Some need to live moment-by-moment, rather than looking back or too far ahead. I’m grateful for the entire journey.

God loves you, despite your deepest trials. I’m convinced that He sheds two tears for each one of ours. He’s like that, you know. He cares. And…He redeems it all.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#83 “God Is Good And Wants To Heal Her”

Photo by Ashley Brown, Shining Light Photography 

A number of years ago, I was called to the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital to pray for a child. I was told that she was a four-year-old from Eastern Kentucky who had been airlifted to Lexington. She had fallen on the playground and had broken vertebrae in the upper part of her neck. She was paralyzed from the nose down and was currently on a ventilator so that she could breathe. A pastor friend of mine had been visiting her faithfully each day since the accident, but was going out of town. He asked if I could fill in for him until he returned. 

At that time, I was the mother of three young children (7, 4, and 2 years old). I dropped my children off at my mother-in-law’s house so that I could make the hospital visit. I was not prepared for what I saw or what God would do. As I walked into the room, I was overcome with compassion. This child was absolutely beautiful. She had a gorgeous blond ponytail that filled the pillow above her head, and crystal blue eyes. All she could do was look at me through those eyes, because, of course, she could not move. She looked bewildered and afraid. 

All I could think about was my healthy four-year-old, and I was overcome with compassion for her. Her grandmother was in the room and told me how they had just given the child a sedative. That morning her sister had visited for the first time and she was very agitated because she could not move or talk to her. As we stood there talking, she fell asleep. The grandmother said that she was believing for a miracle, and that if God would heal her, she would spend the rest of her life testifying about His goodness. 

All of a sudden, faith rose up inside of me. I can honestly say it was supernatural. I boldly said, “God is not going to heal her because you are going to testify about it—God is going to heal her because He is a good God and wants to heal her!” 

Then I grabbed the little girl’s leg and she opened her eyes. I freaked out! I was more surprised than anyone. I said, “Did you see that? She opened her eyes when I touched her leg?” The grandmother and I just stood there staring at each other, amazed at what we saw. 

The little girl fell back asleep and I left to retrieve my children. The next morning, I received a phone call from my mother-in-law. She was super excited and said, “Did you see the news this morning? That little girl you went and prayed for was on the news!” She relayed the story she had seen on the television that morning. According to the nurses, they were sitting in the nurses’ station in the middle of the night when this little girl crawled out of bed and walked into the room! God had completely healed her!! God is truly a good God!

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#82 He Sees Me White As Snow


Photo by Morgan Worley Photography

I asked Jesus into my heart and was baptized in third grade. I grew up in the church and was lucky to have the opportunity to learn about God and the Bible multiple times a week. I knew all of the stories. I knew all of the facts. And that’s what my faith was: facts. I never understood how to take these facts and turn them into a relationship with God. 

I had been a believer for 10 years by the time I got to college. But throughout parts of my time in college, there was someone in my life who was pulling me away from the Lord. The relationship was never pointing to Christ, and this person quickly became an idol in my life. This made it very easy for this person’s emotionally and mentally abusive words to soak into the core of who I was. As a result, my identity was formed around these harsh words. 

I am unimportant. I am unlovable. I am unworthy. I am unwanted. 

I lived with this identity for close to two years before finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I began meeting with a woman from a local church for biblical counsel. We met for four months. She helped me work through many passages, but one day sticks out to me above the others. She told me to write out all of the reasons I needed forgiveness from God and pray through 1 John 1:9 in the time between our next meeting. When we met again she asked if I had asked God for forgiveness. She was puzzled when I said I hadn’t. She had me read 1 John 1:9 aloud. “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” Then she asked me if I believed what this verse said. Of course I believed it; it was another one of the facts that I had memorized as a young child. Jesus came and died on the cross for the sins of the world. Easy. But then she asked if I believed this for me. 

Tears immediately started rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t comprehend Jesus would do that for me. But it’s true. Not only did Jesus forgive me of my sins, but He blotted out the stains the sin left. When God looks at me, He sees me white as snow. After two years of asking all the wrong questions, I asked for forgiveness and He renewed me in the same instant. 

And now I have a new identity. I am a daughter of the King. I am chosen in Christ. I am created in the image of God. I am adopted by the Father. These truths ignite a fire in my soul because I know that my identity and worth come solely from the One who fearfully and wonderfully made me in His image—praise God! 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#81 My Weakness and Shame Brought Into His Strength and Victory


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

Since high school, I’ve always known what the Lord was calling me into—ministry, worship, and music. I always knew that His promises for me were big ones. But along the way, I got distracted by pride, greed, jealousy, boys—you name it. I got so distracted that eventually my worth and identity were found in worthless things. 

