Graduation and Other Journeys

Voice of the Vestry | June, 2022

by Tony Nelson

As summer is upon us, we have many people graduating from high school or college. They are at an important juncture in their life, making decisions that will plot a course in their life. Eighteen years ago, in the throes of my alcohol addiction, I surrendered to God and asked for his help. This decision was a turning point in my life and my unbelievable faith/recovery journey began.

 Having always been painfully shy, drinking had always given me the ability to talk to people, to function in a society that required interaction. So now at 45 years of age, I was trusting Jesus to come alongside of me, to guide me out of the dark abyss I was in. It was scary, but somehow, I felt such a peace within, knowing that our loving Lord was going to be with me on this journey.

 I was on disability because of back issues, so God’s voice in my head urged me to volunteer at different organizations. One of these volunteer opportunities led me to Grace Episcopal Church for a Safe Harbor overnight shift. This led me to being one of the first volunteers at Jubilee House that wasn’t a member of Grace Church. Eventually I went with a good friend to the 5 pm service for the first time, and just fell in love with the peaceful, loving feeling when I stepped into the sanctuary. I started attending Grace Church on a regular basis in 2010, when I was coaxed into getting my picture taken for the church directory, because they happened to see me around a lot volunteering! 

 The Lord put such caring people from this church in my path, knowing I needed the love and support to grow into the person I am today. I immersed myself into the different ministries, but always kicking myself and second guessing why God would force me to be doing these things!  I signed up to be a Lector, knowing full well that I couldn’t talk in front of people without shaking like a leaf and losing sleep the night before. But our all-knowing Lord and close friends had faith in me, and although it took a few years, I no longer get nervous. In fact, in my current position as director of a nonprofit, I have done interviews on tv, radio, and have spoken in front of hundreds of people. It seems so unbelievable, and I ask myself, who is this guy doing all this stuff?

 The Lord knows the hairs on our head and can see into our souls. I made the big decision 18 years ago, but I make a big decision every morning to commit to spreading the love of Jesus to everyone I meet. He strengthens my faith every day, guiding and loving me as he continues to transform my life. The sky is the limit for all of us if we rely on our faith and the goodness of our savior Jesus Christ. We don’t have to be stuck in a rut or say I can’t do something. Every day is a brand-new day, take a chance and get out of your comfort zone and trust the Lord! I am not the same person I was 18 years ago, or even a year ago. I remember being asked years ago, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, I’m still growing up at 63 years of age and can’t wait to see what the future holds!  

 May God’s grace, peace, and love be with you all!

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