Monday, January 14, 2013

My White Chair Story

I just finished the 22-Day Challenge from I Am Second. It is definitely worth checking out! I really like the simplicity of the videos and the principles behind the ministry, especially the small group component. The basic format for the videos involves individuals sitting in a white chair telling their story, illustrating how Jesus is first and they are second. (I guess one could make an argument that it should be called "I Am Last," but you get the point.)

The Challenge's last question was, "What is your white chair story?"

Well, here's mine.

I remember pulling in to the empty Post Office parking lot with my dad on that weekend afternoon. He told me that he needed to tell me something. Then, he shared that he would be leaving our family. He said, "I love you, but I can't stay." I did not know how to express or label it until later in life, but it was at that moment that I stopped trusting people.

From my parents' divorce at age 10 to subsequent family ruptures, I went through my teens with a greater sense of loss than gain. Living with bitterness was all that I was really good at. The one exception was the refuge I found on the basketball court.

At the end of my teenage years, I had sabotaged the only relationship I deeply cared about, failed out of college, and had no job. Anger had evolved into rage and continued to grow. I was mad. Selfish. Immature. Irresponsible.

One day, during a summer men's league basketball game, it came to a head. Within the first minute of the game, in an odd circumstance, an opposing player stepped on my shoelace and it came untied but knotted at the same time. I frustratingly knelt down, attempting to undo the knot while cussing under my breath. After a few moments, the referee asked me to sit on the side and fix my shoe while someone took my place. Everyone wanted to get on with the game.

Everything ugly about bitterness rose up in that instant from deep inside me. I unleashed a torrent of profanity on that official. When  even my teammates suggested I calm down, I turned my wrath on them. I yelled at the referee, the players, and everybody who could hear me. The official issued me technical fouls, kicked me out of the game, the gym, and the building.  While storming out, I hit the door and continued spewing out garbage.

Seconds later, I was behind the building and all alone. It was the most depressing and hopeless time in my life. I was out of control. No plan. No future. I could act tough in front of others, but not in front of myself. I already knew how weak I really was.

I sat down against the wall, buried my head in my hands, and I cried. And I kept crying.

One week later, I found myself with a group of guys, including my ex-girlfriend's father, on a trip to Denton, Texas for a Promise Keepers conference. I reluctantly agreed to join them, thinking it might be a way to get back in the good graces of my ex-girlfriend. Frankly, I could not care less about Jesus and the faith they all shared. The whole point of the conference was to worship and honor him. It sounded like a boring waste of time, but I had nothing better to do.

We arrived a little late. As we entered, I will never forget the moment I reached the top of the ramp leading to the stands and being able to look out across the stadium for the first time. I saw and heard tens of thousands of men singing in unison, praising God together. It was one of the most beautiful and powerful scenes I had ever taken in. All colors, all ages, all backgrounds. Sufficed to say, they had my attention.

When the first speaker came to the stage, he asked the crowd, "How far do you think you can throw a football?" People from all over the stands shouted. The presenter played on their egos. "40 yards?" "50...60...70 yards?" Cheering and boasting filled the air. The numbers climbed. He said we could give it a try, turned and retrieved an item from the back of the stage. He stepped back to the front of the stage and exclaimed, "Okay, here you go!"

He held up a football.

...A football that was flat as a pancake. No air inside!

I immediately became unsettled. I felt like my insides were shaking.

Now it wasn't the men that had my attention. It was God. The only other words I remember hearing the speaker say were, "You can never be what you were designed to be if you have nothing or the wrong thing inside you." My emptiness became suddenly apparent.

In that same instant, God was real. God was true. God was big! And for the first time ever in my eyes, God was love.

I surrendered my life to Christ that day. It's a silly expression, really. Surrendering is an act that should only be reserved for an enemy. Before then, though, that is what I thought God was. Since then, not even the word friend is good enough for Him.

It was June 12, 1994.

Over the years since that start of a new life, God has been the perfect Father. I haven't always liked what I've had to face, but His faithfulness is amazing! His peace is indescribable. His grace is enough. Knowing Him, by itself, would be a remarkable story of victory.

But God has done more. The ex-girlfriend is now my wife of 13 years. She is my soulmate. We have two fabulous and precious daughters. I earned three college degrees, volunteered and worked as a pastor and teacher. Currently, I am an educator. I am blessed by living close to most of my family and having positive relationships with them, and I have reconciled with my father and we now talk often.

Jesus teaches me all the time. He is full of truth, hope, and love. He never leaves me.

My name is Marc Scott, and I am second.

What is your "white chair" story?

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