When I was a freshman in college, my boyfriend, who I thought I would be with forever (go ahead and raise the red flag here) suddenly broke up with me because “God told him to.” Instantly, the lies were accepted in my heart that God wanted me to suffer. That I wasn’t actually worth anything to Him. The Jesus that I used to sing about didn’t actually love me and that He died for me out of obligation. That nobody would ever love me and that I was alone. My own desire to be separated from God and the pain I thought He was causing, led me into self-deprecating thoughts and actions. I began hurting myself and concocting ways that I could possibly end my life, and I began to hear voices in my heart that encouraged me to do so. 

A professor at the college I attended, by what I believe to be divine inspiration, started noticing me. I was making sure that I was covering up my pain both physically and emotionally, but still, she saw me. She gave me words of encouragement about how she has dealt with depression. To not give up on God. That there was hope. It was like water to my arid heart. Through her words, some particular wounds began to heal and I was at least able to pray again and allow Him to replace some lies with His truth. But still there were other lies that were deeply rooted in my heart about His affection toward me. 

Fast forward eight years, and I thought that particular part of my life had been healed. I was pretty much satisfied with the way things were going. I had gotten married to a wonderful man, been actively involved in my church in Lexington, and was going through an intense interview process to be on staff at that church. The morning of my second interview, I looked at myself in the mirror and the Holy Spirit said to me, “They’re going to ask you about your past and you’re going to tell them about your freshman year.” Instantly, tears were streaming down my face with the desire to keep that part hidden. I didn’t want to admit how much I had been deceived into thinking the thoughts that I did. I had never shared this part of my life with anybody and now I would share it with people that I was trying really hard to impress. 

I wanted to appear to be the perfect candidate, but through faith, I obeyed. I cried through the whole thing and it was still painful and felt shameful. So later that night I went out for a drive and I just cried out to God and said, “I still feel so ashamed!” and His voice pierced my heart with a choice. He said, “You don’t have to be ashamed.” He showed me that what I thought were my weaknesses and losses could be brought into His strength and victory if I would let Him—that my worship could be more powerful coming from a once broken place than a place that’s never known His power and healing. 

And from that place I’ve seen Him do wonderful things. I’ve seen Him cultivate vegetation where it was once dry, dead, and cracked. I’ve seen Him produce fruit! Now when I sing and worship, it comes from that place. Not just by what I’ve heard about my Father, but what I’ve experienced of His love! It’s by His power and His presence that my heart has been made new, and it can sing again! What I used to hate about my past has now become very precious to me, but only because God has done something through it! I’m just so thankful.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#80 Trying To Take God’s Job From Him


Photo by Erin E. Photography

It’s about two in the morning. I’m sound asleep, and my phone rings. Tired and confused, I look at my phone and see that my older brother is calling me. I pick up the phone and he frantically says, “I need you to go check on Dad; I don’t think he’s okay.” So I spring out of bed and run downstairs to find that the door to my dad’s workshop is locked with hard rock music blasting from the inside. I bang on the door, preparing to knock it down, when he opens it and is intoxicated to the point he can’t stand by himself or hold a conversation. I immediately rush my dad to the hospital, where I sit with him for six hours as he cries and begs the doctors to let him die. They were able to save him and kept him for an extra two days to ensure he wouldn’t try it again.

In the wake of this disaster, I was left depressed, confused, filled with anxiety, and unable to sleep—for every time I closed my eyes, all I could hear was my father crying. I tried drowning my problems with food, with counseling, and even with staying so busy I had no time to think. Not even blasting music through my headphones at night helped me to escape. The worst part of all of it is that I couldn’t drive past my parents’ neighborhood, let alone hug my own mother, without having a panic attack. I also blamed myself for all the madness my little brother had to witness, because I was no longer there to shelter him from it.

After months of depression, I started to forget who I was and what my purpose in life was, and I found myself sitting in my car late at night, questioning whether or not anyone would notice if I was gone, and thinking to myself about how easy it would be to simply leave the car on, fall asleep, and never wake up. Instead of deciding to go through with it, I called one of my friends, Keith, who offered to let me stay on his couch for a few days to help me get past it. He helped me to get over my depression and taught me how to rely on God more than I ever thought I could. He taught me how to give my depression over to Him.

