Following is an extract from a parishioner’s testimony recently published in The Harbinger, a newsletter of the church my son Blake pastors in Southwest Harbor, Maine. It clearly encapsulates the struggle and victory many of us have known
My primary goal in life was to find a career which would bring in a lot of money. Money meant success. Thus began my climb in the world of derivative products and trading in the global financial markets. Though we attended church, my relationship with God was nil. I was too busy trying to build by career. In my mind my life was perfect. I had the perfect job working as a head trader managing a portfolio of international convertible bonds and I had a wife and two children. We were also living next to all the other successful people in Fairfield County Connecticut. What did God have to do with anything? I made it all happen.
There was a big problem brewing underneath all this narcissistic success. I not only had no relationship with God, I was slowly destroying my relationships with my own family. The more successful I became, the lonelier I felt inside. No amount of drinking, buying larger homes or expensive cars, taking extravagant vacations, or attending outrageous broker paid boondoggles could take away my growing feelings of being lost and broken. No matter how hard I tried to find escapes, my dread increased. I have a distinct memory of pulling out of the Mercedes dealership in a brand new SL500 roadster. As I drove down the main street of Greenwich, Connecticut, I became more and more aware that everything I thought this purchase would deliver was nothing more than a lie. I felt distant and empty. I did not feel any of the love or respect I so desperately thought I had earned. God had left me alone with myself. I hated the shallow self-willed person I had become. I left the hedge fund industry in 2002 and completely stopped drinking in 2003.
I thought the answer to my problems lay in psychological counseling. Once I had it all figured out, I could be on my merry way. I was not looking for God. Yet, He was not done with me. In 2005, as I was taking a walk through Putman Park, I started to think about Jesus on the cross. His words, Forgive them Father for they know not what they do, kept rolling around in my head. I began to cry as I walked and I knew that He was the answer. Christ was the truth. He embodied forgiveness, relationship, and love. Most things I thought I had to earn. Nothing would ever be the same again. Every aspect of my life, especially relationships, began to change from that point. God was working all along the way. It was simply amazing. It was amazing grace.
By the grace of God we moved to Mount Desert in 2008. We sold our house in Connecticut on the same day that Lehman went bankrupt which preceded an even more precipitous drop in the housing market. We found this wonderful church in Southwest Harbor full of Christ centered people. I have never before experienced such love accept from my family, who always stood by me even during my worst moments. When I look back over the course of my life I see that God was always present. My best friend during my days at Rutgers was a devout Baptist. It never occurred to me to change my ways while in his company or to accept Christ. He was my friend despite my vulgarities which he never condoned or participated in. Another friend was the CFO of the hedge fund I worked for in Connecticut. He gave me my first Bible, which I read now almost every day.
I primarily experience the love of God through others. Most are probably unaware of the seeds they sowed in me. God bless them. The first time I walked into SWHCC and heard Blake’s sermon, I knew that God had sent us to Maine to find this church.