J.R. Gregory

I grew up in an Irish Catholic family. Every Sunday I would attend Mass, mostly because my Mom made me. As a young boy, the rites, tradition, symbols and structure surrounding the religion were very confusing to me. I often wondered why the biblical readings were not read directly from the Bible and why a Pope was needed to intercede to God on my behalf, yet alone representing the figurehead of authority. Nonetheless, I was content to be the good Catholic boy thinking that as long as I confessed my sins, served my penance and received Communion, all was well getting into Heaven.

As a young man, I began to realize there was more to living and questioned the direction my life was headed. I always felt God’s presence in my life, but something was missing. I knew I needed more of God to direct my path. I started reading the Bible, but needed something more than what the church could offer. I struggled with commitment and wondered further away foregoing attending church altogether. Then something happened…

God got my attention when I was involved in a car wreck 26 years ago. I had fallen asleep behind the wheel and slammed into the back of a truck. My pickup cab was completely imbedded underneath the vehicle I hit. It was a miracle I survived with only minor injuries, sustaining no internal damage whatsoever. During my stay in the hospital, I received visits from family and friends commenting, “God has a plan for you.” He had my attention now and I began to search for that plan.

Two years later, the Lord drew me to Ronda, who would eventually become my wife. She was different from many of the people I knew and believed she could help me find answers to the many questions still stirring in my head. Soon after, she invited me to attend Wedgwood Baptist Church where upon I gave my life to Jesus after consulting with Brother Al. I surmised God was pleased with my decision after seeing a beautiful rainbow arc the sky. I took that as a sign of great things the Lord was to do in my life.

I found what I was looking for; the questions were finally answered. I found that relationship with the Father that had eluded me all my life. I’m reassured in knowing the purpose of my life is far greater than my own expectations, but rather to have a personal, loving relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. I received a second chance at life. I am grateful for all the relationships I have established but none more important than His. I am truly blessed.

Committing to God is no longer an issue for me. My purpose in life is to do what is pleasing to God. To love God and to be loved by Him is what I desire most. I am reminded of how important that is in Matthew 22:37-38, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

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