Rich’s Journey

SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

Do you think there’s an easy path to Jesus?

If there is, I missed the signs. Despite growing up in church and Sunday school, I mostly ignored God for thirty years. I wandered without focus until a series of events demanded my attention.

First my Mom died after a bitter battle with cancer. My marriage collapsed under the weight of depression, and I impulsively quit my job and ran away to “start a new life” in Colorado. Of course the unresolved issues tagged along, and I found myself alone and lost in a strange city. God used my loneliness and brokenness to guide me to a small church. I met the pastor and some amazing people who began my introduction to Jesus.

Though I learned about Jesus, I still didn’t understand my personal relationship with Him. God was preparing me, laying a foundation on which He could re-build a shattered life.

In December, 1987 I fell from a roof while installing Christmas lights and damaged my spinal cord. I returned home five months later in a wheelchair.

A Sudden Turn

Permanent paralysis has a way of shifting your awareness. The injury highlighted my missing sense of “true-north,” but rather than fighting to re-orient my life I simply quit. I wasted a decade in self-pity, convinced that nothing useful remained.

For ten years I wandered in darkness, convinced not even God could find me—that’s a pretty good working definition of “hopeless.” I became so accustomed to the darkness that I believed I’d never see light again.

My only wish was death and an end to the pain. I tried to run away, but God pursued me relentlessly and refused to let me throw away the life He gave me.

He worked through a series of inspirational individuals to gradually reveal His plan for a life filled with meaning and purpose. He used the horrors of my injury to highlight the guideposts I’d missed for so long, and in the midst of tragedy He showed me the reality of Romans 8:28. Where I saw only chaos and pain, God patiently fashioned something wonderful.

It wasn’t fast (ten years!) and it certainly wasn’t easy, but the evidence of relentless, loving grace was unmistakable. I deserved only my self-constructed prison built from the rubble of accident, mistakes, failures, and bad decisions, but Jesus’ sacrificial love unlocked the door. Because of God’s grace I can go forward in freedom.

I finally understood what it meant to truly invite Jesus into my life as Lord.

A New Chapter

Along the way, a personal journal revealed patterns in a seemingly chaotic and senseless journey. The signs along the path began to make sense. Over several years the journal became a story, and the story became a book titled Relentless Grace.

I retired from a thirty-five year career as a math teacher and opened a new chapter in a most unlikely journey. Now I write and speak from my wheelchair about hope, possibilities, and new beginnings.

I’ve learned a simple, powerful lesson: With God, hopeless is a lie.

Well, I’ve actually learned an even more powerful lesson: Jesus loves me. 

A BRIEF BIO

I entered the world in the picturesque little town of Deer Lodge, Montana. As a kid my family lived in Montana (twice), Chicago (three times), Milwaukee, and Philadelphia before finally settling in Iowa, where I graduated from high school and college and began my teaching career.

I’ve lived in Fort Collins, Colorado since 1981.

Professional Career

I’ve been a public school mathematics teacher for thirty five years, along with a three-year stint as a high school counselor.

I’ve also done construction work and operated my own general contracting company for five years.

Family

Becky and I have been married since 2002. We live in Fort Collins with Monte, a wonderful Labrador Retriever who’s also a specially-trained service dog and my constant companion. (Here’s a family picture.)

Hobbies

I love to ride my hand cycle. I crank more than two thousand miles each year. Monte and I frequent the extensive bike trail system in Fort Collins (check out the photo). I’m also a devoted fan of the Rockies and Yankees, spend too much time (according to Becky) with my computer, and I find great pleasure in writing.

Education

B.S. in Mathematics, M.S. in Counseling (Iowa State University) GO CYCLONES!

Church

Becky, Monte, and I have found an incredibly fulfilling church home at Timberline Church in Fort Collins.