Sheldon was running from God, not realizing everything he wanted was found in God.  Thankfully, God was running after him.  The Journey came along in his life at just the right time.  He was searching for his purpose, not exactly sure what to make of his life up to that point.

He was a gifted athlete, who could have played at the highest levels, but one tragic day in high school, he got word that his best friend and cousin had drowned.  His cousin was one of the nicest guys he knew, the best friend to everyone, so Sheldon couldn’t understand why God would take him.  He wondered why God didn’t take him instead.  For the next 10 years, his anger and bitterness drove him far away from God.

Sheldon hid within himself, tormented by his past and feeling undeserving of a future.  He pursued a college football scholarship, when his real heart was playing baseball.  It seemed he had something to prove to his family.  However, the football career did not work out and he transferred schools.  Later, he found a job working with kids in a Community Action Program and also part-time at a fitness center at the community college.  At each of his workplaces, God had strategically positioned two of His people in Sheldon’s path.  At the Preschool, there was Rosie.  He would see her reading her Bible quietly every day.  In his past, Christians were the ones who crammed the Bible down your throat.  However, Rosie never said a word to him about God, yet her witness could not be ignored.  At the fitness center, Greg, a Journey brother and Sheldon’s boss, was a quiet, respectable Christian, as well.

The searching young man wanted the peace he saw in these two witnesses.  He finally asked Rosie where she went to church.  Then, he wanted to know if you had to dress up for her church, for Sheldon was always more comfortable in athletic apparel.  She told him he could wear whatever he wanted.  So, he decided to go.  Interestingly, who does he run into at the church service but his boss!  Greg was visiting the church, as well, and for the first time in a long while, Sheldon, began to see the orchestrating hand of God in his life.

Sheldon finally surrendered to God and was reborn.  He felt the weight of guilt, bitterness and pride taken off his shoulders.  He began to read God’s Word and wanted to know more.  He was invited to a men’s retreat, and though he could not afford to go, someone graciously made a way for him.
It was there that he discovered James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”  For so many years, he had kept his pain deep inside of himself, and he never knew you could share your heart with others and not be judged.  He found healing and freedom in praying with other men.

Greg invited him on The Journey.  When Sheldon heard it was a 9-month process, he, at first, balked.  Once again, someone stepped up to provide his materials and the Holy Spirit coached him toward this group.  He sat quietly in this group of strangers, rarely saying a word, but soaking up the love of God.  He still carefully guarded his heart, not entirely sure if he could trust these men or even if he could trust God.  He kept looking at the Guides of his group, trying to figure out if they had some angle.  He finally realized that these men merely wanted to share the love of God with him.  Sheldon was drawing closer to God, and he began to see that God had gifted him with unique insight into His Word.  Psalm 8:2 struck a chord in Sheldon’s heart.  It says, “From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise.”  He realized that even baby Christians, like himself, could contribute to the body of Christ.  He thought of his hometown and how many people didn’t really know God and did not know His Word.  He thought of all the fatherless men who needed to know their loving Heavenly Father.

Though Sheldon thought he would, one day, become an athletic trainer, he believes God has other plans.  One day, he was praying, “Lord, how can I help others know what is in Your Word?”  As soon as he prayed the words, he heard a voice behind him, saying, “Quit your job.”  The words were so audible that he turned around to see if someone was in the room.  This has led Sheldon to an adventure of faith, living one day at a time, trusting God to provide for his needs and show him the way.  He started a worship service on Friday nights, where he is preaching God’s Word and sharing God’s love.  He is working with Greg in a non-profit ministry to bring healing to those in need.  He is also using The Journey to help men have a safe place to share their burdens and as a tool to help them find the treasures in God’s Word.  He believes if God had not brought him through The Journey, he would not have understood so many things about how God works.  If he had not learned about Discipline and Pruning, he might have been discouraged by the trials of life and given up.  The Journey prepared him for the road ahead.

Sheldon has been set free.  The wounds of his past are healed, and he now receives and gives God’s love freely.  He now sees his worth through the eyes of his loving Father.  He now has so much grace for those who are where he has been.  Whereas sports and competition once defined this gifted athlete, Sheldon now runs the race marked out for him by God, with his eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of his faith.

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