But no matter how hard I tried, the anxiety that came from seeing or talking to my parents just wouldn’t go away. I was so torn. I tried giving my parents more and more tries by spending time with them, hopefully convincing them that their drinking was a problem, but they would only get offended and continue drinking. The worst part of it was that I still felt anxious being around them, so I felt guilty for not wanting to help or see them. My other option was to just avoid them entirely and pray for them, but this seemed to only do harm because they would constantly call me to tell me they were angry at me for avoiding them.

For months I went back and forth between these two options, only to discover that neither would work. I eventually had a conversation with my mentor who told me that a lot of my anxiety was coming from the fact that I was not fully trusting in the power of the Gospel to move in my parents’ lives and that I was taking their salvation in my own hands, not realizing that all I can do is preach the Gospel to them when they are willing to listen, knowing that salvation rests in God’s hands. He also told me that I was being the parent, when God is calling me to be the child. I prayed to God, asking for forgiveness for trying to take His job from Him, and I asked Him to take it back. I prayed that God would work a miracle in my family and that He would bring us together again.

I got a call from my dad not too long afterwards, telling me that he and my mother were waking up early every morning to read the Bible together, and that he threw all of the alcohol out of his house to get over his addiction. Finally, I no longer get anxious at the sight or thought of my parents, and I no longer daydream about what it would be like to no longer be alive. God has healed my family and He has healed me.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#79 A Passion And Joy For Heaven


Photo by Trevor Rapp

It’s 12:50 a.m. and I can’t sleep. Tears are streaming down my face and thoughts are rushing through my head. Seventeen days ago my dad died unexpectedly. He had major health problems but he was the definition of a warrior, and death was never an option. But on a normal day, like today, he left this earth to be with Jesus. 

Even now, 17 days later, it doesn’t feel real. I’ve never felt such strong emotions about anything before. I don’t know how to act and I don’t know what to think. But I want to tell you one thing—this is just the beginning of my story. 

Over the past year, God was preparing me for this life-shattering moment. At the time, I had no idea. Last semester, I led a small group through a book called Through the Eyes of a Lion—a book written by a man who lost his five-year-old daughter to an asthma attack while she was helplessly lying in his arms. The author explains that pain for a believer is a microphone to those without Jesus. It’s all fun and games until you have to love Jesus even when you can’t find the strength to get out of bed in the morning. People outside of faith begin to watch you as you struggle through heartbreak, in whatever form it may take. They think, “There is no way she will still love Jesus after that.” That’s the funny part; that’s the punchline. The pain doesn’t diminish, my heart still aches, I still cry all the time—but God. But God makes it possible. 

I have suffered a lot of pain, even prior to my dad’s death. I lost my 15-year-old cousin in 2012 to a freak drowning accident. I share these things not expecting a pity party, but for you to see that Jesus really does change everything. I can say that with confidence and I would share that with anyone. It is an honor to be trusted with pain, for God is near to the brokenhearted. The world will tell you that your story is over, but I promise you, this is just my second wind, and it’s going to take endurance. 

Since my dad passed, God has instilled in me a passion and a joy for Heaven! Not just for myself, but for others. I do not want anyone that I come in contact with to not know or see the reflection of Jesus—because if they don’t, everything I have said is inapplicable. If you are going through pain, do not rob yourself of grieving. We are all human. But also, please do not disqualify yourself from Heaven. God lost his only Son so that you and I would have the hope of the same reunion Jesus experienced as He returned home to the Father. There is a confidence in my heart that I will see my dad again because of the Father’s promises. 

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#78 Just Four Words, “I Love You, Child.”


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

In 2011, between high school graduation and moving onto campus at a private university in Louisville, I handed my life over to Jesus during one summer week with my church in Florida. And that made all the difference. I’d known a lot about God from a lifetime of Sunday school, but doubted He could be trusted; I had a thing for expecting everyone to harm me if I let them get close enough. So, choosing Christ would be “all things new”—or it would be nothing new. 

That fall, a few months into my newly-surrendered life, my life fell apart. Not that it was perfect before—but disordered eating and self-loathing were old habits and a well-hidden way of daily life. They were my miserable lot, I assumed, for being myself—however long I lasted. As tradition, my 18th birthday in September brought a visit from my grandpa. He understood me. He just did. He was proud of me, and if I close my eyes I can still see his crinkly, smiling blue eyes, and hear him humming “You are my Sunshine.”

But two weeks later, an afternoon brought a missed call and voicemail. I still hate voicemails. A family friend had accidentally called me instead of my dad. The only words I heard were, “David, I’m real sorry to hear about your dad”… Something, something, “sudden.” … Something, something, “if you need anything, let us know.” My world went dark. I remember making frantic calls to my mom and dad, and making a grief-stricken spectacle of myself on campus main. 

