It’s only through complete surrender where one can truly win the redemptive victory. This is my surrender…
I once had the honor to meet Pastor and best-selling author, 1Dr. Rick Warren. Given that he knows a thing or two about writing a successful book [e.g. The Purpose Driven Life], I thought that I would take the opportunity to glean some advice from him. In regards to writing [a book or anything], he told me, “Write about what you are passionate about. And then, continue to write about that.” When I told him that I was writing an autobiography, his reply was simply, “Yeah, you had better be passionate about that!”
I initially didn’t want to write this book. However, I knew that I had to write this book. Call it “apprehensive conviction.” Some might question as to why I would ever lay myself open like this, bearing my pain, struggles & failures. It’s past history. Why not simply keep it to myself and move on? One could say, “It’s too risky,” or “Have you considered the possible negative consequences to your life; to your ministry?” — Perhaps. Or, perhaps someone might read this book, relate to the things that I share, and find true hope, encouragement, and eternal freedom.
I want to stress that my goal in this book is to share my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not so you focus on my many failures. Rather, my hope is that you will see the hand of a saving, forgiving, loving God and His marvelous work in the life of a fallible human being.
In writing this book I want to be real and brutally honest – authentic, regarding my life and my story as a Christian. I have found that life is way too short to waste people’s time with surface-level fluff, trying to make them “comfortable” so as not to offend them in any way.
Stories can be hard and uncomfortable to read – Just like the story of Jesus on the cross. That was not pretty. It was hard. It was uncomfortable. It was ugly. It was painful. Yet, if we stop at the crucifixion and close the Bible we will miss the exciting, powerful way that God orchestrated the ending – an ending that points the way towards eternal life with God in Heaven.
My story might be difficult to read as well. I have had trials, struggles, pain, and have done some stupid, hurtful things in my life. However, I truly believe that God can take our trash and trials and turn them into a tale of triumph and victory.
I am convinced that our lives are purposeful, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our lives, our story, are part of a greater story – God’s story. And in reality, it’s not always pretty, dressed up neatly in pure white with a sugary-coated bow on top while harp music plays in the background. Regardless of our life experiences, there are reasons for them. These reasons can be used for God’s glory, if we allow them to. I want my story to reflect how good God has been to me in my life. His forgiving mercies and His power to equip and use me for His purposes have been humbly amazing.
I am also writing this book so that perhaps others might be able to relate to my life. One of the greatest “tools” that those of us who are in ministry have is the ability to relate to and connect with people. The people I seek to minister to and with must know that I can truly relate to them, that I’ve “walked in their shoes” and share common experiences with them. Otherwise, I’ll have no legitimate right to speak into their lives. It is powerful for others to know that they are not alone, that there are people who have done the same dumb things that they may have done. It is also important for them to know that if they will allow God to be their leader they can experience the [real] life and freedom that God desires for them – this is the goal of ministry.
A Bible verse that means a lot to me states: “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life.” – 1 Timothy 1:14-16 (NIV)
As you might have guessed, there is a “pro wrestling” theme here. As such, I will use pro wrestling metaphors and stories throughout this book to illustrate my points. The first six chapters of this book present an autobiographical look into my life and detail various trials and triumphs that I have had over the years. The remaining chapters offer some biblical insight, wisdom, and application that will help you prepare for the “wrestling matches” in life.
Note to female readers: Please do not let the “pro wrestling” theme stop you from reading any further. You will eventually see where I am going with all of this. Stay with me.
Growing up, my father [Bob Hoyler] never got into pro wrestling, although he did come with me to my first live wrestling match. Dad’s comments to me about wrestling were pretty consistent. He would simply look at me, shake his head, and say, “Oh, that stupid wrestling!”
I shared with my father what I was writing about and how I used the pro wrestling backdrop. His comments surprised me. He said, “Well, I thought all that pro wrestling stuff was kind of a waste of time since it was such an obvious fake, but I didn’t say anything about it because it seemed to be harmless overall (he never tried any of the holds on me!). But now, many years later, I see it was not a waste of time and had a major effect that I never realized at the time.”
Whether or not you realize it, there is a constant “wrestling match” going on for the hearts, minds and souls of all people. I want to help you win these matches. And, I want you to see that these matches have eternal ramifications. While the first six chapters deal primarily with my life, chapters 7-11 [“Step into the Ring”] are application chapters for all of us.
If you ever watched pro wrestlers being interviewed or acting out their “storyline,” you would see them shouting and carrying on. They get right into the face of their opponent, calling them out and trash-talking. Sometimes, it can be the same way within the Church and Christian community too.
In this book I call things as I see them. I do this unashamedly, in humility and in love. The truth is important. But, I do not want anyone to feel “judged” or “yelled at.” – That doesn’t win any matches and only drives people away from God. I do, however, want people to feel challenged, encouraged, and inspired.
I realize how imperfect I am. My life is often a mess. However, in writing this book I have seen God bringing healing and restoration into my life. It has been freeing and amazing. Perhaps my story will help you as you face your life’s challenges — your “wrestling matches.”
My fellow “wrestlers”: Our Enemy is fierce and we are the underdogs. Perhaps you are up against the ropes and feel down-for-the-count in life. If so, this book is for you. Maybe your opponent is pounding you mercilessly and you feel defeated, with no help in sight. If so, this book is for you. Or, you might just be the person who doesn’t even realize that you’re in a battle. If so, this book is for you.
Please know that I am in your corner and so is God. Let the match begin.