My life is that of a traveling motivational speaker, focused primarily upon faith related groups, churches, and high school students. My message is one of hope founded upon my relationship with Jesus Christ and life experiences that have equipped me to encourage the people I encounter.
But my life was not always defined by hope and encouragement. As a middle-schooler, I lost my father to drugs and alcohol. As a student, reading and comprehension of words seemed impossible. As a young adult, I was influenced by the same things that afflicted by father, leading to associations that pulled me further away from productive life, even to jail.
But this story is not about the difficulties. It is about two individuals that I believe God
put in my way for His purpose . . . two unrelated individuals, obedient to God’s assignment in their respective lives, whose influence interrupted what I know would have become a tragic story.
The first is a teacher. Amy Stockard recognized brightness in me and tenaciously coaxed it out. I was unable to handle words on a page. I later learned that I am an auditory learner. I could see the words, but their meaning was lost somewhere between my eyes and my brain. Miss Stockard realized that if I could hear the words, I could learn their meaning. She secured a cassette recorder and taught me to speak the words on the page into the recorder. When I listened to the recording, the lights all came on! It all made sense.
Such insight. Miss Stockard took time to care, and in her caring, realized that I could learn but that I had to learn in a different way. It was transformational. I never looked back. There was nothing that I could not learn. All because a caring teacher took time to help. It was transformational.
The second individual is a preacher. I do not know his name. I was a young husband to Sharlene and had a good job. It was New Year’s Eve, and Sharlene suggested that we go to church. My concept of “go to church” was more along the lines of pop in and pop out. Sharlene was talking about going and staying . . . on New Year’s Eve!!.
“No way!” was my not-to-gentle response. The result was a pretty icy stand-off. Later that night at home, Sharlene went upstairs, and I went downstairs to my man cave with a bar and a TV. As I flipped through the channels, I came upon a preacher. “Consider your ways,” he said as I changed the channel. But I could not get his voice out of my head, and I changed back to the preacher.
“I am talking to you,” he said.
“You and your wife are going through it.”
He was looking right at me, and I had nowhere to run. He was indeed talking to me. I now know that it was the Holy Spirit of God using that preacher to cut through a life of pride and habits to stop me, to turn me, and to introduce me to Himself.
The question remaining in my mind at that moment was, “God, what do you want to do with my life?”
It was the most important moment of my life . . . the New Year’s Eve that God stopped me in my tracks. There would be much more for me to learn, but because of a teacher God used to teach me how to learn and a preacher God used to stop me and turn me, I now have the opportunity to explain to others caught up in pride and bad habits how they too can find the pure joy of God.
There is one other blessing that is particularly important to me personally . . . something only God could do. Though I lost my father to drugs and alcohol as a young boy, he came back into my life when I turned 18. I was able to help lead him to the Lord. Today he is a believer, a great father, and my best friend.
Pete Key is an international motivational speaker, consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father.