Pat is a member of New Life Church
It makes no sense, humanly speaking, that I should be so blessed. My “normal American middle-class” childhood and youth ended in 7th grade when my family was transferred overseas for my dad’s work. From that time I was socially isolated and completely adrift in a world I did not understand. Racism, assassinations, civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate, the drug culture, the revelation that both my parents worked for an intelligence agency, a failed marriage, a failed career trajectory—my life had become a testimony to the idea that it’s not possible to parent yourself. Born and raised Roman Catholic, in a sense my life always belonged to Jesus, but by the age of 40 I had reached the uttermost end of works righteousness. I was a mess.
God saved me that year, 1988, in a little Reformed Baptist Church in North Philadelphia. I spent those first exciting years as a new Christian in a poor neighborhood totally enmeshed in the crack cocaine and prostitution culture. I saw miracles as God protected me, saw both the heroic and the gritty side of urban missions, and experienced the Eustace pain (ref. the Chronicles of Narnia) of God gradually removing 40 years’ growth of dragon skin. It was also painful to discover that God did not mean this particular church to be my forever home. Over the years he moved me on to a number of different local churches, and finally in 2013 he brought me to New Life Dresher.
How patiently does God work? It wasn’t until 1995 (more or less) that I took Paul Miller’s “The Love Course”, which taught me how to die to myself in order to live for Christ. I was still processing those lessons in 2014, when Living for the King brought me face-to-face with a grace-filled way to live all of life. I was 65 years old when I took that course! And I still feel like I’m only in spiritual high school, unlearning works righteousness, overcoming my stunted social intelligence, learning how to live for God instead of myself.
And despite all this, God has blessed me with a wonderful church, with friends, with volunteer opportunities, and with continuing chances to grow and mature in my relationships with Him and with other people. It makes no sense that I should be so blessed. It’s all grace abounding to a great big sinner.