“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29.11-13
So where should I begin…
How about I start at the end and travel back in time to the beginning?
Very well, let’s do that.
Hello, my name is Max Rechel, and I am sitting here in my apartment at Asbury University thinking of a way to share, “My Story”. A few background things before I tell my story (First off, I’m horrible at writing and suck at telling stories but I hope that you will look past the awful grammar and find this post exciting and life changing).
I love adventure. I love to share life with others. I love my friend Yahweh. The mission statement for my life may read, “Seeking out the curiosity in my present world, while pursuing God’s will for my life, and waiting for the unexpected to show itself.”
I am in one word, _______________.
Well I don’t know…
Friends around me would say, “Max is being Max”. I can be totally irrelevant at times, random/uncontrollable, yet serious and wise (I don’t have a big head, I’m just saying what I observe and hear). I do listen, but I’m always thinking. There’s no off switch to this brain, or AC adapter to unplug. Just me in my thoughts, surrounded by millions of other people just like me striving to make since of it all. So, I do what I feel like I want to do.
I see things I want to do… and I do them. Of course there are boundaries that effect ones eternal soul, and I strive to stay away from those fences of temptation. However, to the boundaries and borders of this Earth, I freely explore. This summer I traveled over 14,000 miles around the world, from Winchester, KY to the mountainous regions of Yosemite, CA and even across the pond to London, England and everywhere in between. This is where I find my story.
In past years, I have worked for the sole purpose to save up money to travel around the United States with my good friends Andrew Newlun and Joseph Miller. It’s what we do. We see adventure, and we see life to be lived while encountering others on the way. It’s not the meaning to life it gives us, but it’s the result of the meaning of life that drives us to seek out adventure. Life is about people… life is about loving people… life is about loving God and loving people… Yes, Loving God therefore leads us to Love People. (Some may simply say, Love People and leave out the God part… I will respectfully but firmly disagree). Conclude ably, I believe that life is about the relationships we build while sharing the Truth to those around us.
So this is my story laid out from a-z, through my journey this summer, and where I found the God of my life, Yahweh, in the most unexpected places and times.
1. Louisville, KY – The Hand Meets Metal (Graphic)
So imagine a huge roll of photo paper roughly 100in long and 44in wide, an exacto blade and… my wrist… Yes, my wrist. Trust me it sucked. So I was cutting individuals photos out of the roll and I was moving too fast and oppsss… I stabbed my wrist.
Horrible I know, but however it didn’t hurt. It honestly felt like some punched me in the wrist bone. Of course now though I had blood running from my wrist. Afraid I cut a vein, I ran to my boss and calmly said, “Can we please go to the emergency room. I, ummm, stabbed myself on accident, and now I feel kind of faint.” So there we were running towards the hospital in his car. Ah man, was I feeling light headed. This whole time I was like why? My summer just started and now I’m going to have to have surgery… this sucks! However once we arrived the noticed that the blade barely missed the veins and hit the bone slicing into my muscle nerves.
The nerve was the ulnar nerve, or commonly known as the funny bone nerve. That’s right, I ended up cutting 80% of my nerve and could no longer move my pinky and ring finger. The follow up surgeon appointments would show that somehow the blade penetrated the nerve cutting barely into the sensory nerve and hitting the part that controls my hand muscles.
Man that was close I remember telling myself. What would happen if I did cut the veins? Would I still have reacted the same way, or would I still even be here today?
That sounds a little extreme, but I don’t doubt that could’ve been very well a possibility and I’m so thankful I had God looking after me. Still He was calling and catching my attention for some reason. After working, I saved up enough money to take a road trip and that is where I find God’s hand next.
2. Crater Lake, OR – What a Beautiful Day
What a beautiful trip it was. We saw many cities from Winchester, Ky., to St. Louis, Mo., some small town in Arkansas where my best friends sister lives, El Paso, Tx., Phoenix, Az., Yosemite National Park, Ca., San Francisco, Ca., and Cresent City, Ca. There were so many places we stopped in between it’s hard to count.
I must say first though that this story is by far my favorite of the summer.
Have you ever been to San Francisco? It is remarkably one of the coolest cities with its town homes, monuments, and of course its bridges. Man that Golden Gate Bridge was something else. Here is a picture.
I may be going out of order, but I’m just flowing as I remember it all.
Yosemite National Park. Takes about an hour getting to the valley pretty much, and another hour getting out. We had high hopes of traveling all over that place, but man was there a lot to see. I’m talking GIGANTIC scenery that went for miles and again only looked like someone painted it all. It’s so hard to believe that one Man did all this. I know he spoke it into existence, but for real, this place was amazing and nothing short of God given beauty.
We went hiking up to the falls and found a pretty sweet view of the entire park and were satisfied with what we had accomplished so we hiked back down and continued on with our trip.