Grandpa. A violent stroke and tiny chance. An early morning drive to North Carolina—but no, he was gone already. Like Grandma four years before. Like Poppy two years before. Something broke in me. I lost it. In the weeks that followed, my barely-managed depression took control. Any efforts to keep college friends ceased; my vision blurred; everything happened to me from a mile away, like people tapping on exhibit glass. I was achingly lonely. I was terribly afraid. Nothing could break into my dark cloud; I couldn’t break out. And the enemy ramped up the old accusations, “No one even sees you and life would be better off without you.” I already believed that; the sharp, new grief made me desperate. Yet, just months before I’d stood on the ocean shore and told God I’d give Him my whole life, if He’d have me. The Bible said He would, so I’d begun reading every day and now kept on, fighting to catch a glimpse of Him—in case life with Him could save me. It’s not hyperbole when I tell you I whispered Isaiah 41:10 under my breath wherever I went those days, over and over: “So do not be afraid, for I Am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I Am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My mighty right hand.”

But fear filled me; dismay wracked my body with sobs when I was alone. I fled to my room whenever class let out, barely interacted with roomie and friends, rarely ate but did so alone, beat my body into submission at the gym with music drowning out the people. Alone. Alone. Alone. Better that way. Safer that way. “Help me, God.” Out of control. But I’ll remember this forever, and my life has turned into a shout of “My Abba is trustworthy,” because of this: Yahweh keeps His promises. He is with us and He holds us. 

I was stumbling to a late-semester exam on medical Latin and Greek roots, no thought in my mind but dully flipping my notecards, when I stepped foot onto the crosswalk between buildings, almost to class. Suddenly—no, a car didn’t hit me—a voice tore through the heaviness drowning me. Four words. While the world just mumbled and roared in the distance, the voice split the static like a trumpet blast, calm and matter-of-fact, softly like a wedding vow. Out of the blue; out of the blackness. I can’t say it was audible. No one else was in sight. But I heard it. I stopped. My cards dropped. And tears filled my eyes. I actually saw the sun shining. My fog cleared the tiniest bit. Rescue. Belonging. Hope. Just four words. “I love you, child.” That wasn’t my study material talking. It wasn’t self-talk (goodness knows I used a cruder vocabulary for myself). No, the Father’s voice broke in like the voice of a friend: I knew it, though that was the first time I’d heard it. “I love you, child.” Each one of those words meant a world within itself to me: All that He is. Loving. Me. His child. He saw me; He sees me. He loved me; He loves me. 

That day on the crosswalk, He began a process of healing wounds and growing courage in me that still carries me through daily life. His love changed me utterly, and changes me still. Simply, I found someone I could trust. Profoundly, His faithfulness meant that my old fear-driven patterns of playing small, starving myself, and putting up walls were not for me anymore (even if the process of laying those down is a marathon and sometimes feels impossible). In the following months and years, He kept calling me to leap out in faith and catching me when I jumped with arms outstretched. I transferred to Asbury University at His nudging, stepped into worship ministry in front of crowds, moved to the Dominican Republic for a summer, worked with middle-school kids, learned to be a leader on campus, and made friends who called out the courage in me and fought for me in prayer. The Father did that. I handed Him my life almost six years ago, and I have to laugh in awe and thanksgiving at the difference Jesus makes in a broken soul (and the way He continues to heal me of daily fear, and calls me “whole”). I stand here a new creation—all things are new.

I cried again writing this, feeling the pang of loss again. Pain is real (and we know that even Jesus wept). But these promises are just as real: The Lord is strong enough to hold you up and hold you together. You will not drown in grief or fear or rejection forever. When you receive His grace, the only thing that will last for eternity is His limitless love. And You are loved. Your hope for healing and freedom is well founded in Christ. Joy comes. In this life. I promise. I pray over these words as I scribble them down, that the Spirit weighs them down with mercy so you believe them now if you don’t already: The God who left heaven for earth to love us in person, who died to give us life, who conquered the grave once and for all, and who still scatters all darkness to shine resurrection light on tear-stained faces… He has loved you forever, and will love you forever, and He can be trusted. He does not rip the rug out from under you. He sees you and calls you by a better name than the painful ones seared onto your heart, by others or yourself. He hears you and He is at work bringing about what is good—that you would know Him and live fully in His love. He is right here, closer than breath, ready to speak if you ask Him (and sometimes if you don’t). 

