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When I get out of this fiery furnace, pure gold I will be

By Sam ~

Well here I am, 41 years old, writing on -- not because I want to tell you how wrong they are, but because I agree. If someone would have told me that I was to do this 20 years ago, I would have laughed (and prayed for you).

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I grew up in a large loving Italian-Catholic home. My parents had great faith. My father worked three jobs at times and we struggled every step of the way. The whole time we would all wonder why we had to struggle all the time. We would help people, but would never get anything in return. My father was a mechanic and would always do favors for people who claimed that they couldn’t afford to pay him. (They could have. They were Christians). He, like always, just did it. He was a good man. I guess we assumed that if our time wouldn’t come here on earth, then it would in heaven. I remember my father scraping together a few dollars on Sunday mornings to put in the collection basket.

Well, my father died. Lots of people came to the funeral claiming that he was a great man. But he died just the way he was born -- with nothing. According to god’s word, this man should have been blessed. This always bothered me inside but we were taught to just have faith. The people who gain riches in this world by using others will have their day. They’ll see!

Like all my brothers, I grew up in my father’s footsteps. I had met a beautiful girl when I was 15 years old. She came from a rough family and I wanted nothing more than to save her from it -- to take care of her. We dated through all of school. She then started going to bible studies. I followed. In 1989 I became born again. We (like all the others in the world) thought that we were led to the best preacher in the world! He was old school and he knew the word inside and out. I ate, drank, lived, studied, and pretty much even slept with the bible. I was baptized in the holy spirit and spoke in tongues. Wow! What an experience! Little did I know at the time that this experience would be the only thing I had that was real (I thought) to hang on to. Later in life when I would question Christianity, I would use the tongues moment to prove to myself that god was real. So we married and had the most spiritual wedding that anyone was ever at. Seriously. Our pastor really was good at what he did. The whole church cried during our vowels and prayer. Even my tough Italian catholic uncles. This only fed my fire more. I knew without any doubt, that we were meant to be together and Jesus was the third leg in our marriage. I was 100% positive that nothing would ever come between my wife and I. I had a pack with god that I will serve him and he will keep my wife safe.

Life went on. We pretty much lived at the church. Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights. I left all my good buddies (you know, the ones who were there for me years later when I fell and all the christians ran). I was an elder. I taught Sunday school. I was the pastor’s favorite! He would even come to my house and study the word with me. Just us! It was deep. I wasn’t going to be no lukewarm Christian! No fence sitting for me. I will get to the place where I could walk and talk with Jesus! Like the apostles or Moses!

Now, I can imagine some Christian reading this and thinking that I must have not really been saved. Or something was wrong with me. That is how you have to think in order to believe. When god doesn’t move? It HAS to be your fault!

Years went by. About seven or eight years after marriage, questions started to come. I was in a very stressful business. It was successful of course. It had to be or I could never have given god the glory for it and got myself into this mess. I started asking god, “why can’t I have any peace”? By now I should be bearing all the fruits of the spirit and I should be coasting with joy. Instead I was stressed. Never happy because I could never please god and find his will in my life. I started paying attention to the real person my wife was and started wondering if god really made my wife for me. Why is she so wrong for me? I started struggling. But did I quit? No! I beat myself up more! God is perfect, therefore I am to blame. What am I doing wrong here?? I sold my stressful business and got into another. God told me to do this and this would be my answer to joy. Well in three years, that business was worse and I lost about 50 grand. If I used common sense, I would have realized that it was a dying and saturated business. But that didn’t matter if god told me to do it. So then the answer god gave me was to go manage my best friend's business. He became very successful overnight and needed me. He was a Christian too. This all made sense! God prepared me all this time through my businesses to merge with him. Thank god! Well it was great. I made great money too! Until his sister (who really ran the show and who was a little upset that I made more money than her) had her friend come work under me. All my employees warned me that she was after my job. Did I listen? Nope. God had me here. God is the boss. Well, after a bunch of lies from these Christian women and a few years later, I was on the streets. Fired. Let me say that while I was working at this job, I got a divorce. My brother committed suicide. (Long story there, but in short, he trusted his marriage to god too!) My father died of brain cancer. My Grandmother died. And, I found this new wonderful woman who god sent to me. She was everything that my first wife wasn’t. God really blessed me this time! We bought a house and were engaged to be married. (ended up not working. Won’t bore you with that spirit led drama)

