How I Went to Prison

I was going to be a megachurch pastor, complete with a radio show, book deals, and frequent appearances on the conference speaking circuit.

This wasn’t just a pipe dream, either. I was well on my way. I had already been published in various theological journals, had been invited to speak in several conferences and churches around the country, and had landed a job at a non-profit organization in Dallas where I planned conferences around the country, and worked as the project coordinator for all of the president’s publications.

When I began to search for a megachurch to pastor, I took my resume to the placement office at a leading seminary in Dallas, and he told me that with a resume like mine, I could go anywhere I wanted. I could write my own ticket.

Two months later I was jobless, nearly homeless, and the only job I could find was cleaning carpets for $8 an hour.

What happened? God wrecked my life. Or maybe I should say, God wrecked my plans for my life.

But looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here is how it happened: I was reading and studying some things that challenged my theology and my beliefs. I was reading books that challenged seven-day creationism, the literalness of Old Testament prophecy, the existence of hell, and a few other similar issues.

The president of the non-profit organization found out what I was reading, branded me as a heretic, and terminated my employment.

I was fired for reading some books. I am not making this up. I even have a termination letter which I asked him to write so that I could show any megachurch that might still want to hire me why I had been fired.

It says that I was not terminated for any misconduct on my part, but that he was uncomfortable with an employee reading and studying issues which might cause damage to the non-profit organization if I were ever to end up believing any of them.

But the letter made no difference. Nobody wanted to touch someone who had been branded as a heretic. All my friends abandoned me as well. Nobody believed my side of the story, that all I had been doing was studying some “touchy” subjects.

Over a period of two months, I applied for well over 100 jobs. Finally, I got desperate and started applying for management jobs at McDonald’s. Even they wouldn’t hire me. They told me I was “overqualified.”

After several months of unemployment, I finally got hired at a carpet cleaning company for $8 an hour. The upside was that I could work 10-12 hours per day, six days a week. The downside was that I was working 10-12 hours per day, six days a week.

But I was now deep in debt, could barely pay my bills, and had begun to fall into deep depression.

Carpet cleaning lasted about 6 months. My body couldn’t handle the long hours of manual labor (carpet cleaning is tough!), and I had to have multiple surgeries.

I began to look for another job, and finally landed a job as a prison chaplain. The hours are much better and so is the pay. Best of all, I can actually use some of my training and education to disciple and teach others. I have been in this job now for four years.

Some days, I still feel like my life was wrecked, but in numerous instances every day, I am in awe at the beauty God is pulling from the ashes of my life.

I believe I have more compassion for others, more understanding for those who have been burned by the church, more love for those who have messed up, more patience with those who are different.

I don’t really know where I am going, or what my life will look like five or ten years from now. But it no longer really matters. God wrecked my life, but He wrecked it with a purpose, and I am excited to see what that purpose might be.

About the Author: Jeremy Myers is a prison chaplain in Oregon, where he lives with his wife and three girls. He writes about Scripture and Theology on his blog, TillHeComes.org, and gives away 3-4 free ebooks each year to newsletter subscribers.

About the Author

Guest

This is a post by a guest author. To submit your own story of how you got wrecked, click here.

Comments

  1. That is such a good story. I love it when life presents us with obstacles which actually turn out to be wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks Kama. Life is so full of obstacles, I sometimes feel like I’m completely surrounded and not even moving forward!

  2. Jeremy! I follow your blog and never knew this was your life story. (I just re-visited your About page and followed the link to Jason Boyett’s blog.)

    It’s different reading this as a story a stranger tells, and reading it as someone with a few parallels in my own story. The experience has given me a better sense of the extremely high cost of wisdom, compassion and submission to God’s will. The price is worth it, no doubt about it. Three years into this new life, and I also still have days when I feel like my life was wrecked and I don’t know what the future holds. But I awake each day in awe that He would choose insignificant me to show His infinite power and wisdom.

    • Thanks for following my blog. You are absolutely right that the price is worth it. I am glad that you are experiencing the same thing… I think there are many in our tribe. This is one reason Jeff’s book should have such a great impact on so many people.

  3. Wow. Powerful story. I also had God wreck my plans for my life. Sometimes I think he has to get us to the point of weakness where we need to learn to trust Him and depend on His strength to get our full attention. Powerful story!

    • Weakness, yes! We are often so self-confident, that He has to break us down before He can begin to use us.

  4. You made a few nice points there. I did a search on the matter and found a good number of persons will have the same opinion with your blog.

  5. Keep functioning ,remarkable job!

  6. Good choice Ronald. I do believe the default WordPress comments method is the top with modifications using CSS for styling as well as a couple of plugins for extra functionality.

  7. W dechę stronka, byczo by było zaznajomić autora. Mam nadzieję, ze poziom będzie taki cały czas. Będę tu wpadać częściej!

  8. Hello there. Basically share. I am a total newbie.

  9. Good choice Ronald. I do think the default WordPress comments product is the very best with modifications using CSS for styling as well as a handful of plugins for further functionality.

  10. I think the purpose of your wreck was to place the knowledge in you of how to help your current congregation and especially those of us that have lost hope. You came back from having no hope and being in a hopeless situation , to hoping a lot of people. Thank you for the inspiration. Be blessed!!!!!!

  11. Thanky Thanky for all this good inmforation!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Oh, and by the way, Jeff posted part of my own “Wrecked” story on his website. If you want to read it for yourself, it is here: How I Went to Prison. […]

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