If you would have told me six years ago I would be a believer of Christ, have a doctorate in counseling and be a member of a church, I would have told you that you were insane and questioned the sanity of believing in Christ. I rejected the concept of Christianity, spouted off Unitarian belief and was living as an atheist. I was stuck focusing on everything the world could give me — money, power, materials and security.
I eventually lost it all. The economy blew up; I lost my money, filed bankruptcy and got divorced. Little by little I was dying inside. One night my mom and sister graciously shared the Gospel with me. But I was arrogant, cocky, intellectually superior and incorrigible. My sister encouraged me to read a book called “Letters from a Skeptic” about letters from a Christian son to his anti-Christian father. Every time I read the letter from the dad, I thought there could be no logical answer to God.
About halfway through the book, by the grace of God, I encountered the Truth about Christ. The Holy Spirit descended in my heart in a real and tangible way. A peace dwelled in my heart and spirit. This launched a massive change.
It was mind-blowing and unexpected. A complete re-arranging of everything I had believed for 42 years. God broke through the layers of hardness so I could encounter Him. I had to challenge all of the thoughts against Christianity, put aside the education I stood on with pride and realize that Christianity is the most logical thing.
"God broke through the layers of hardness so I could encounter Him."
I called my mom, who prayed for me to know Christ for 30 years, and I told her Christ is the Lord and Savior of my life. She cried, and she asked me about the Bible she had given me 15 years before. A Bible I had never opened. I found the Bible and opened it straight to Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” God took a heart so bent, so stuck in unbelief, and He made it new.
In 2010, God started nudging me to go to seminary. With my history and past, I thought I would be ineligible to go. I had chased after everything in this world and thought God couldn’t use someone like me. I enrolled and studied apologetics for a year and a half before God led me back into the counseling field. In August 2014 I graduated with a doctorate in Professional Counseling. Now, I have my own Christian counseling practice helping people deal with family issues, depression, anxiety and addiction.
It has been an absolute joy and wonderment to see how God unfolded my life. God has blessed me with my wife, Katherine, who supports me in my Christian growth, and the four wonderful children He has given us. Accepting Him, His grace, mercy and Gospel, changed my life to glorify Him and help others.
I was stuck in the belief that organized religion contributed to much of the evil of mankind. Now I see life from a totally different set of lenses. My life is evidence of God's grace and unmerited gift.
— Mark Hagwood, Pinelake Madison