This isn’t fluff. These aren’t platitudes to tide you over. This is reality. You can lean your whole weight on Christ; He will not give way beneath you. You can show Him everything about you; He will not walk away, but run to you. You can kneel at His feet, and hand over everything you have and all you think you are into His hands; He will not dash you to pieces. He will redeem your life from the pit. He will crown you with gladness, remove your despair. He will sing over you. He is who He says He is and does what He says He’ll do. He is good. The Word promises that. And He lives it out. Life is unpredictable and broken sometimes. Jesus is not. His love for you is sure and it is wholehearted. Take my word for it, sure—please do—but take His word for it. He is good. Draw close to Him. He draws close to you. Trust Him. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#77 I’d Never Experienced Such Direct Divine Intervention


Photo by Trevor Rapp

“I’m sorry, Gary, but you can’t stay. You need a fourth of your tuition. That’s just school policy.”

The business manager had given me this same message three days earlier. Throughout the weekend I had gone through the small community of Grayson, Kentucky, knocking on doors offering to do odd jobs—painting, mowing, clearing brush—anything to raise $160 dollars, which (remarkably in those days) was a fourth of the tuition for my first semester at Kentucky Christian University.

I’d left home with $50 and a suitcase, selling the only thing of value that I owned—my saxophone—to raise the money. I believed God wanted me to go into ministry. My parent’s marriage had ended two years prior. I’d been in a serious accident (without insurance). My father was sued, filed for bankruptcy, and we had to sell our house and move into a small apartment. My mother was distraught, talking frequently about suicide. Life was difficult. But I wanted to go to college.

“Surely there’s a way,” I said to the business manager. “I’m willing to work. I just haven’t found a job yet. I know I can do this.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I really am.”

At that very moment, his secretary entered the office. She said, “Mr. Parrish, I just received a check in the mail payable to this young man’s account. It’s from a church in Louisville. It’s for one-fourth of Mr. Black’s tuition!”

I still remember how surreal that felt. I had done everything I could do and had come up with nothing. Nothing. And then, suddenly, God stepped in.

“You’re in,” Mr. Parrish said. “But there’s a long road to travel. Are you up for this?”

“I’m willing to work.” That’s all I could think to say. I was still stunned by the whole scene. I’d never before experienced such direct, divine intervention.

We talked for a few minutes, and as I got up to leave, his secretary came back. “Mr. Parrish, I’m still going through the mail, and I just opened another envelope with a check inside, payable to Mr. Black’s account. The donor wishes to remain anonymous. It’s for the remainder of his first semester’s tuition, and part of next semester!”

I sat back down. I felt so unworthy. So broken. So confused. “I came here to work my way through college and I reached a dead-end after one week,” I said. “I’ve never felt so desperate and defeated as when I walked in here today. It’s all so humbling.”

“Sometimes God waits until you’re desperate,” he replied.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because we need to come to the end of ourselves, and that’s a good thing,” he replied.

I’ll never forget that. That moment. Those words. That experience. And that’s how I went to college.

Every semester, for the next four years, I got another check from “anonymous” for more than half my tuition. To this day, years later, I don’t know who sent it. Obviously God sent it…through someone He prompted. Sometimes He works that way. Especially when we’re desperate.

I sometimes held three jobs at a time over the next six years (including graduate school). I occasionally hitchhiked back to Louisville when my mother was in her darkest places. Looking back, it was all a blur. An inexplicable God-venture that sometimes seemed to breathlessly move at the speed of light…and I was carried along, often exhausted, sometimes emotionally drained.

As I look back on it all, here’s my conclusion: God did it. All of it. I was merely a pawn in His divine game of chess. A willing pawn, to be sure. But He’s the King and He makes all the moves. 

You know something? It still works that way today. But sometimes you only learn that…when you’re desperate.

Dearest Heavenly Father, please…keep me desperate. 

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#76 The Beauty Of God’s Creation at B6

 Photo by Trevor Rapp

When I left Wednesday, flying out to California for work, it was very early. As I waited to board the plane at the airport, the sun was just rising. The sky was breathtakingly beautiful. I stood at Gate B6, gazing out the window, soaking it in and smiling at the gift that God so freely gives us every day. People were all around me—reading the paper, typing on their computers, looking at their phones, listening to the news on TV. And me too…how often I miss God’s beauty. It becomes a blurry background to my life filled with many deadlines, demands, and distractions. I wanted to share this magnificent sight, this sunrise, and proclaim to the entirety of Gate B6 the beauty of God’s creation. But I did not. My hope is that perhaps now I am sharing with even more people than those waiting at Gate B6.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.