Blessings From God
My name is Mark Myers. The following is a document that I am working on about some of the blessings that God has given to me. I have made it available on the Internet so that hopefully it might be able to encourage others to look at life's struggles from a different perspective. My hope is that this information will help others to seek God and come into a relationship with Jesus, God's son resulting in life changing reliance on God.
God is Great and His blessings are unlimited. The following are some of my life experiences where I am convinced that God was involved. Even though I was raised in a Christian home and we attended church nearly every Sunday, I did not come to a point of really trusting God until I was in high school. However I am getting ahead of myself. So let me start closer to the beginning.
When I was roughly 6 or 7 years old I heard part of a sermon at church that has stuck with me ever since. The essence of the sermon, as I remember it, was that of those who pray to God, most treat prayer as a one sided telephone call. They call up God (pray), then they present their requests or demands. Finally they hang up without ever giving God a chance to say anything. God has used this memory as the foundation for my accepting prayer as a two way conversation with God.
When I was roughly 12 or 13 years old we were living on a farm with a barn. The barn had a basement and a main floor. Roughly 12 to 15 feet above the main floor was a beam structure that would form the supporting structure for the second floor. Above that, maybe 15 to 20 feet, was a pulley track that spanned the roof from side to side. I think the pulley system was probably used to move hay from one side of the barn to the other side of the barn. On each side of the barn there was a platform attached to the barn wall maybe 2 feet wide and probably 30 plus feet above the floor. The platforms had probably been built to service the pulley system.
One day I decided to play with the pulley system. So I grabbed a rope and I proceeded to climb the barn wall up to one of the platforms. When I got up on the platform, I fed the rope through the pulleys. There were two outer pulleys that were fixed in place. The inner pulley was able to be lowered down to whatever was going to be moved. With the rope threaded through the pulley system I climbed down the wall. I started looking for something that I could hoist up and transport from one side of the barn to the other side of the barn. I found a bicycle that seemed like the perfect candidate.
I drug the pulleys over to the one side of the barn. Then I lowered the inner pulley down and looked for a way to attach the bicycle. The inner pulley had a couple of holes. I found a spike used for holding railroad ties that fit through the holes. I also found a clamp for holding weights on a barbell that I could attach to the end of the spike. I put the inner pulley on top of the bicycle frame so that the 2 holes were below the frame. I stuck the spike through the 2 holes to hold the bicycle to the inner pulley. I used the barbell clamp on the end of the spike to hold the spike in place. I raised up the bicycle until the inner pulley reached the other two pulleys.
Then I proceeded to drag the pulleys and bicycle across the barn. When I got about 1/3 of the way across the barn the inner pulley dropped maybe 15 feet or so and the bicycle fell to the floor. I was able to find the spike but I could not find the clamp. I asked God where the clamp was. The only thing that came to mind was the word “up”. Which made no sense, the inner pulley was up but the clamp had been attached to the spike not the pulley. I looked all over the floor and I would periodically ask God again where the clamp was. Each time I asked the only thing that came to mind was “up”. Which still made absolutely no sense. I could not find the clamp anywhere.
I thought maybe if I went inside and got something to eat and then came back out to look that surely I would be able to find the clamp. When I returned I still could not find the clamp so I asked God again where the clamp was. Again the only thing that came to mind was the word “up”. This still made no sense. There was a ladder that went up to the first level of beams near by. I thought maybe God means for me to climb the ladder up to the beam and look down. This made even less sense to me. How was climbing a ladder at least 12 feet above the ground going to help me find a black clamp that was less than 2 inches wide. However, my searching the floor certainly was not producing any positive results. So I climbed the ladder not expecting to see anything useful. When I got to the top of the ladder I saw the clamp on top of the beam beside the ladder.
The next thing that came to mind was that it was a good thing for me to pray and listen for God's response. However, it was a bad thing for me to never ask God what He meant by “up”. I had always been taught that God was much more knowledgeable that I am. This is what led me to ask God where the clamp was in the first place. So why was it that I thought that I had to figure out the meaning of God's answer on my own. After all the Bible tells us that we are not to lean on our own understanding and if we desire wisdom we should ask God.
During my sophomore year of high school my life was being threatened by some other students at school. One day I was in class with some of the students that had been threatening me, when the teacher was called down to the office. I knew that if I was lucky I might only get beaten badly. I uttered, mainly under my breath, something like “God help”. The next thing I knew, one of their friends showed up at the door saying “come on … lets go”. My would-be attackers left the room. This completely amazed me. I knew the prayer that I uttered, but could the events that had just occurred really have been impacted by God and that little prayer?
