He Saved Me Before I Was Drowning

Earlier this week, I pulled up in the parking lot and realized that I arrived to work at the same time as Randy, our ‘facilities overseer’. In all truth, I’ve never known anyone like Randy. As expected, I was greeted with his winsome smile and wonted positivity. As we walked in together, we subsequently entered into what I would call ‘an-other worldly’ conversation. This is actually not an uncommon experience to have with Randy. In fact, I often refer to him as ‘the prophet with a tool belt’ or ‘the prophet on a ladder’ or ‘the prophet with a vacuum’ or … well, I think you get the point. Our conversation began by Randy sharing with me about a meeting that he had attended the night before at city hall. It was an informational gathering for people volunteering at an outreach event that is taking place this weekend. The event is called ‘Hope Over Heroin’ and it is focused on mobilizing the church for prayer and evangelism in the face of the heroin/opiate epidemic sweeping across our nation. Randy let me know that he (along with his family) is serving at this event ‘in Bubba’s honor’. Bubba is Randy’s son who they lost to a drug overdose four years ago.

I felt like I was stepping into a sacred moment as I listened to Randy process the day that he had to say good-bye to his son. He spoke of the paralyzing pain and of the utter despair and of his overwhelming desire to give up on life. My eyes filled with tears as I watched his do the same. He began to make statements that were unexpected and even mysterious. He said—“While I was buckling under the intensity of the pain, Roland Mitchell saved my life. As a matter of fact, Roland saved my life before I was ever drowning.” I waited patiently for the commentary on these inscrutable statements. Without any kind of segue, Randy began to recount the memorial service of Coleman Mitchell (the beloved son of Roland and Angela) and the agonizing beauty of Roland’s worship that day (in the face of unthinkable loss). Randy resounded his gratitude—“Roland’s worship saved my life that day.” While I was captivated by the extravagance of what he was saying, I felt confused about the chronology of it all (Coleman went to heaven 16 months before Bubba did).

Then, it clicked.

A life-changing revelation was being rolled out before me.

I was starting to get it …

Our decisions to choose God in all circumstances—victories and failures, great gain and unimaginable loss, joyful seasons and times full of sorrow—have a reach beyond the constraints of time and space. Our choices not only impact the present, but they impact the future.

When Randy was ‘drowning’ from the loss of his son, the Lord reminded him of Roland’s audacious choice to worship God (as he said good-bye to his own son). Roland’s worship during his darkest night called Randy to a place of worship during his darkest night … and that is what saved his life. This weekend, Randy will release a sound of worship over those struggling with addiction and lives will be saved. I love God’s economy. 

Let me leave you with three ‘take-aways’—

1. When issued to God, our pain is never wasted.

2. When issued to God, our pain provides rescue for others.

3. When issued to God, our pain releases a sound that calls others to


Acts 17:26-28 says, “From one man He made every nation of men, to inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out and grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’”

Evan Gladstone11 Comments