This week, we’re hearing stories of redemption rooted in the chosenness of God. Mike Barr’s story is a strong example of just how far God will go to prove his love for us. Mike is part of the Mosaic community and serves as chaplain of Augusta Rescue Mission.
As a man, the book of Esther fascinates me. The Father’s plan to find a bride for His Son is brilliantly unfolded for all us to see. In her story, King Xerxes’ only desire is to display his bride’s beauty before his entire kingdom.
Esther, being of poor descent and of an unlikely heritage, had no idea how much her life was about to change. She was completely unaware that a “no one” like herself would ever find her way to becoming the bride of the king.
But the king knew what he was doing. His search for his bride was diligent. His search for his bride was perfect.
And once Esther was chosen, the king’s very best attendant led her by the hand through a “Process of Beautification.” No expense was spared and the process wasn’t rushed. However, the end result was nothing short of stunning to the king.
It sometimes seems strange to me just how much I understand this story. But the revelation of what it truly means to be the Bride of Christ is in my heart. I live out the beauty of His plan every day.
However, looking back, it wasn’t always this way.
I wasn’t raised in church or with any type of belief in God. As a matter of fact, I spent most of my youth and adulthood in a very destructive lifestyle due to alcohol and drugs.
I have two very loving parents who are still in my life today. But alcohol was always a part of my formative years and watching everyone drink was a normal part of life.
So, as I started to grow up, a willingness to explore new things just seemed natural. I guess you could say high school was just…high school. Once I started down that road of addiction, everything was on the menu. Cocaine, meth, pills, LSD, even steroids were all for the taking.
After graduating from school, I very quickly found myself in a career and the money just seemed to come in. Life was really good. Or so I thought.
Through all of my dysfunction though, I was a very disciplined business man. I was good at what I did.
Which of course, didn’t actually help me. Money just fed my party lifestyle. Work hard, play hard, those were the rules. Vacations, clothes, cars…all it came so easy.
But brokenness was continually increasing inside of me. The more broken I felt, the more I tried to hide it. The more pain I was in, the more substances I took to mask it. A crazy snowball effect was happening and I had no idea how to stop it. Addiction was beginning to rule my life and at some point, it began to make all my decisions for me.
By now, I was married with two young children and I had no idea how to stop it. If I came clean to my wife and employer, I could lose everything. If I stayed on my path of destruction, I could still lose everything.
But addiction doesn’t care. Addiction doesn’t stop.
Eventually, my whole world came crashing down. And at the age of 39, it was either get sober or die. No other options.
It was at that moment that my heart finally cried out to God: “Please, if you’re real, save me and I’ll do whatever you want.”
What came next was far more surprising to me than I ever could have imagined. Almost immediately, His Presence (which was something I had no idea even existed) was inside of me guiding every step of my life. Several months later, a life-changing deliverance moment took place in my living room, leaving me no doubt it was truly Jesus who saved me. I began to see the hand of God restore my broken marriage piece by piece and from almost the first day I gave my heart to the Lord, I knew I was called to preach.
Since then, I’ve become a credentialed Reverend with the Assemblies of God and I serve as the Chaplain of Augusta Rescue Mission.
Eleven years later, I can say without hesitation that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and the only Savior of the world.
And like Esther, I’m a person who never could have dreamed of going from orphan to bride living. But that’s what God does…He makes all things beautiful.