That same year I came to a point that I told God that even though I fully expect that He will fail me I was willing to fully trust him and commit my life to God up to the point where God proves to be untrustworthy. I already had plenty of examples from my life that showed me how useless it was to rely on my understanding of anything. I had been taught from when I was very young that God had created all that exists. And God had already demonstrated that through prayer, God is approachable, and that God cares, and that God is willing and able to respond to prayer.
From the point of my commitment to God my life started to change. Not my circumstances but how I viewed my circumstances. I started to see the good that was being formed through the crap that happened in life. Both in my own life and in the lives of the people around me. God taught me that the good that I was seeing being formed was being caused by Him. This is when I started asking God for more trials in my life. Certainly not because I enjoyed the struggle of the trial. However I very much enjoyed seeing God's personal intervention and involvement in the midst of the trials.
My parents started sending me to a Christian school my junior year of high school. I began to be exposed to the depths of the Bible. I had read the Bible more or less hit and miss even before I had really committed my life to God. I had been raised in a Christian home and in the church. Although I had heard Bible stories and I had heard sermons from the Bible, the Bible did not have much significance in my life. However, I was now being exposed to Bible history and Bible study. For the first time in my life I was exposed to people who knew the Bible well enough that they could quote verses and they could debate life issues from a biblical point of view.
Yet something was missing. When I read things in the New Testament about God's active involvement in and through the lives of believers like with the gifts of the Spirit like healing, prophecy and tongues. I began to ask the Bible teachers questions. Like, since the Bible says that the Gifts of the Spirit are available and active signs of those who believe why don't I see them in practice at school or at church? After continually pressing for an answer, because I really wanted to know, I was eventually told that it was because of tradition.
I was completely shocked. This Bible that I had been taught was the Inspired Word of God and that the Bible contained the answer to all of life's problems was only selectively being followed because of tradition. Yet instead of becoming disillusioned and potentially abandoning Christianity I would spend lots of time just talking to God about just about everything.
Over the next several years as I continued to repeatedly read the Bible from cover to cover in several translations and I continued to talk to God about what I read in the Bible. I discovered that yes the Bible does contain the answer to all of life's questions and problems. However, the answer was not exactly as it had been presented. For example consider the following.
When I was in college I had a friend that was living in a city about an hour away from where I was going to school. My friend and I had loosely planned to get together on a certain day when she was coming to the city where I was going to school. My friend was only passing through and would only be available for an hour or so. We had not done a very good job of planning. We both knew the date that my friend was coming. However, because of other circumstances the time could not be predetermined. However, I talked to God about the situation. Even though when I went out to start my car I did not really know where I was supposed to go. God directed me and I did meet up with my friend.
I did not know where to go or the right time to go so that I could meet up with my friend. Additionally there is no chapter and verse that I could turn to in the Bible and find the answer. However, when I took the same question to God in prayer and I trusted God. God directed me and I did meet up with my friend.
The Bible does talk continuously about trusting God and relying on God and the Bible has plenty of examples of the lives of those who did trust and rely on God and those who did not. I have come to the understanding that the Bible is not God, as some people treat it, but rather the Bible is a gift from God that points to God. I believe, just as the Bible says repeatedly through revealing parts of the lives of many people. That there is one God and only one God and God very much loves people and God actively desires to have an intimate relationship with people.
However, the Bible also makes it quite clear that God is in charge of everything and that God does not tolerate anything being elevated to the same level as God. I have always found it quite interesting that even though God says that His sheep know His voice. Which speaks of intimate and vulnerable trusting relationship with God. Yet when the Bible explicitly says what scripture is useful for, as in Timothy the list of uses does not mention growing more intimate in relationship with God. That intimacy seems to only come from spending one on one time with God. Vulnerably pouring out yourself, from where you are and not from where you want to be. Then waiting on God and trusting that God has not only heard you but that God is big enough to guide your life in spite of the strong potential, at least in my case, for my stubborn impatient self to really screw things up.
As my relationship with God was growing stronger I began to realize that when an issue presented itself I could talk to God about the issue. It did not matter whether the issue was big or small, good or bad, God was there to listen and respond. Over time I realized that the process of changing, molding, and shaping who I am in this life is God's responsibility. A responsibility that God is very involved in and God has the ability to achieve. My responsibility seems to be to trust God through the process. No matter where the process leads or how much struggle is involved in the process.