Before we hit up Yosemite we stopped at place in Phoenix where one of my friends from Asbury lived. She put us up in her place for a night and it was nice to just chill from the road and swim in the pool. Phoenix was nice, but most definitely one large oasis in the middle of a desert.
Before Phoenix we were in El Paso, Tx., to see our good friend Monte. He’s stationed at a post there and we thought it would be nice to say hey. Boy was it hot. So hot my iPhone became overheated simply because the air temperature was ranged around 100 degrees… and we were stuck in traffic most of the time getting there from New Mexico. Oh, don’t even let me talk about New Mexico… dislike that place for sure, but I mean if your from there, I’ll respect where you come from, but all my experiences there, minus one, have been awful. I’m talking car stuck in mud for hours, thought we lost a friend in the woods, stinking hot, stinking cold, and just plain boring desert lands. Not a town for at least a hundred miles sometimes. Anyways to say the least, New Mexico… ehhh, but El Paso was still pretty fun. Shout out to Monte. El Paso was rough, but somebody has to live there.
Before El Paso was some town in Arkansas. Second time being in Arkansas, but first time liking it. So I guess I can say New Mexico may still have hope… Maybe. Anyways, we show up late at night, needing some rest after driving like 12hrs including a stop in St. Louis to see the arch of course. We roll up to the door, and Megan, his sister, half asleep, greets us and we crash hard… I’m out in like 45secs.
So the next day we go out with her friends and we go to some sweet BBQ place and go to minor league baseball game that team’s name just so happened to be called the Cardinals. Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, where we were just at the night before.
Sweet days for sure, but I think I have over stated the funtivities of the trip! So let’s talk about the title of this section. What a beautiful day.
So after a long night, of travel and sleeping at a rest stop we find ourselves leaving the California coast and heading into Oregon. What a beautiful coast. Check the picture. I’m talking humungous cliffs with crashing waves, boulders and rock formation sticking out of the water. Sweet, place to vacation. I love pine trees right, and they are everywhere. I feel as if it’s fall. What a great morning it was turning out to be.
So anyways, we traveling up the coast hitting small bay towns left and right. This is where we find this sweet song on the radio called, “Weakness” by Kris Allen. I mean Joseph’s girl was back home on the east coast and here we were cruising up the west. This song was perfect for him, and for me, I was like I just like the sick beat. The words were cool too of course, but they weren’t really relevant to my particular life then.
So were still cruising right, heading inland now towards Crater Lake. Weaving through trees, checking out the solid blue lakes, and awesome sky. I remember passing through some small town called, Chemult, Or., and I was like why in the world is this rinky-dink town here for, its so small it’s almost pointless. I’ll soon be thinking differently…
(Best to read the next few lines in slow motion to catch the full effect of what’s about to happen)
So were driving down this small two-lane road towards Crater Lake. Seven miles away now, and I can only imagine the beauty of this old historic volcanic lake and how sweet it’s going to be once we get there. But in front of us is this slow moving RV. I’m like, come on RV get out of the way. After a minute or two of being stuck behind it we go to over take it and pass it.
While pulling out to pass the thing, we’re hit from behind from a driver trying to pass four cars… with his boat…
We’re now in this tail spin to the left, then the right, back to the left, then to the right, and then finally to the left where we make contact with the gravel side of a ditch ravine into some trees crashing and possibly flipping into 30yds of shattered forest.
It went a little something like this… from my viewpoint after hitting the gravel I instantly tensed pressed against the middle console and door. Still unsure of what was happening I thought for a second, “Am I about to die.” Haha, then for some reason I didn’t hear a voice, but I knew I wasn’t going to die… then I hear trees cracking, no exploding, and then I open my eyes. Oh ps, I have a pair of Oakley Holbrooks on, and man was I happy at that moment. When I opened my eyes I saw brown dirt, dust, glass, and rocks flying everywhere. This is when I realized… I’m floating, what’s going on?! So I instantly curled up into my self, and covered my face and head. On raising my heads towards my face I feel the seatbelt snag, and that’s when the second thought came into my head. “Ahhh, sweet, I have my seat belt on.” Couldn’t have been happier in that one moment then any other. It reminded me of the drop zone at Kings Island. When you’re in the seat, and then your being held in by the restraints acting against gravity. Yeah, just like that. Then all of a sudden I slam back into my seat, and we’ve stopped.
The car is now parked up on a tree chilling facing the opposite direction we were going.
My initial thought after and spoken words were, “Joseph, you alright.” I heard a yeah man, and then I bounced from the car. Have you seen movies where the car randomly explodes after impact, that was the picture I had in my mind, but sure enough I wasn’t sitting around to find out if that was true.
