Hop Skotch Storytelling: Five Decades of Grace

#StainedGlassDec guest post by Mark Krimm

I knew when I was planning this series that my dad was one of the first people I wanted to ask to share his story. I wish you could all sit in my parents living room, have a drink and listen to him tell these stories in all of their entirety for hours on end. But since you can’t, here is his cliff notes version — hop skotch storytelling, as he likes to call it. A jump from one God moment to the next, making up almost 50 years of broken pieces rearranged into one big mosaic miracle. Refill your coffee and pull up a chair. This is a good one. (Love you, Daddy.)

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***

Last week I had the opportunity to be a guest on a radio show with the tag “where faith and sports collide”. The thrill of sharing my views on how athletics can be used by God to forge character in the next generation of men, obviously “got my pee hot” (that’s coach speak for “fired up”).

The real blessing, however, was that beginning the interview with me sharing the story of my salvation and journey gave me a chance to wonder at the way that God has used the “broken pieces” to make me His unique “Master’s piece.”

When you’ve lived almost 5 decades, been married almost 3, and have raised 3 girls who are all now wives; it’s hard to land on just one moment. In fact, why don’t I just skip across some of the events of my life as a child might choose to skip across hopscotch squares?

As a 14 year old troubled youth in a godless, broken, and often violent home, God courted me through a 25 year old man that while he was passing through my life made God seem real, and a bookmark in John chapter 1 in a Bible. Bored one night, I read through chapter 3 and took Jesus up on the offer he made Nicodemus. “…that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.”

My life has never been the same! All has been good and this Christian thing has been a breeze! I’m going to assume that you just picked up on that sarcasm, so let’s get to skipping on some events that were ugly, painful, frustrating, foolish, unfair, dark, selfish… and how God in His infinite mercy and grace has used them to show Himself to me and through me.

6 months into my “new life” my 18-year-old brother was murdered. In the pain, anger and loss, God revealed how only He could sustain me, and how my “new family” was equipped to deal with this calamity in a way that brought healing and strength. I latched on to His Church and His Word, and what the enemy meant for destruction, God used in His construction.

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My plans to go to a major college, play big-time football and major in pre-med, found me “settling” for a small NAIA school in West Texas town with a blown-out knee and undecided on a major. Missing a football season allowed me to “stumble” across a ministry called Young Life to volunteer in and realize that I really wanted to pursue a degree that would set me up to work with students (hence a degree in Education & Psychology). He saw what I could not; 2 decades on Young Life staff and now a Head Football Coach and teacher (and Young Life volunteer of course).

At 20, my ambitious goals for “myself” were interrupted by a positive pregnancy test (“There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney kind of stuff) and the decision to take on being a husband and father. It got worse before it got better and 2 more daughters later I came to a “breaking point”.

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That was almost 28 years ago and what I thought was going to ruin my plans, God packaged into a wife (& best friend) that I still can’t keep my eyes (and hands) off and 3 daughters married to men of God that are difference-makers for Jesus.

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In my 30’s I was convinced that a move to Nashville for business was going to land us as millionaires (really!) and freedom like never before. Six months into the move, our business plans were interrupted by God reminding me of my call to kids and a Young Life area that needed a leader. My 6 years as the “interim” Area Director there transformed my whole family in ways that are simply AWESOME and put me in the midst of some heroic believers (“thanks” Eve Sarrett & Chris Williamson).

This year, I have taken on my first Head Coaching position of a program that went winless last year. Full of confidence and vision, I just knew the staff and I would see a miraculous turn-around and a trip to the post-season. Swallowing 2-8 didn’t go down very good! But last week in a meeting with some parents, a single mother said with tear-filled eyes, “Coach, thank you for what you are doing and giving me my son back.” It was a humble reminder that God’s work exceeds beyond the frustrations that we experience.

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There are so many more squares that I could “hop” on, but there is a “word limit” imposed on me by our editor (my daughter).

Even today, I wander through dark places of doubt and pain. God’s truth in the scriptures may not remove the obstacles, but it does promise to deliver me beyond them.

He said it: ”All things work for the good”… ”he who began, will complete”… “he does not forsake” … and we are moving “from glory to glory”.

So I suppose I will just keep on accumulating the “broken pieces” of living IN the world so I can watch God make them into a “masterpiece” that’s NOT OF this world.

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