At this point in time, my new fiancée and I bought the house god told me to buy. Both of our other houses were still up for sale. We bought the house we had because it was exactly what we wanted and the owners agreed on the price we offered. My fiancée was very unsettled about buying a house while our other two were still on the market. Was I? No way! Either god is in control or he isn’t. I asked her….Do you believe that god brought us together and wants us in this house? “Yes” she said. I said “then we must take a leap of faith.” For whatever crazy reason at the time, I still truly believed that god wouldn’t let me down. I had to prove that god would take care of us. Well with 3 mortgages and a huge child support payment, this is when my “best friend” and his sister fired me. I stood firm on the lord and was humiliated again. I really really started to question god at this point. Everyone was so gracious to pray for me though! So instead of coming to my senses, I was sure that I was in a wilderness experience. I would remember years ago laying face down on Sunday mornings at the alter crying and begging for god to make me and break me. So I thought that I was special in god’s eyes. He is taking me to a level where not many people would ever be. I am in an awful wilderness experience but when I get out of this fiery furnace, I am going to shine! Pure gold I will be!!

So as I jumped from business to business losing whatever money and credit that I had left, I would bear this storm. I would study and read up on “wilderness experiences”. I learned that god doesn’t just abandon you, but that this is the time that he speaks with you! At this point I think that I really knew in my heart that I wasn’t ever going to hear that voice that I so longed to hear. But I kept listening for it. And I kept blaming myself when I didn’t hear it.

You think that you are doing the right things in life, but actually you are in slow motion by waiting on god thinking that he will provide. I was never lazy but now I see how I would have done things differently. The funny thing is…..If things did “happen” to work out and I was in the money, I would still believe and I would give god all the credit. And Christians who are reading this and who don’t really need to rely on god will say something like I didn’t use the common sense that god gave me. Or that god gives us freewill and we need to make the right choices. Sorry guys. The fact is, I truly relied on god and lost. Every time that I took a step of faith, I was humiliated.

So, after saving so many people in life (spiritually and financially) I would wonder when it would be my turn. I then stumbled on Exchristian.Net. I read about people who felt like I did. I felt so much better! But I just couldn’t stop believing in Jesus Christ. I just couldn’t do it. Plus….I’d burn in hell !!!

After about eight years of this wilderness experience, I got to the point where I would holler at god, asking "Why???? Why me? I don’t want to be broken any more! I don’t want led any more!" I would wish and pray that I would become dumb so I wouldn’t think the way I do and would know no better. I would wish that I could be more like other people and just be stupid and not realize anything. Not expect anything. Just accept anything. Just have a surface relationship with god. I couldn’t handle this deep stuff any more.

Day by day I was slowly coming to my senses. One of my last hopeless episodes was one where I said to god that I need to hear something or feel something right now. Anything! Your warmth. A hug. Your love. ANYTHING!!! I sat outside in the dark at 2 a.m. in the morning. I prayed in tongues for an hour. Tried my best to meditate and hear god. "Your word says to just knock! I have been knocking, pounding, ringing the door bell, and screaming." Finally, finally, finally, I said, "Enough of this. He ain’t there." Then all of a sudden it was like a born-again experience happened all over again. I can see! Things finally make sense. I feel as though the world fell from me. I am not afraid! I don’t worry about displeasing this guy in the sky who I thought loved me so much. He was supposed to be the ultimate father. Well I wouldn’t treat my kids a fraction as bad as he treated me. What a total waste of life! I have nothing now. If only I could have the 100k back that I gave that small church all those years. Now I see that I was only paying my preacher's salary. What pure bondage I was in. I am so happy that I am free! Half of my life is gone now. I am broke. But I will start fresh and this time I will really be free. I can make my own decisions to benefit me and my kids. I am not going to lie, cheat, and steal, but I don’t care if my decisions will please god. I’ll focus on myself for a change. Make myself happy instead of Mr. Make-Believe.

It is so amazing what a strong hold that it can have on you. And only when you finally let go of the fear and use your common sense, will you TRULY be free. It is unreal how much sense life makes now. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I believe that if I was an unintelligent person I would have been able to except that life and just continue. But when you can think on your own, you can see that the Christian life doesn’t work. I was rooted so deep that I fought it for a long time. Feels so good to finally be free.

Now my biggest problem is dealing with my little girls, ages 11 and 8. They both love god. I don’t want to hurt them and really confuse them now, but I also won’t stand to see them bang their head off the wall trying to please a god who will never be pleased. Maybe for some, Christianity will make you a better person. But I can see how it also can ruin lives. I will continue to work on it. Thank you for all the help -- before and in the future.