She was the most magnificent woman I had ever seen, and she was smiling at me as my friend Mick walked her over and introduced us. Her neat, fashionable attire and manicured appearance was clearly out of place with the sawdust floors of my favorite biker bar. Her name was Diana and within the next few seconds, it seemed like the rest of the noisy bar had faded out, leaving just the two of us there. I asked her what a girl like her was doing in a place like this? She looked me in the eye and replied, “God sent me.” It felt like I sobered up in less than two seconds as I leaned forward to talk with her.
Several months earlier, one Sunday afternoon, after finishing up a mountain bike ride, I was dropping my friend Dave off at his house so he could spend the rest of the day with his family. I had planned to head down to meet the rest of the guys at our favorite bar for a few beers. Dave said to me as I was getting back in the truck “The only way you are going to meet a nice girl at that bar is if she is lost”.
Later that day as I drove through the canyon, I had the urge to pray for the first time in over a decade. This canyon always felt like a special place. The trees canopied the road that twisted and turned through some of the most beautiful country in Orange County, CA. If God were present, this is where I would find him. So I prayed as I drove a simple prayer. “God, we haven’t spoken since I was a kid, but I would give everything I have for a good woman that I love, who loves me in return.” I arrived a few minutes later to the bar and quickly forgot my prayer.
It was now early February and I was celebrating a friends birthday with an epic mountain bike ride followed by some pretty hefty partying back at the bar. It was now getting dark and we had been drinking since early afternoon. I was pretty intoxicated at this point and smelling a little ripe from the combination of cheap beer and my sweaty riding clothes. And that was when I saw her heading towards me with Mick.
She now had my undivided attention as she explained to me how she was trying to take her friend Kelly to drive through this beautiful canyon with the canopy of trees that made you feel like God was right there next to you. She went on to say that it had gotten dark and they had gotten lost. When they saw the lights from the bar, she pulled over to get directions and upon entering the bar, saw our mutual friend Mick. We talked for a few more minutes before he told me she had to get her friend home. We exchanged numbers and she left.
For the rest of the evening I couldn’t get the grin off my face. My drinking buddies looked at me in disbelief. I had never gotten that excited about meeting a woman at a bar. That just wasn’t my thing. It quickly became clear that I had had a little too much to drink, so my buddy John insisted I put Diana’s number in a safe place so I didn’t lose it and offered to drive me home. As I got in John’s car, my friend Dana looked me in the eye and asked “So you think she’s the one?” I remember responding “I think so!”, then John drove me home to sleep it off.
A week later Diana and I went out on our first date. It was clear there was something different about her. Our second date was the next evening for valentines day. We spent a lot of time together over the next few weeks. One Sunday I called here to see if she wanted to get together. She told me she was going to church but could do something afterwards. I said I’d go with her, but to my surprise she said no. She didn’t want to make a date out of church, that that was her time with God. I told her I sincerely wanted to go and that I hadn’t been to church in many years. She reluctantly agreed and later that day, I walked into Saddleback Church for the first time.
This was unlike any Catholic Church service I had been to as a kid. There was no ritual ceremony or fancy robes. Just a pastor in a Hawaiian shirt in a big auditorium. His name was Pastor Rick Warren, and that day I felt like he was speaking directly to me and me alone. The message was clear. God wanted to have a personal relationship with me and through that relationship, I would find meaning for my life. All of the other identities I had taken on in my life were so empty because they weren’t who God created me to be.
After that day, I picked up my bible and read it for the first time in ages. I got involved with the Men’s ministry at Saddleback and began going to church every week. On May 9, 2004 I attended class 101 at Saddleback Church. While sitting in that tent listening to the pastor, it clicked. I had prayed to God offering everything I had for a good woman who loved me that I loved in return. He had answered my prayer, but he didn’t want the worldly possessions I had offered up, he wanted my heart. And so that day I gave my life to the Lord and was baptized.
The following February, Diana and I were married and we have served our Lord Jesus together ever since.