Two Life Altering Moments at Grace

Two Life Altering Moments at Grace

Posted on March 02, 2018


Last Sunday was another life-changing moment for me. And it’s the kind of news God has encouraged me to share.

Before I tell you about my big moment at church on Sunday, you need to know how I got here. I started attending Grace in 2003. Jesus began stirring in me at that time, but I did not give Him the attention He deserved. You see, I had life figured out. My wife and I were high school sweethearts and married at 22 right out of college. After this, I was on a mission to succeed in business, provide well for my family and save/invest for the future. But, no matter how much I accomplished, I always felt like something was missing.

Years ago, Senior Pastor, Dave Rodriguez, asked, “Do you believe God owns it all?” I was puzzled. I went up to Dave after service and asked him how this worked. I had done everything ever asked of me to get where I was. Wasn’t this my success and glory? Dave said, “Of those who are blessed with a lot, much is expected.” This rattled around in my brain and heart for the next several days…until 4 days later…when my life was changed forever. My wife told me she was filing for divorce after 22 years of marriage. I was speechless, devastated and angry.

On Father’s Day 2010, just 3 days later, I came to church by myself and told Dave the news. I said I was lost and needed direction. During worship, something came over me and I gave the rest of my life to the Lord that day. I asked Jesus to show me a new path. I asked that He comforted my pain, anger, and emptiness. And, I committed to submit to Him.

Dave took time out of his schedule to meet with me and help me chart this new course. Along the way, I learned that the Lord is my foundation. I learned to read my Bible and pray every day (just like Billy Graham said on Sunday, but we’ll get to that later). In 2010, I was baptized!

Fast forward to February 2018. Dave decided to play a Billy Graham sermon at Grace Church instead of his prepared sermon in honor of Billy. That was very thoughtful and a very humble thing for a pastor to do when he had worked all week on a prepared sermon. He literally passed the baton to one of the best preachers who ever lived. I wonder how many pastors did that this weekend. Not many I bet.

In any event, during that 35-minute sermon from 1957 in Madison Square Garden...around the middle...Billy talks about wooing his wife for 2 years when dating her, working hard to earn her trust, and diligently pursuing her. He respected her, appreciated her, and loved her. But in the end, that was not enough. He needed to say publicly, “I will”. That got my attention. God had my attention for sure during this sermon.

As the sermon goes on, Billy talks about discipline with our minds, our time and our commitments...and for saying “I will” for following Christ just like he had said “I will” for his marriage. Billy creates a sense of urgency with his messages if you’ve ever heard them. He says in this sermon if he himself was in the audience and heard the Good News message he was sharing that day, and he had not made that commitment of saying “I will follow Christ’, you couldn’t drag him out of that arena before he made that commitment of his heart and his will.

By the end of that sermon, something was stirring deep in me. Something I hadn't felt in a while. By the end of Billy Graham’s 1957 sermon with no hesitation and no debate in my head (and with it being the last thing on my mind heading into that day or service), my heart and my will turned to Stephanie on my knee and I asked her if she would marry me right there in Grace Church. It was like an out of body experience for me. Stephanie was floored and hugging me the tightest ever and she said yes. Also, later in the day (because she had to work early and couldn’t join us for the service) I got a HUGE gripper hug (bigger and tighter than I ever received in my life with her jumping 2 feet high into my arms) from my 18-year-old daughter Lizzy who lives with me. Stephanie and Lizzy have developed a beautiful relationship and respect. It is amazing to watch it grow. I think both of my ladies were just as moved as I was on Sunday.

But the story doesn’t end there. After the service we spoke with Dave Rod’ and we told him the good news. He had gotten to know us and seen us as a couple over the last couple years. Stephanie got baptized herself on February 4 and he wrapped her in a towel as she was exiting the baptismal. Dave was very excited of the news and he prayed with us.

On Monday morning I received an unexpected call from Dave. We have worked closely together with Grace’s Leadership Team over the last few years helping expand Grace campuses to Fishers and Nora. Dave did tell some of his leadership team that the first and only marriage proposal during a service in Grace’s 26-year history occurred on Sunday. Dave went on to tell me word traveled fast and one of our Grace staff members has a family member who works for the Billy Graham Ministry and knows the family personally. So the good news has been shared with the Graham family that a marriage proposal came out of one of Billy’s sermons played in church on Sunday in Central Indiana with all of the Graham family this week learning of this blessing as they mourn Billy’s passing.

I share this so all of you remember and pursue The Good News yourself.

But it doesn't stop there. Billy Graham said, "The greatest legacy one can pass on is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith." You will find that by following Jesus, I promise.

Each of you has a special role in this life. Now go and fulfill what God is calling you to do! Not sure what that is? Come to Grace and they'll help you discover it.

Are You Ready to Surrender?

If you feel something stirring in you…it’s probably the Holy Spirit. My recommendation to you is to follow it and don’t hold anything back. If you have this nudge, baptisms are THIS WEEKEND at Grace. Whether you go here or not, just come. Come and see what God has in store for you. Come and surrender your life to Christ. I can promise you that it will be the beginning of a life transformation you never thought possible. If that's you, find a location here or contact Grace and they'll help you get started down the path of a new life!

By the way, this is me below. If you ever see me around, please say hi. I'd love to get to know you and your story!


Thank you so much for sharing your story and congratulations! I related to the part where you are married for 22 years and got divorced. I just got divorced in June after 25 year marriage except mine was very controlling and abusive! Luckily I got out. We have a 23 year old daughter. My daughter is married and I'm living with my son-in-law and daughter since I have no home sleeping on their sofa crunched into a one-bedroom apartment. God also spoke to me during the sermon on Stay and told me to stay working my 2 jobs and living in this safe place. Just got connected with the women of Grace Bible study and I'm pretty excited about that! Best wishes, Pamela

Posted by Pamela Caplinger -Johnson on March 5, 2018 @ 11:02 am