How Christ Came To Me: And How I Ended Up In The Back Of A Cop Car (Part 2)

{This is Part 2 of my testimony. To read Part 1 go here}

I never saw him coming.

I turned around and there he was: short, smug, and red-headed, with an obvious chip on his shoulder (I probably would have one too if I had to patrol daily Spring Break shenanigans). After a couple quick questions it was clear I was not 21 and I ended up in the back of his cop car as he called my mom on the phone.

Underage possession and consumption of alcohol was the charge.

My dad was disappointed. My mom was broken. I had told her I was just spending the night at a church friend’s house. In those days, PC Beach had Spring break court, so I was herded into a large room with other maladjusted teens and young adults and given a blanket judgment by a sitting judge. A few hours of community service at the Boys Club. Not too bad.

I promised my parents I would never drink underage or lie to them again.

As a Dog Returns To His Vomit

But within a month I was back out at the beach. With some of the same church friends. All my passionate pleas and promises to my parents came up empty. As Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing…” (John 6:63)

I carried on that same trajectory until the summer. I was signed up for a Mission trip to Mexico and was a student leader to a Student Life Camp. It was too late to back out of those. The Guadalajara trip opened my eyes to what an authentic life in Christ looked like, not just the American Cultural Christianity I was immersed in. The Mexican Christians we served with had nothing of earthly value, but because they had Christ they had everything, even joy inexpressible.

A couple weeks later I was at a Student Life Camp at Lee University in Tennessee. At one evening service during corporate worship it happened suddenly. Before I knew what hit me I was a heap on the ground, in a pool of my own snot and tears asking God not to kill me.

I never saw Him coming.

The Puritans used to call it “the gift of holy tears.” If there is such a thing, I had it that night. All I know is that the ugliness of my hypocrisy and sin crashed against the holiness and beauty of the cross of Christ. And it broke me to pieces like a jack hammer to cheap concrete.

I had always felt a little grieved during my Sunday morning hangover episodes. But now I felt gripped.

Finally, I saw with a Spirit born clarity, Christ died for me.

My senior year in high school I was elected Fellowship of Christian Athlete President (probably not the best position for a baby Christian). Jamie, my youth minister, began to give me opportunities to help lead studies and services in the youth group. I devoured every bible study, sermon, devotion, and Christian book I could get my hands on. I was game for every mission trip or service opportunity put in front of me.

As my passion for Christ rose, my passion for football waned. I once moved high schools to get a better shot at a FB scholarship (and to be honest, tick off my old coach). Now, with a few small college offers on the table, I respectfully declined to continue my football career. I was getting burnt out.

As A Woman Returns To Her Dog Sitter

In the process of going to the local community college I met a cute little red-headed girl named Jessica. She wore her passion for Jesus on her sleeve like it was going out of style. A few months into our friendship I was convinced she was to be my wife. It took a few more months to convince her of that.  But after faithfully dog sitting her feisty miniature Schnauzer, Roxanne, she couldn’t resist the charm anymore. ; )

Jessica and I married in the Spring of ’06. We had our first child, Josiah, in May 2008. We had our second child, Gideon, in March 2011. They are two beautiful healthy boys we don’t deserve.

In a short time, God has made life go full circle for me.

I now find myself back with football (coaching), and back at the same high school I once walked the halls as an unmotivated student. Everyday I teach math to young men who are just like I was: Insecure, Confused, putting up a hard facade. Though the behavior may manifest itself differently depending on the case, the root issue is the same: Like me, they need a Savior to take away their sins and the Holy Spirit to empower them put to death their own flesh.

So that is how Christ came to me, and how I ended up in the back of a cop car. And despite my current propensity to wander away, He still comes to me, still grips, and still fulfills the promises I could never keep.

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful-He cannot deny Himself…..” (2 tim 2:13)

Bryan Daniels

How Christ Came To Me: And How I Ended Up In The Back Of A Cop Car (Part 1)

I grew up in church.

By all accounts I was a respectful church kid from a good family. I had a praying mama that ensured my sister and I never missed Sunday morning church. Growing up in church culture I was offered numerous gospel presentations at a very early age. I clearly remember praying a sinner’s prayer after many different services. I remember even more clearly being anguished later on that the prayer never seemed to quite stick for me. Though I was assured of its effectiveness, I had always had some nagging reservations about my eternal state.

By the time I was in middle school I assumed it stuck, and I found other things to anguish over like football, girls, and being “hard.” Those middle school years were some of the roughest. I hit an early growth spurt and by the time I was in seventh grade I was at my current adult height (6’2″). I had sideburns and chest hair in eighth grade. I was a freak (or at least felt like one) and I chose to use my formidable size to intimidate others. Because of my mom, I still went to church but I sat in the back and was a virtual mute, unaffected and too insecure to break out of my social shell.

I was pretty sure everyone hated me, but not as much as I hated myself.

By the time I got into high school, the football gig was working out pretty well for me. I found a nice outlet for my size and rage, and got plenty of praise for it to boot.  Before my ninth grade year I decided the tough guy schtick was wearing thin so I opted for trying the nice guy routine. This was a delightful surprise for many of my former middle school peers.

Things were looking up on the church front too. At least as far as I could tell.

Around this time our church welcomed a new youth pastor to the staff with a wicked sense of humor and hairiest back you have ever seen. Jamie Strange remains to this day for me as an encouraging friend, wise counselor, and just flat-out one of my favorite people in the world. He was a great leader during my formative spiritual years.

In high school I found my niche with football and friends. By the end of my ninth grade year, I got drunk for the first time. This became an almost semi weekly occurrence until the end of my junior year. All the while, because of an excellent “nice church boy” act, I was being propped up as a leader in the youth group.

I remember one time being asked to teach a high school senior bible study. I was a junior in high school at the time. I’m sure some Best Actor Award accolades are due somehow for that.

After a year or so I was able to identify a couple other guys playing church within the youth group. Takes a hypocrite to know a hypocrite. It wasn’t long before we’d congregate at a kegger on Saturday and learn how to hide a hangover on Sunday.

And so the games began.

On Spring Break of my junior year, my church buddies and I took off for the PCB strip. I bought the beer because I knew a good spot that didn’t card, and remember, I did look thirty five years old. With two beers in my pockets and one in hand we walked the strip, treating girls like trash and mere objects of our desires.

“It doesn’t get any better than this” I thought.

But the party ended rather abruptly for me soon after that. In fact, it screeched to a stunning halt when I found myself sitting in the back of a cop car listening to a police officer chatting with my mom on the phone.

To Be Continued…..(Part Two Here)

Bryan Daniels