Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius
In this final chapter I am going to share a story about an ordinary weakling who believes that the Glory of God is very real. This man is a research scientist who has been trained to ask really hard questions that can only be tested and validated with data. He has never seen God’s Glory on a mountaintop or heard God speak from a burning bush. But he has come to believe that God’s Glory is real. It is more real than the flesh that sustains him.
This man understands that the distance between the head and the heart is immense. He has been trained to trust his mind more than his feelings. However, he has also learned through experience that the truly meaningful things in life require the engagement of the mind and the heart. This foolish man reads the Bible in the morning and the scientific literature during the day. He doesn’t even see contradictions anymore. He has come to trust God more than he trusts himself. He feels compelled to tell the world about the Glory of his Savior, Jesus Christ.
I know this man’s story because it is my story. I was very sick at birth and not expected to live, let alone walk or live a “normal” healthy life. By the grace of God I overcame the odds and was raised by parents who have always loved and supported me. They helped me survive a childhood full of bullies who often made me feel small and less than desirable.
When I became a teenager I found solace and friendship through alcohol, which led to a life of dependence. Alcohol transformed me into the man that I wanted to be: brave, bold and outgoing. At least that is what I told myself. Drinking would cause me to hurt those closest to me because when I was drunk I really didn’t care about anyone else except myself. I was on a mission to prove to the world that I was significant and desirable.
During those turbulent years I fell in love with an angel. She was much too good for me then and she still is now. We were married and my first childhood prayer was answered. God sent me my soul mate to love and support me despite my many, many faults.
Fortunately, I never let my dependence on alcohol affect my studies or work ethic. I was able to secure a job that has allowed me to fulfill a second childhood dream. I always wondered what it would feel like to be one of the scientists in the textbooks who live on the cutting edge of discovery. Now I know. It is just as exciting as I hoped it would be, but the problem is that it is never enough. Just like with alcohol, and everything else in life apart from God, the high that you experience with each new discovery is exhilarating but fleeting.
During the first twenty-three years of my life I prayed to a God who I believed was closer to people who were much more holy than me. The God that I knew was defined by the opinions, traditions and teaching of others, not by my own investigation. I knew that there must be more to faith than going to church a few times a year and praying when I needed a little help. I believed in God, but I was too busy building an empire to think about Him.
Life seemed perfect on the outside. But when I slowed down enough to listen to my heart I still felt empty inside. Living in a new city with no friends prompted us to look for friends in the bars and even a few churches. When we visited one church because we noticed it on the way to the mall, an energetic man with white hair named Max noticed us right away. Before we knew what hit us we were connected to a small group of young people in that church. Later in the week we were being treated to waffles and sausage at a local restaurant. During our dinner conversation that night Max’s eyes seemed to burn right through me and I felt naked and vulnerable. Most of me wanted to get up and leave but the other part of me wanted to stay. I knew that this white, curly-haired man had the answers that could address the emptiness that I was feeling inside. As Max talked, I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. I now know that the Holy Spirit was speaking through one sinner to another, convicting me of my sin, and calling me towards a greater life in Christ.
I made it through the dinner without choking and left the Waffle House with some literature to read. I read the material that Max gave us before my dinner had even digested. Within hours my wife and I were talking about areas of our lives that we had never shared with each other before. We ended the evening by kneeling together at our bedside and giving our hearts and lives to the Lord. I can’t prove to you that God exists. All that I know is that something miraculous happened that night that has transformed the past twenty-two years of our lives.
I felt “lighter” and everything immediately took on new meaning in my life. Building an empire and drinking just didn’t seem that important to me anymore. I was hungry to read and study the Bible for myself because I wanted to figure out what was happening to me. Fortunately Max didn’t stop with a waffle dinner. He took us under his wing and poured his experience and wisdom into our lives along with many other young men and women at that church.
Through a long and painful process I have begun to understand that the only opinion that really matters in life is God’s. This knowledge has helped me to become fearless for Him. I still feel the call for a life of significance, and I occasionally care more about what people think about me than I should. But now I see that the best legacy that I could leave is to live my life for God’s Glory. I’m just an ordinary weakling and that is just fine with me.
The Lord has blessed us with four incredible children who have all entrusted their lives to Christ as well. I pray that they will not have to make as many mistakes as their dad has in their journey of becoming more like our Savior.
That takes us to the book that you are reading. I know that I am not the most gifted writer, but I have always dreamed of writing books that would engage the mind and the heart. I hope that God has used this well-worn brush to write something that was worth reading. I figure that if God can speak through an ass he can speak through anybody (Numbers 22:28). I have learned a lot while writing Our Glory Is His and I hope that you learned a few new things too.
I would love to hear your story and your thoughts about the infinite Glory of the Living God. If you are an ordinary weakling like me and would like to share your thoughts and stories with me I’d be honored to read them at www.lenwinneroski.com or http://www.recycledpress.com.
May the Lord richly bless you and may He reveal His Glory to you in a powerful and very real way today. God is inviting you to share in His joy and His Glory, but you will have to use your mind and your heart to find it. All that God asks of us is that we admit that we need His love and forgiveness and that our glory does not belong to us. Our Glory is His.
1 Corinthians 1:27
Taken from Our Glory Is His by Len Winneroski
Thanks, Len. I can empathize a lot with your up-bringing. Unfortunately, most of the mistakes of my life were made after I had it all. Home, wife, kids, family–the whole American Judeo-Christian Dream. I set it aside for selfish control and the cowardice to say “No!” to the temptations of the flesh and devil. I went down to an unrecognizable point, where the only thing that kept me sane was Romans 10:13. I was God’s child still, but I was not His servant (I’m still working on that one!) It is strange that now that I’ve ruined everything in my life (humanly speaking) that God is working more through me than I ever thought possible. That’s Jesus for you!
“Gutter-most to the Utter-most!”
Yours in Jesus Christ,
Bless you John! Amen to the “Gutter-most to the Utter-most.” Our biggest hindrance to living God’s dream for us is the person in the mirror. Thank you Lord that you don’t leave us in the filth and dust when we reach for you. All things are possible for those who’s hope is in you alone.
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17