Sharables – Testimony
Pastor Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor
When thinking about my story and road with Jesus Christ, I can simply describe it as “NOT DESERVED!” So many times God has intervened and directed my paths, and man was I way off track. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understandings and in all your ways He will direct your paths. I have truly found these truths to be evident in my life. I have been blessed with an incredible family. My Dad and Mom are superheroes in the faith. I do not just say that to compliment them, but I truly believe it. Knowing what my parents came from and how they got to the point of being used by God to do incredible things, I just stand back in awe of how incredible God is. They both have a passion for God and His people and would fight all of Hell to try and reach just one more person. They raised my brothers, sister, and me in the church. I am sure you have heard the adage, “Every time the church doors were open we were there.” That was us as a family. Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights and usually a couple of other days sprinkled in throughout the week.
It is crazy to think of the incredible things I have been able to see God do. In my own life, the salvation story is much different. I heard many stories of crack addicts coming to Jesus and stopping their addictions only by the power of Jesus. There are miraculous stories of God just stepping into someone’s life and making them new. I can remember thinking to myself, man I wish I had one of “those” stories. It was 1990, and I was 5 1/2 years old. I had to say half because at that age you included halves because if not you lied and just said 6 to round up! At that time, we had a dynamic kids’ ministry (thankful for a church that continues to find children important and puts effort into kids’ ministry). As the kids’ service was ending, they gave an altar call and asked if anyone wanted to receive Jesus into their heart? I felt the Holy Spirit speaking into my life and a conviction I could not deny. Yes, at just five years old, I felt conviction. The only problem for me is that I was extremely conscious of what people thought of me. We will talk more of this as well go, but it is something I have fought my entire life. SO… I fought off what others thought and raised my hand. A man named Doug Brady came by and took me to the last room on the right, at the end of the hallway and led me to the Lord. To this day, I am blessed to have Doug as a friend. He led me through the sinner’s prayer, and I knew that I needed Jesus to forgive me of my sins. That night I was baptized at Sunday night church by my dad.
On that Spring day, my walk with Jesus began. I can remember lots of details and faces, so make sure you talk to your children about salvation and their need for Jesus. I know with my kids it is easy just to think they are kids and they will figure it out. I am thankful for men and women who constantly helped me see Jesus. Now the Proverbs 3 verses came into effect in my life. Man did I try to walk on my path and lean on my understanding. I constantly worried about what others thought, so I was led astray by things. Far from perfect and being convicted of my sins as a teenager God was constantly working on my behalf. I tended to have a bit of a mouth (ok still working on that), and many times I would have to go to God in repentance of things I said or did. As a teenager, while my uncle Steve was preaching I felt called into ministry, but this something that scared the living daylights out of me! First, my parents were superheroes, and I could never live up to them. Secondly, what would people think? These two huge obstacles were difficult for me to overcome. The enemy constantly threw these things in my face and took me as far away from ministry as I could get.
In high school, I was a pretty good basketball player and had a few colleges looking at me to play at their school. In my senior year, I got an offer to play at a little small Bible college in Grand Rapids, named Grace Bible College. Not knowing God was leading and directing my paths to this “Bible” college, all I wanted to do was play basketball and meet girls. So I committed to going to this college, and in the fall of 2002, I headed off to Grand Rapids, MI. Man, did I make lots of mistakes, but somehow God continued to lead and guide me. Grace (as in God’s unnerved favor) is something I look back and stand amazed at how God showed me favor. I am not sure if it was the many people who tell me that they prayed for me constantly or God just feeling sorry for me, but He continued to bless and lead me. I met this amazing / smoking hot girl when I was a sophomore in college and man did she get lucky (just kidding)! We started dating and ended up getting married between my junior and senior years of college. There are lots of stories where I messed that relationship up and should have lost her as well, yet God constantly worked in my life. I am so thankful for her and helping me become the man I am today.
I guess what I am trying to tell you is that I have been blessed WAY beyond what I deserve. That is my life and my salvation story. I deserved death and separation from God forever. Just as I should not have anything I have in my life, however, God is incredible and saved me! I could sit here and tell you of many more mistakes and many times I ran from God in what I call my “Jonah Journeys,” but each time I ran, God came and got me by putting people in my life that helped steer and direct me, (thank you Kevin Dean, Gabe Marshall, Bob Marshall, Steve and Stacey Shadley, and many others I could spend naming and taking up this whole thing). In summary, Lamentations 3 shows my heart and is something I cling to every day; “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’” I am a walking example of God’s grace and mercy being new every day; man do I need them! I am thankful for the men and women God has placed in my life. From parents and grandparents committed to the work of Jesus Christ, to the people who put up with a dumb kid in his late teens and early twenties; God directed my path and has led me to a place of thankfulness!