Michael Delgado couldn’t imagine that he would one day be thankful for the time he spent in prison. Andy Marsh couldn’t believe that the day he confessed his infidelity to his wife would be the beginning of healing in their marriage. But today Michael, Andy, Carl Long and Lindsay Silberstein all thank God for their moments of pain, loss and struggle. Here’s how the Lord used those moments to move them toward greater faithfulness and love for Him.
“From age 18 to 23, I was arrested a dozen times for every-
thing from public intoxication to a violent crime. I lied, manipulated, drank, did drugs daily and tried just about anything I thought would satisfy me.
“God used a serious drunk driving accident to draw me to Himself. After I recovered, a friend invited me to Watermark and The Porch. I learned that Christ died for me on the cross, and He loved me. That was hard for me to understand at first. But through prayer and reading God’s Word, I discovered that Christ wanted a relationship with me. That was the first time I felt loved.
“Although my new life with Christ had begun, I was still in trouble for what I had done when I was living for this world. When I was sentenced to a year in prison, I told the judge I was willing to go wherever the Lord wanted me.
“A relationship with the Lord was the only way to get through prison. God drew me closer as I read my Bible daily. I met with other prisoners each morning to share something from God’s Word. Some guys believed the would go to hell for what they’d done. I explained that they could be forgiven through God’s free gift of grace in Christ.
“When I tell people about my incarceration, which ended
in January of 2014, I don’t feel guilt and shame. God used me in a mighty way in jail. I want people to know I have hope, and all of this has, ‘turned out for my deliverance.’” (Philippians 1:18-19)
“I’m grateful that what I thought would be my worst moment ended up being the beginning of the best year of my life. As my wife, Jenny, and I were driving home from a marriage conference at Watermark, I decided to confess that I had strayed from our marriage. The thought of opening up to her made me want to pass out. I’d never been fully known before, and I was afraid.
“Obviously the news of my infidelity hit Jenny hard. But God used the foundation He built in our lives to move us toward one another rather than away from our marriage. I began to pursue Christ because Jenny was such a great example of how the Lord loves me. I can’t imagine loving her more. I now trust that God will use our marriage for His purposes. It’s a privilege to tell other couples that because of Christ, our struggles did not break us.”
“My wife, Grace, and I were in the process of adopting a baby several years ago. But after the baby was born, the birthmother changed her mind. It was a very sad time for our family.
“If the adoption hadn’t forced me to confront my selfishness and lack of trust in God, I’m sure something else would have. But since then, I have studied the Bible with friends and seen how every story points to Christ. Our two sons and I talk about what the Bible says about how we treat others. As we memorize God’s Word, I see a change in them and me.
“Today when I am tempted, my way of escape is turning to God’s Word. I fail at times, but now it is so much easier
to ask for forgiveness. Every day I try to live like my heart has completely changed, because in Christ, it really has.”
“Despite my comfort with working in the labor and delivery unit at a local hospital, I was nervous about serving at Watermark’s QuestCare Clinic, which offers free medical care and health education to people in need. I’d never talked to a stranger about my faith and worried I didn’t know enough Scripture to be effective at pastoral care.
“My first clinic patient was a woman who, in addition to her medical needs, questioned whether God had a plan for her life in light of her circumstances and bad choices. It seemed impossible to her that God could restore her broken spirit.
“In an instant, I knew we had some common ground. I felt the same way following a season of disbelief. I wondered if God would really redeem my story, restore my brokenness and repair my relationships with others.
“I shared a verse I was learning at the time – Revelation 21:5, which says that God is, ‘making all things new.’ I explained that God had a plan for her life, and His grace was big enough to overcome her troubles.
“Since then God has taught me that following Him is not about feeling safe and comfortable. It’s about stepping out and serving. Some spiritual conversations have been great and others haven’t been. But each conversation has led people to think about the Lord. I’m thankful for that.”