Twenty seven years ago today my life was changed forever. At 35 years old, and just six weeks from my 36th birthday, I married Lisa Burrell. To have and to hold.
Neither of us had been married before so this was brand new territory for us both.
The difference was that Lisa had Jesus on her side. I didn’t… yet. She had an eternal mindset. I was just jumping in the pool not knowing how cold the water would be.
Lisa had an amazing journey with God that started just 18 months earlier with an abrupt move from the suburbs of Chicago to the shores of Long Beach, CA.
She knew she was delivered and she knew God had a plan for her new life. It was apparent to Lisa that I would be a part of that plan shortly after I walked into The Reef.
Lisa just started working there a few weeks before and God provided her a hot meal everyday. He was showing her the He was her provider.
I was looking for a set to film an episode of China Beach and had no clue that my life would be changed the moment I saw her.
Three months after our wedding day we decided to move away from Los Angeles and after listing several cities we felt we could live in we settled in Charlotte, NC.
Less than a year later we were on the brink of disaster. Lisa was working and I was floundering. She had a support network with the friends she made at work. I was drifting through odd jobs including selling produce, Christmas trees and bar tending.
Lisa was praying for me every day while I was drinking. I was falling deeper into my demise which manifested into depression and self pity.
We were going to a small church with a handful of charismatics and with Lisa’s prompting, the men invited me to a men’s retreat. I reluctantly agreed.
Looking back it now makes sense why Pastor Geoff wanted to play tennis so much. Lisa was calling him asking him to reach out to me.
Neither one of us knew at the time, but Lisa’s prayers and her diligence in witnessing to me, God was setting me up.
The night before the retreat I was bar tending in a local pub. Lisa was back in California for a conference.
It was February 19, 1993. It was 17 degrees that night and God decided it was time to get my attention.
Most nights I would have kept my coat with all of my personal belongings behind the bar. This night I hung them just inside the back door.
At closing time I could not find my coat since someone took it home with them. It was 2:30 AM and the locksmith told me they could come now for $200 or come in the morning for $40. Even in my inebriated mind that decision was an easy one.
I called my drinking buddy Joe to stay with him. My keys were gone so I couldn’t get into my house. Joe said “Come on” so I walked a couple of blocks to the produce store he lived in.
Joe had a cot and a sleeping bag he used. Nothing more. I settled on the concrete floor in the 17 degree temperatures with no coat, no keys, and no identity since my drivers license was gone too.
God spoke to me at that moment letting me know that He gave me everything. My car. My comfort. My identity. My wife and my life. And He could take it ALL away in an instant.
I went to the retreat later that day. Hung over and humbled.
I have no idea what Peter Lord said in the opening session but I found myself surrendering my life to Christ. From that moment my life has never been the same.
God freed me from myself that day. Freed from drinking and depression. And with Lisa’s help, He saved me.
Now 27 years later I realize that I not only got married but I was given a wife who literally saved my life.
Thank you Jesus and thank you Lisa.