Categories: Testimonies
      Date: Oct 29, 2008
     Title: Mark Stowell
It seems like I’d been along this river a hundred times for the same reason

It seems like I’d been along this river a hundred times for the same reason—I was giving another group of students their solo time by the river, a time when they would be left alone with God, their Bible and journal to think, talk, pray, read, write and reflect.  I actually get some small, satisfaction in doing it, knowing that this quiet time—away from friends, noise, schedules and technology—is hard for many of them and downright awful for some.

With this smugness intact, I settled in wondering what I should do with my time.  I didn’t need this as much as they did. After all, I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years now. Sure I struggle and I’m positive I’m still a sinner and solitude with God is great but I don’t need it like them. I flip through my well-worn Bible, looking at notes I’ve made from a thousand of Pastor Ken’s sermons, youth group retreats, Promise Keepers’ outings, mission trips and devotion times. “I’m doing ok,” I thought to myself, “Just look at my Bible.”

Setting it aside, I pick up my journal. I’m a bit embarrassed at how long it’s been since I’ve made an entry. With the beauty of this river, the fall foliage and solitude, what better time to add another entry, so I write! My journaling is odd because my entries are usually written prayers.  But with the way my mind works, it’s usually easier to say them so I can keep up with my brain. But today the pen runs on and soon it’s exhilarating and then it’s hard and the conviction comes. I almost stop, but I trust God has something to say to this complacent sinner so I press on. Tears mingled with pain and humility as I wrote, realizing God’s sovereignty and how I had not been allowing it to work in my life. You’d think after 30 years—after  my rebellious teenage craziness and finding God at 20 years old while standing in a phone booth balling my eyes out,--that  I’d have gotten it by now. But here I was again, so utterly glad that God loved me because I was so hopeless without Him. I was amazed at His handiwork and how I could worship him in this chapel called creation, so completely thankful for my wife, two daughters, and now two grandsons and for friends, extended family and a church family. Why was I so blessed?

My hand hurt from writing and I knew a whole bunch of students thought I was taking this solo thing too far. So I thanked God for this 30 year journey, for all its twists and turns, for all its pain and frustration, and for all its incredible blessings and love way beyond what I deserved.  I thanked Him for the fellow soldiers who have come alongside me as we’ve fought this battle together, including many of you right here in this church.  I conclude that I will press on with His strength, comfort, wisdom and guiding hand.  I hope and pray you will to.

In His name and for His service,

Mark Stowell