Unlike God who has no problem performing his responsibility, there is no way, by myself, that I could ever hope to be able to fulfill my responsibility to God. As a result I find myself often asking God to draw me closer to Him, to deepen my intimacy with Him, to strengthen my reliance on Him even unto unshakable reliance on Him, to continue to make me and keep me more humble before Him, and for God to do whatever it takes, even if it takes the proverbial 2x4 to my head, so that I am where God wants me to be. This wording may seem extreme however, my commitment to God was to trust Him and ever since the time of my commitment God has grown my trust through my daily life. The resulting relationship with God has value to me beyond measure.
While I was attending college and as I considered my future wife and how the Bible says that the husband is supposed to love his wife as God loved the church. I started considering how love is portrayed in music and movies and in the lives of people around me and how that compared to how the Bible defines love as in 1st Corinthians 13. I soon became very aware that my understanding of love was nowhere near what God says that love is in the Bible. It also soon dawned on me that the way God defines love is not only how I am to love my future wife it is also how that I was supposed to be loving God. I knew that there was no way that I could change me to be able love anywhere close to what God defines love as in the Bible. So throughout college I prayed often for God to teach me to love God as God defines love. Over time my relationship with God grew stronger and deeper. I also found that because I was becoming more secure in my relationship with God that it became much easier to be vulnerable and go deep with people.
Around the time that I was roughly 12 years old I started having intermittent physical problems. Initially there were times where one of my feet would turn in as I would walk. There were some times that I could walk several miles before this happened. Other times I could not walk 50 yards without having problems. When the problem occurred I would have to get off of my feet for a few minutes and then I could continue walking. I loved to walk and run so my physical problems were a nuisance. Over the next several years my symptoms changed a little but remained mainly a nuisance. From my childhood I had been convinced that somehow my intermittent physical symptoms were my fault. I was always trying to alter how I walked and my posture in an effort to overcome the nuisance. I had also prayed to be healed often and I had others pray for my healing on many occasions.
After college I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. Several months after I moved my physical symptoms began to worsen such that often while standing I would without warning be thrust backward. Now my symptoms had become more than just a nuisance. Being thrust backward without warning was dangerous to myself and others. If I was standing in a line and I was all of a sudden thrust backward into the person behind me, what would their reaction be? Although I have fallen into many things, many of which did not survive me, yet God saw to it that even though I was often humiliated I was never seriously physically hurt.
With the change in my symptoms I figured that I needed a break from any more new trials. So I decided that it might be a good time to stop praying for trials. Instead I started asking God for unshakable reliance on Him and life changing intimacy with Him. Through the next several years God taught me a lot about trust and perseverance and that God would be with me no matter what happened.
Within the next few years God provided me with a great gift in my wife Kathryn. I had never cared much about the content of a wedding ceremony so long as God was glorified. I had two friends that had recently learned to trust God through prayer, praying throughout the whole ceremony that I would not be thrust back during the wedding ceremony. God saw to it that I was able to stand throughout the whole ceremony without any problems.
I had thought before marriage that I was mostly ready for marriage. However, I was presented with a very rude awakening, after being married as my pride would rise up looking to protect and promote my will. I cried out to God to change me so that I could learn love my wife as God defines love. Through the struggles (trials) of marriage and of life God has grown Kathryn and I much closer. God also has blessed us with two great kids, Steven and Sarah. Even before each of my children were born I was praying for God to raise them up to be after His heart and that my children would grow up being friends. It has been awesome to watch God answer the prayers that I have made for my children and my family.
God has blessed me with great analytical and technical skills. Since I have been in Knoxville I have taught at a business school. Where the classes were small enough that I would have several classes simultaneously. I did almost no lecturing. Instead I was able to work one on one with each student going from spreadsheets to word processing to Basic programing instantly. The business school went out of business around 1990. I have also worked as a computer programmer and systems analyst. At one time I knew at least 15 computer programming languages. In my jobs I have built PCs, repaired PCs and IBM mini computers. I have setup and administered local and remote networks. I have also managed a group of programmers and consultants. My favorite function was when I got the opportunity to troubleshoot a situation or technology. I would first learn what was suppose to be happening and then I would figure out how to make it happen. Although I have a degree in computer programming and in management. My education did not really prepare me for what I have done in my jobs. When I would be presented with a task that I had no idea how to do. I would go to God and start asking for help and what to do next and God would guide me through the task.
