Donnie Burns

We are all on a path, our own personal journey. Some paths are more difficult than others.

My personal history is not a shock and awe story. What happened to me has happened to many others. I share it in order to provide a context for hope and encouragement.

As a young man in my twenties I was married with three children and on a solid spiritual track. I served as a deacon in the church. My spiritual flame was burning with a healthy supply of oxygen, but one day I woke up and the oxygen was gone. I experienced life changing events and a divorce. Perhaps cliché but it was something I never thought I would face – not in a million years.

Intertwined in all the hurt and confusion was involvement by church leadership relating to my children’s welfare. What happened was perceived and fueled by gossip, rumor, and subjective speculation. While the leadership did not follow through with an initial plan for a higher degree of action, the damage was done.

Divorce is enough to leave deep wounds and scars. Add extreme disillusionment to the mix and it will affect the majority of folks negatively. The truth is I allowed it to affect me adversely. As a result, my path for the next twenty years involved Wandering Aimlessly About the Spiritual Path (WAASP). To be clear, there is no blame on others and their actions. I am the one accountable to God; we all are. I’m just relating what happened and how it affected me.

It’s been said that “Obstacles in the path are not obstacles; they are the path.” How true that is! The question becomes, what will you do when you face life-altering obstacles?

I never lost the foundational faith that I had previous to my divorce. I just didn’t practice it. I sporadically visited different churches. I rationalized “This church is not a good fit,” “That church is not a good fit.” I clicked in on Sunday mornings to “Internet Church.” The feeling that I could walk alone with Christ and be just fine kept the charade alive but left me “numb” for years. The reality is, it was not fine. I was in a spiritual coma for twenty years. I just kept justifying, rationalizing, and fooling myself day after day.

By the grace of God I finally awakened from my WAASP. I believe the Holy Spirit touched my life in the summer of 2012. It was as if I had been tapped on the shoulder and a light turned on. By and through the Holy Spirit I have faithfully returned to the bride of Christ and eliminated a few bad habits along the way.

I have intentionally surrounded myself with godly and spiritual people. I have engaged in new, spiritual walks – not the least of which is involvement with The Timothy Network. I believe its purpose (intentional discipleship and disciple making) should be the purpose of every Christian.

I have lamented wasting over twenty years of potential influence and service to God, but I also know God can use what we may feel is “waste” to his glory. I’m just getting started on the new journey, but I am encouraged and focused on what’s truly important. By the patience and grace of God the oxygen is back!

Donnie has been involved with Timothy Network since early 2013. He is in a discipling group led by Joe Wakham.