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Stories of Redemption
Dan’s Cake Day Speech
Simply put, I came to His Mansion as a very particular kind of person, and am leaving as a very different man in a way that is only able to be attributed to Jesus Christ. It is a miracle that I am here, and that I made it through this year as a Servant Leader in one piece. Had I had any idea on the front end what this year would have entailed, I can say pretty confidently I would not have done it. I am grateful that ignorance is bliss and God grants the strength to endure incredible circumstances. Beyond that, Jesus has done incredible work in my life that only the absolute involvement of the triune God could have brought about. Jesus made it all possible by His death and resurrection. God the Father has been sovereign throughout. And the Holy Spirit moves in and through us all, in ways I cannot even begin to explain.
The transformational journey that this year has been for me is difficult to put into words. I think that anyone who comes to the end of their time here and attempts to sum it up will quickly find that mere words cannot truly do it the justice it deserves. Nevertheless, I will try.
I want to focus on a couple of the big areas that I have seen Christ move and work in my life since I’ve been here, the first being my relationship with my mother and with God. When I was a young boy, my mom brought big changes to our family when she had an affair with a man in our church. Life fell apart, I got furious with God and my mother, and found a way to bury my pain down very deep. I went on through life trying to trick myself into being ok, but always knowing there was still deep pain down there in my heart that was undealt with. Through being given the privilege of entering into Phase Two [along with the residents], this pain and the insecurities that had been fostered rose to the surface of my life, and I was forced to either deal with them or attempt to run further from the inevitable. Through the process of Inner Healing, I met Jesus Christ in my deepest and darkest moment, and realized that He had been with me the entire time. This has been one of the single greatest outcomes of my time here, because not only was a I able to stop blaming God for what wasn’t His fault (and as a result to truly trust Him), but I was also able to actually forgive my mother for being a sinful human being and allow her to make mistakes. I love my mom, and I am able to receive love from her now in a way that was completely impossible for me before. This healing with my mother has led to further healing in other areas of my life, which is incredible in and of itself. It’s like a chain reaction. The Holy Spirit is a holy virus that doesn’t relent, and for that I praise God.
The other area I’ve been challenged and shaped in here is in humility. I had no idea how prideful I was when I came here. I had inklings of it, but the depth of my pride knew no bounds. Coming to terms with the ugliness of my sin and the reality of it was one of the hardest things of my entire life. But realizing the presence of it and continually giving it to God to be dealt with has been one of the most rewarding parts of my journey here as well. Recognizing the ability to truly learn from anybody has become a reality that I cling to, and for that I am thankful to every person on this hill, no matter how large or small your role has been in my life. Every person here has taught me and shaped me in some way or form, and that is a miracle in and of itself. I’m learning how to not place limits on what God can do or on whom or what he will use to teach me and grow me; I’m trusting who he puts into my life to press into me and shape me.
In coming to His Mansion to serve as a Servant Leader with the men, I’ve been so blessed to discover that no matter how far along the road you feel like you are, the fact remains that we are all still on the same road. The ground really is level at the foot of the cross. In this way, the Refiner’s Fire that seems to burn so hot and so bright amongst the residents’ lives is untamable, and I have come to believe that it is the very fire of God’s Holy Spirit changing us. When you get close to it, you get burned. And when we get burned, we get refined. As a man who pridefully came here to be a savior, to rescue, to fix, and to generally be the best at whatever he did, it’s been a total surprise and complete shift to realize none of that stuff really mattered, and that what was of true importance was being an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands. And as he used me to help redeem others, he saw fit to redeem me as well in ways that I could not have even imagined. Our God is strange and glorious.
Men of the program, in some way, shape, or form, I came here to love and serve you, even though I had no idea what I was really getting myself into: so thank you for allowing me to love you, and for loving me in return. This experience cannot be matched, and is unparalleled in so many ways. It is one of a kind, and for that I have each of you to be thankful to.
I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but it is surely bright. I’m comforted in knowing that while this is goodbye for now, it is not the end forever. Whether on this side of heaven or the other, I am sure I will see many of you again. I’m reminded to ‘Trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding/ In all my ways [to] acknowledge Him, and He will make my paths straight.’ This has undeniably been the most challenging year of my life, but also without a doubt the most rewarding. God has taught me things in this year that I will continue to walk out and carry with me for the rest of my life on earth. As hard as it’s been, I would do it all over again. I do not regret it. I am beyond thankful to each and every one of you on this Hill and for the impact you have had on my character as a man striving to be more like Christ. I love you all, and rather than do thank you’s now, I desire to thank you personally and individually for our relationship.
In closing, I would ask for prayer that I would not quickly forget the work that God has done in my life here. I want to remember, because I believe that in remembrance my faith will be rooted in the work of the Lord in my life. Also, please pray that I quickly find solid community and accountability to step into outside of here, so that the solid bonds that have begun here do not pass away, but continue with the new people that God brings into my life. And beyond all else, pray that I will always continue to seek the Lord. Thank you.