There are a thousand details that come together to eventually become the story of one’s life. The beauty in God’s plan: ALL details can be made purpose-filled and bring glory to God when we say yes to Him.
We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan.
— Romans 8:28 (NLV)
For Robert, one specific moment became an answer to prayer. “It was the day I read the last paragraph of 1 Corinthians 1. I had never before considered God’s purpose in calling me. Today, it’s my pleasure to boast in His timely goodness.”
Robert played football as an All-City Linebacker for Sunnyside High School in Tucson. He loved the sport and loved the people around him. Though his parents were alcoholics, they were functioning. They both worked and led outwardly normal lives. Yet, there were moments when their addictions affected everyone. “I have a memory of riding in the car with my dad. At the time he was drunk, driving up and down the same street. We were lost in our own neighborhood and were unable to find our way home. Fortunately, he high centered our car while trying to cross a ditch. Neighbors came and took the keys away from him before he killed someone.
When I was only 16, my father changed occupations and made the decision to move our family from Arizona to California. I didn’t want to leave. I still had 2 years remaining with the football team, and aspirations of a career. In one swift decision, I lost my home and the family ties I depended upon. I was alone in Tucson, still playing ball, but now living with my football coach and his family. I suppose, looking back, I felt betrayed by my parents.
Eventually, after graduating High School, football dreams ended. In the winter of 1979 I met my future wife, Jan, who was visiting relatives in the AZ at the time — it was love at first sight! We stayed in touch as pen pals when she returned home to CA. Eventually, I moved to Riverside, CA to live with my brother a couple of years later. Jan and I were married over time and remained in a fairly solid relationship for over 12 years. Her friends became my friends. I suppose I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. I was still carrying around a lot of resentment — it tainted how I related to people. I was trying to fit in. I used weed. I used women. I followed the crowd. When my weed use escalated to crank, it took over our lives and our marriage ended. It wasn’t long before alcohol became my focus.
I’ve tried to evaluate the 30 years I spent wallowing in my addiction. I was angry, fearful and insecure. I had trouble letting people in. I destroyed relationships. Looking back, I remember how frustrated I was with my own parents’ addictions and how their choices affected me and my four siblings. We all carried the addiction genetics. My youngest sibling still struggles with it today. I can, however, see in my parents what I once felt, having allowed pain and addiction to rule over me. I drowned the feelings I carried rather than allowing them to build character in me. The ultimate pain came when I felt the connection to shame — being lost with my father that day in the car. It led me to wanting something more.
I tried the Salvation Army twice, but a 6 month program just wasn’t long enough to deal with a 30 year addiction. I relapsed after just 4 months of graduating. The next time I relapsed after 8 months. Yet, while I was enrolled the second time at the Salvation Army, I heard Leonard Adams [a former graduate of the Mission] share his story while giving the gospel message in chapel as a guest speaker. I never forgot his story, nor how the Mission had helped him. I must have tucked that message away, because it was the one thought that came to me when I was scared, sleeping under a freeway off-ramp in 2008. His story brought me to the Mission.”
Robert’s commitment to the Mission program and his willingness to submit his fear and pain to God finally broke the cycle. “I was hired by the Mission the same day I graduated from the Mission’s Academy. I started as a laborer and quickly advanced to Journeyman. Under some terrific guidance, I learned to take on relational challenges. Soon I was a Foreman, then Maintenance Manager.
It’s been an incredible experience, building a relationship with God and working for the Mission. God has brought out in me the desire to take responsibility for myself and bring out the strengths in others. He designed me to STEP UP, not to hide. As important as it was that Jesus saved my life, I am more grateful that He saved my soul! I want that for others. I want them to know the power of the Lord, too!
I have that opportunity; to influence future generations, not only in my family, but in the families of the people I touch. Today, working in management and actively taking on the role of mentor, I am learning to use the details of my past to speak into the lives of the men placed in my care from the Academy. Even the personal relationships I shared that seemed hopelessly lost are now coming back to life. My son, Robert Jr., was only 5 when Jan moved to Florida with him. My other sons remained in my life, but they never really had my best, considering I was under the influence in their youth. Today, I have a great relationship with all four sons. It’s inspiring, and I am truly grateful to God for the blessing of second chances. Jan and I also remain good friends to this day.
I owe a great debt to many who touched my life along the way. To Leonard Adams for sharing his testimony; to Coach Seward, who was more than my High School coach. He was a Christian man I admire. It wasn’t that he preached or quoted scripture while running drills from our team’s playbook. He just lived out his faith by example. I credit much of what I remember about being a person of faith in my memories of him.
I also owe a great thank you to my grandma for her continued prayers over me. Long ago she had a vision from the Lord; a promise of generational healing. She had prayed for me for years. I now hold strong in that message the Lord gave to her [and to me.] I pray the same prayers for my family today.”
“Christian brothers, think who you were when the Lord called you. Not many of you were wise or powerful or born into the family of leaders of a country. But God has chosen what the world calls foolish to shame the wise. He has chosen what the world calls weak to shame what is strong. God has chosen what is weak and foolish of the world, what is hated and not known, to destroy the things the world trusts in. In that way, no man can be proud as he stands before God. God Himself made the way so you can have new life through Christ Jesus. God gave us Christ to be our wisdom. Christ made us right with God and set us apart for God and made us holy. Christ bought us with His blood and made us free from our sins. It is as the Holy Writings say, ‘If anyone is going to be proud of anything, he should be proud of the Lord.’”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (NLV)