Friday, January 11, 2008

Mike "Bishop" Swalley's Testimony

I grew up in the Lutheran church until I was 8 years old. At that time my family,
which consisted of my mom, my sister and myself, moved to an evangelical covenant
church. This was a great move for me in the long run as the Lord surrounded me with
some great friends and pastors. My family at this time was a big part of who I was. My
father had passed away when I was very young, so I was close to my mom and sister.
When I reached middle school the security I had in my family started to crumble.
There was so much pain that I experienced in this time that I turned from my family, and
quickly went to my friends. But my friends were going through much of the same things
I was and there was not much security there. The relationships would fail and hurt, and I
was tired of the pain. So I turned to sports and school as my identity. I could understand
those things and they brought me the acceptance and popularity that I desired.
I continued to go to church and put on a good front, but I was a tare among the
wheat. I knew a lot about God and was heavily involved in my youth group. I was on
the leadership team with my youth group, and was the vice-president for our local FCA,
but it was all an image for me. This was my group and where I felt comfortable. But I
did not have a saving relationship with the Lord, mainly because all of my other
relationships were ending in hurt. Why would it be any different with Him?
Amidst all of this, I was not aware of my personal rebellion to the Lord and how
dark my sin was to Him. No one had told me that I had broken God’s Law and because
of that I needed Him, or at least if they had I was not hearing it. The God in my life was
football, and ultimately what people thought of me through that. I went to a Christian
college to play football and would much rather have been known for being a good player
than a man of God. And that is exactly what I got. I played well my first year and that is
where my identity stayed. Surrounded by Christians now more than ever, I continued in
my way of simply having my faith as just another thing I did, refusing to face the pain of
my past. I had yet to commit my life to Him, to die to myself and follow Jesus.
My second year of college I got a few concussions in football. It put me out of
the season for good, and they told me that if I got one more I could never play again.
This really hit hard for me because my entire identity was wrapped up in football. Not
being able to play, coupled with post concussion syndrome, put me into a deep
depression. One afternoon as I was laying in bed, I simply cried out to God that if he was
who I had heard he was, to make himself known. I got out of bed and read Romans 8:35-
39 and saw the love of God in Christ Jesus. It finally clicked in me how much I needed
Jesus. Everything I was doing on earth was temporary and my identity here would do
nothing for me when I stood before the Lord because of my sinful nature. I cried out to
God for His forgiveness, and he faithfully answered. I truly saw that His love would
never fail me and I knew this because when I was his enemy he died for me (Romans
5:8). Now that I was his son, he would never let me go.
It has been a process since that afternoon of my sophomore year of college. I did
get another concussion the next year and had to quit playing football. My relationships
with family and friends bring me a lot of joy, yet still cause pain and heartache. The
grace that saved me is the same grace that sustains me. Despite the fear and uncertainty I
face in ministry, I am driven by the love he has for me to tell them of the same love he
has for them.

1 comment:

madblue said...
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