As my skills increased so did my responsibility. The down side was as my responsibility increased my employer would seem to want to own me with 24/7 pagers and making me always on call. I tried several side job efforts as an independent consultant. The work was fun but I learned quickly that I am very technical but I am not a marketing person. Additionally my physical symptoms were hindering me. I wanted to find something that I could do that was less demanding on my time. I wanted something that I could start as a side job that would eventually allow me to free up time in my day job so there would be more family time.
So in 2000 I got into the real estate rental business as a side endeavor. I had been interested in rental real estate since I was a senior in high school. I had heard often about getting rich in real estate over the years. However, riches was not my motivation. I saw an opportunity to provide good housing for the tenants and I expected over time to be able to replace my full time salary with income from a less demanding source. By the end of 2003 I had 17 rental houses. Each house was purchased as a major rehab project and through the use of outsourced labor each house was transformed into a quality home for the tenants. Each of the houses was profitably rented although because of the mortgages there was not enough income for me to leave my day job. The funds from the business allowed me to outsource most of the maintenance but I did most of the leasing and rent collection because the rent was required to pay the mortgages. From 2000 through 2004 the business was still a part time side business, even with 17 rental houses. By 2004 the rental business had already allowed me to reduce my hours in my day job.
In order to make the business more profitable I needed a way to be able to pay off the mortgages. I believed that if I could reduce my mortgage expenses, I could continue to reduce hours in my day job and I would have more family time. In 2004 I talked to my dad and my brother about jointly starting a second business to do rehabs for resale. From the point that the business was started I found myself praying that God would not allow any of us to rely on the business more than on God. I knew the potential business income could easily become an idol. However, I would rather that the businesses be taken away if they were going to hinder any of our spiritual growth.
Within the first 7 months of the second business we had 9 rehab projects underway. The various outsourced labor that I had used to rehab the rental houses were always able to complete the rehab in 30 days or less so that I could have a paying tenant before my first mortgage payment was due. As a buffer I budgeted for each of the rehabs to take 90 days or less in the second business. However, the crews that were used for the rehabs in the second business could not seem to finish even one house.
My dad, brother, and I did not have enough construction experience to realize that the rehab work was being done wrong. We had trusted that construction people know the correct way to do construction. We had even checked references on many of the individuals and crews. However, because the contractors did the work wrong we would have the additional expense of paying to tear out the new construction that we paid for. Additionally we would have to pay for the construction to be done again correctly. This happened several times and absolutely blew the budget. I had cosigned for the construction loans of the second business just as I had in the first business.
I started taking funds from my first business to try to be able to complete houses, of the second business, so that the houses could be sold and the loans could be paid off. By the end of 2005 we had sold one unfinished rehab just to clear the loan and we had bought 2 adjacent houses that we could immediately rent so that the second business would have an income to be able to complete the remaining houses. We eventually got 3 houses completed but they did not sell so we rented them.
Because of the construction do overs and the loan payments we made for nearly 2 years, when only 3 months of loan payments per house were budgeted, our rehab pool of funds was completely exhausted. I tried for roughly a year to get a new construction loans for 4 of the houses without success. The bank that had financed the 9 rehabs for the second business eventually foreclosed on the 4 unfinished rehabs. Throughout the problems with the second business the stress greatly impacted my wife and I especially since I was financially responsible as a cosigner, yet God was still working in our midst.
I decided to try to sell my rental houses to try to raise funds to salvage the second business. I talked to a Realtor and I signed the sales contracts. Within a week or so from the time that the for sale signs went in the yards of the the rental houses I was given a 30 day move out notice by over half of my tenants. The mass move outs was completely unexpected. With all of my rental business reserves spent trying to salvage the second business I was very cash poor. Because of the move outs, there was not enough rental income to pay the mortgages. I chose to use the income that I had to get the newly vacant houses ready to rent again. I wound up missing 2 mortgage payments on most of the 17 rentals. Additionally since I was cash poor I could not outsource the clean up of the vacant houses so they could be rented again. My part time side job was instantly demanding a lot of time and because I was cash poor I had to do nearly everything myself.
I explained the situation to the mortgage companies and I tried to get them to work with me so that I could get caught back up. I had a couple of mortgage companies that were willing to work with me but the rest were unwilling and so because I was less than $700 behind per house on the mortgages, they foreclosed. The actions that the mortgage companies took still does not make logical sense to me. Prior to the year in which I had around 15 foreclosures I had 19 years of perfect credit in that I had never been 30 days late on any payment to anyone.
