Why I do what I do

I was raised in the Catholic Church and my parents taught me by example many lessons about the importance of living a moral life but as I grew older I found that my faith consisted primarily of obligation and routine and when I found myself out on my own my life was reduced to one centered around my own personal moral code, one filled with many examples of situational ethics and specious justifications.

Then back in about 2003 I was introduced to a client who was a pastor by the name of Jeff Cuozzo who was moving with his family to the area to do a church plant and was looking for a rental. Prior to us beginning our search he asked if he could pray before we left and I shrugged my shoulders and said sure. Well, he launched into a 3 minute prayer that blew me away. It was like poetry or the state of the union address or some such thing, nothing like how I used to pray back when I did. Well we found this perfect house that I thought was undervalued by about $400 a month during a market when even rentals were getting bid up. Sure enough I discovered that it had been listed for 3 months and been reduced by exactly $400 like it was just sitting there for him. We decided to submit an application for another $100 less but when I called the agent found out another application had just come in. Every professional instinct in me told me to tell Jeff to forget about the $100 discount and instead offer more because it was still a bargain but I just could not forget that prayer. So I bit my tongue. We proceeded with the application at the discount, he wrote the owners a note and they accepted his application! After they moved in he invited me to a bible study they were starting at the house and I of course said “Heck yes”!

I spent the next year or so in several bible studies but I have to say I was really looking at things from an academic viewpoint, learning, questioning and intellectualizing. I started to attend services at McLean Bible church at the behest of my best friend David Koury. In the summer of 2005 they made an announcement about a Fall Retreat and I felt a very strong prompting to attend so I signed up.

Shortly before leaving I had what I can only describe as an episode, an intense physical event that I cannot put into words that left me very shaken. I don’t really know what impending death feels like but this is what it felt like to me. I really thought I was about to die and it scared me deeply. I realized I was so scared because I felt like I was not in right standing with God. It passed and I took no immediate action and with the passage of time the memory of it became less urgent so I wrote it off to an imbalance of sorts.

Shortly thereafter I headed down to the retreat in SW Virginia with three other folks. Just outside of Harrisburg the sensations came back with a vengeance. I thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t breath, my chest was constricted, I was dizzy and my arm went numb. I made them drop me off at the hospital in Harrisburg and sent them on their way. After about 6 hours of pain and fear and multiple tests at the hospital they told me they didn’t know what it was but they were sure it wasn’t cardiac so they discharged me. It was after midnight and I called my friend David immediately to have him come down there and get me right away. I didn’t want to die alone in some hotel there.

Surprisingly Dave did not jump in the car immediately. Instead he wanted to “talk it through”. I was hurt and furious!!! Why wasn’t my best friend breaking traffic laws to get to my side? I was still experiencing all the symptoms and simply could not calm down and then he asked me this question: “Chris you told me several times you felt strongly compelled to go on this retreat. Perhaps something important is supposed to happen there. What if this is Satan trying to keep you from being there?” I was stunned. I don’t know why but I knew there was some level of truth there and resolved to go to the retreat no matter how I felt. So I called a cab and took a $180 cab ride to the retreat and collapsed on an unoccupied bunk at 3:00 in the morning convinced I would not be waking up.

I did wake up and in the morning sought out a guy Dave suggested I speak with named Dave Young who has since become a valued friend and mentor. Dave and I spoke at some length about what I was going through and what the Lord might be saying to me. I spent the day in much thought and contemplation and I realized my life had not been what it should have been, and that there was simply no way for me to set things right in my own strength or through my own conduct. I needed a Savior. So in the evening I went down to a nearby pond, sat on a bench with a bible and prayed to God to ask for forgiveness, to hand over whatever remained of my life to Him and to accept and thank Jesus for his actions on the cross for me. So since September 11 2205 I have been breathing eternally.

I went into the celebrations that evening and the next day with no diminution of symptoms but with a wonderful sense of peace and no worry. It seems strange to me but I found myself singing worship songs to God at the services thinking “I’ll be seeing you any minute” with a smile on my face.

The next 6 months were an odyssey of tests, few answers and zero physical comfort. I could not sleep and had no position in which I could find relief. Yet it was a wondrous time for me that I would not trade for anything. You see with no place to turn for respite from the medical community or the physical world I had no where to go but to God for comfort which is exactly what I am sure He wanted. I was privileged to spend hours on my knees in prayer and reliance and He answered those prayers teaching me so many lessons along the way. Ultimately it was concluded that I had a form of generalized anxiety disorder and after proper medication emerged from my trials made much stronger because of them.

The world is a lot different place when you understand that your place in eternity is secured. When you realize that Jesus gave everything for you it inspires you to do likewise for Him and that manifests it self in so many positive ways. The change in ones focus outwards is a true blessing. For me personally it has led to numerous mission trips and positive changes in nearly all areas of my life. You can be assured that there are still struggles but paradoxically through my faith I can view them with joy because of the lessons I can learn and the changes they can produce. As James the brother of Jesus says in James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”. That is a most excellent promise from the Creator of the Universe.

If any of you who are reading this have felt God calling out to you in your life in some way or would like to hear more about what it means to have saving faith in Jesus Christ I would cherish the opportunity to talk with you and answer your questions. Feel free to call me at 703-383-0479 or e-mail me at Chris@Dominicksellshomes.com.

It’s a good life.