Dear Pastor Rick,
My wife and I have been members of Saddleback Church for nearly 14 years.
Saddleback Church has had a profound impact on our lives and the lives of
our two kids. We feel blessed every day that we have the privilege of
calling Saddleback our home. We have been part of the same small group
for the last 10 years (since the first Purpose Driven Life study). Our
entire family (including my mother) serves in the Welcome ministry. We
want everyone to love our church as much as we do. Saddleback Church changes lives.
There is no greater example of how Saddleback has changed my life than what
happened on March 3, 2007. That weekend, you spoke about the need to be healthy
to fulfill God’s plan for our lives. You challenged those of us who were
carrying a few extra pounds to write down the number of pounds we wanted to
lose by Christmas and drop a card in the basket. I wrote down “25 pounds”
hopeful that this would finally be the time it worked. My wife rolled her
eyes at me and wished me good luck. At age 36, I was 288 pounds, probably
headed towards all the health problems that overweight people have. My wife
had seen my weight increase since we met at age 19. There seems to be a
relationship between years married and weight! I had no idea about the journey
God was going to take me on. I didn’t feel any different. I didn’t hear God speak
to me. I just dropped a card in a basket. God knew what I did. God had just
enrolled me in what I like to call The Daniel Plan 1.0.
When I woke up the next morning, God had taken over my physical life. I had not
exercised in years. That day, I started small by going for a walk. I had not
eaten well … ever. That day, I began to view food differently. My lifelong
battle with my weight changed that day because God grabbed hold of me and changed
my heart. As I write this note, I am 70 pounds lighter than I was 6 years ago.
You have spoken about the many undiscovered passions and talents we have within us.
It took this radical change in my life to discover my passion for fitness.
On my journey I discovered the sport of triathlon. I used to think that people
who ran and exercised for fun were crazy. Now I know they are crazy! I have
competed in nearly 30 triathlons since I dropped the card in the basket. This
November I will race Ironman Arizona. That is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike
and a 26.2 mile run. I proudly race in my Multisport Ministries jersey with
Philippians 4:13 emblazoned on the side and a big cross on the back. God got
me off the couch 6 years ago and he will get the credit when I cross the finish
line of Ironman Arizona. I have swum, biked and run nearly 20,000 miles in the
last 6 years. Along the way, I have said many prayers of thanks that He has given
me the ability and desire to be fit. I know of no greater way to worship God
than to be outside enjoying His creation doing what He created me to do. Only
God knew that the fat guy sitting in church 6 years ago was about to embark on
the adventure of his life. I could not and would not have done any of this on my own.
I suspect that I am about to go on another adventure. You have told us that
the two most dangerous and exciting words a Christian can say are “use me”. At
the ministry fair a couple weeks ago, I approached The Daniel Plan table and
told them to “use me”. I don’t know what this means. I think I am about to find out.
God does not give us pain without purpose. I was overweight for the first 36 years
of my life. That was painful. I want to use that part of my life to help others.
I have discovered many things about life and about myself during the past 6 years.
The greatest truth I have discovered is that life is so much better fit than fat.
I am excited to help in any way that I am able. I have never felt more alive and
passionate than I feel right now. I know God has equipped me with the tools to
serve others in this capacity. It just took a few years to discover that. We are
blessed to be a blessing. I pray that He uses me for His glory.
We recently had some friends over to the house. They noticed our wedding picture
and did not know how to ask my wife who her first husband was. They did not know
if he died or if there was a divorce. In a sense, the man in that wedding picture
is no longer. I have become a new man through my years at Saddleback. I have grown immensely
on the inside and shrunk on the outside. You have helped me become a better man, father, son and husband.
I am happy to model a healthy lifestyle for my family – physically and spiritually.
This is something that will serve us very well during our time on Earth and very well
during our time in Heaven. I am so thankful that God brought you to the Saddleback Valley
33 years ago. God bless you and God bless our church family.