The actions that the mortgage companies took cost them a lot of money and caused me to lose a significant amount of equity. The stress on myself and my family was great but God was still working in our midst. After the foreclosures started I looked into bankruptcy and found an article that explained that the bankruptcy laws came from the year of Jubilee in the Bible and that they allow for a fresh start. I filed for bankruptcy which took all but one of the rentals that remained but we were able to keep our house.
The mortgage companies chose to sell the houses for less than 50% of my appraised values which was significantly less than I owed. On the positive side this meant that several families were able to purchase cheap quality housing. As a result of going through the stress of losing two businesses, the foreclosures and the bankruptcy, because of God, the relationship between my wife and I is stronger and our reliance on God is much stronger. During the same time period my physical symptoms continued to get worse.
Even though I had seen doctors since roughly age 12 trying to figure out and correct my intermittent physical symptoms. They always concluded that the problem was neurological but no one knew what the cause was. The doctors tried many different medications that most of time I was told would eliminate my symptoms. Over the years I was told about other remedies that worked for others and therefore would work for me.
My problems were always intermittent. So I approached each solution with tremendous hope only to be devastated emotionally when nothing helped. In fact some treatments not only did not help some even had adverse effects. Also over the years I tried to physically overpower my symptoms with very limited success. My emotional state boiled down to, if these solutions were working for others why were they not working for me? What was wrong with me? What was I doing wrong?
I was probably in my mid to late 30s before I came across a medical professional that said that he did not have an answer as to the cause of my symptoms but he was willing to work with me to try to come up with a solution. Eventually I was tried on a medication that nearly instantly wiped out almost 100% of my symptoms. This was so freeing in that it completely proved that there was no way that I could physically overcome my symptoms but more importantly being a neurological problem there was no way that the problems were my fault. What an awesome relief.
As the disease progressed and the medicine would lose some of its effectiveness, my doctor increased my dosage. However, my body did not tolerate the higher dosage of the medicine that worked so well. I was tried on different medications each with benefits and side effects. I eventually had genetic testing done which confirmed that I have Early Onset Parkinson's Disease. As the newer medicines would lose their effectiveness the dosage would be increased. Unfortunately the increased dosage also increased the side effects. I got to a point where although the medicine was helping some, the side effects were bad enough to cause me be placed on disability from my day job in 2005.
Also in 2005 I had deep brain stimulation surgery to try to reduce my symptoms. The surgery is actually 3 different surgeries. The main one being brain surgery that I had to remain awake and responsive throughout the surgery. The surgery has helped some, but it was no where near as successful as we had hoped. Probably because my disease is rapidly getting worse. I know the disease is getting worse because before the surgery I had to go completely off my medication and my body, especially my face, would contort but at least I could some what move around. However, roughly a year and a half after my surgery I managed, by mistake, to turn off my implant and I was not able to even move enough to be able to turn my implant back on. That was very scary.
If I was given the ability to live my life over without the Parkinson's disease I think that I would have to pass. Even though the Parkinson disease has added significant challenges to my life. However God has used those same challenges to actively grow me into a deepening personal relationship with Him. I still believe that God heals and I am still believing that one day I will be healed. However, I have also come to realize that God is in the business of character building as we are conformed to the image of Christ. Even though life is a struggle I am learning to be content with God being in charge of me. I do not know what the future holds, but as I learn to trust God and rely on God more I am convinced that the future will be amazing.
I have learned this through life thus far. The God of the Bible aggressively and actively loves people. God loves people so much that He was willing to let puny man kill His son on a cross and then God raised His son back to life. So that whosoever would believe on God's son Jesus would have their sins forgiven and they would be given the gift of eternal life. They would also be adopted by God into God's family. A place where God accepts you as you are, however, God does not leave you as you are or where you are. God starts growing character in his children. This character is often referred to as the fruits of the Spirit.
In other words the God that is so big and powerful that He created all that exists, for some reason is so interested in the lives of human beings that He has come down to our level. To interact with us and to offer us a life that regardless of the circumstances will be rewarding and fulfilling. A truly abundant life. The only catch is that since God is in charge the acceptance must be on God's terms.
So if you have problems or struggles or even if you don't. Take the time to get one on one with God. Start with simply asking God to teach you to know Him. Your life will never be the same.
Have A Great Day!!!
Watch a short video that symbolically presents life with and without Jesus.
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