But after I bounced out I realized the engine was still running, so I hopped back in and threw it into park and turn the ignition off.
Secondly, I went to the battery, and yanked it out just as the car started to smoke.
Thank goodness for all those car commercials describing wrecks, because I wouldn’t have had a clue on what to do. My heart was racing… so I stopped and that’s when I noticed people standing around the car just staring at me. So what did I do?
Represented Christ is what I did. Man I can’t even describe the feeling I felt when I said what I’m about to tell you. All I know is that I lost all mobility of my mouth, and I just let them hear some good news for a minute. I said, “Thank you all for coming over, and I have no clue why any of you are here, but I want you to know something. You see my friend and I are Christians, and we’ve been praying everyday before we drive off that God would protect us. I’m not saying this because I’m a Christian. I’m saying it because it’s true, and look at us… Not even a scratch. God answers prayers.” After I finished the crowd must have thought I was high, or something else, because they were just staring me down. But hey, I let them know. God saved our lives that day.
But the story is not over yet. We’re still Oregon.
So the tow truck comes to pick us up. I’m thinking in my head, where are we going from here? Are we flying home… where’s the money going to come from? Oh my gosh this is about to get crazy. So were driving back towards the way we came, and that’s when I asked, hey sir, where are we going? He replied, “Chemult”.
That’s the town I was given grief about earlier… and in my head I was like, ha, what are the odds. So I asked him, well where is the nearest airport? Expecting a, oh about five miles down the road… nope, try two hours. By this time Joseph and I are just dumbfounded for the situation that were now in. I at first was like, well I guess we can walk and leave all our stuff here. But God had a different plan for us.
So we show up in Chemult, and I mean this place was small. We get out of the truck and right next to the tow truck place was a blue building that looked like a church, and then I was like, “Dude, Mill. A church. They can help us!?” Man, was I excited. I’ve never had to ask for help from a church before. Always been in one, but never needed real help until now.
So after a long ordeal we square away payment for the tow and say goodbye to my car. Picture this (I would have a photo from this, but my phone broke during the wreck) a sunset in a junkyard, that is in a valley surrounded by mountains, and right in front of the gleaming sunrays sits my 2002 black Chevy cavalier, all mangled up. The car is wrecked from inside out. Just sitting there all by itself… so what do I do, I wave goodbye to it and I have a moment with my car. “See ya car,” I remember saying to myself. I hated but loved that car.
Anyways, back to the church we go, and just outside we find the pastor. We’re like hello sir, still holding all our stuff, do you think we could stay here tonight. We filled him in on what just happened to us and who we were and he said yes and showed us out back to his old RV that looked like it had been sitting there for years. I mean were getting the hook up right?! That’s not all. We mention that we have to fly out and he offers to gives us a ride to the airport the next day after the service. So I’m like swwwweeettt, man this is awesome. This guy is God given. Then were like awww man, what about our stuff. You see we traveled with clothing baskets as bags, because we had no need for external traveling. We simply lived out of the car. So then the guy says, well were having a yard sale this next week and we have tons of old suite cases were willing to donate for you guys to fly back… OH MY GOSH?!?! Really? Are we in a movie, maybe, I haven’t really decided that yet for my life.
I mean, we needed a place to stay we got one. We needed a ride and we got one. We needed suite cases and we got them too. Now we only needed to check for plane ticket prices. We get online to see that the plane tickets are just under $600 a piece and there was a flight leaving the next day. We have just enough money each to return home… You see we budgeted $1,000 for the trip each, and by the time we made it there we had spent $400 each. Crazy right?! I know, God working yet again.
So we talk with the guy all night after settling in and find out that he was called to Oregon to minister to local truck drivers through his small church and his mobile trailer church he constructed himself. This guy had so much commitment and love for God it really blew my mind. He is in the middle of nowhere, oh and before we got there we were the first visitors in six weeks, preaching to his wife basicly. I honestly didn’t know how to take it all in when I was sitting there in his living room listening to him talk. I was like, really God, you put him here for this? What were you doing with his life, what were you doing in my life?
Well we concluded the night, and the next day after church he took us up to Redmond, Or., where we got on our plane and flew home. But before we left he prayed for us. He prayed that whatever God had for us in life that we would glorify Him in everything we did. We told him thanks, and they drove off just like that.
It’s funny to believe that God always puts people in our lives to be there for us and to share wisdom, knowledge, and to take care of us. This story is a perfect example of how God uses others and you never know what will happen when you’re in God’s hands.
3. The Summer Has Only Begun
-As soon as we return home I call up my friend, Jason Epperson. I said, hey man I need a job. Do you have one? He said yes sir, and then I was off editing with him, and his two friends, Tim and Steve Bates, who are brothers working on a documentary about UK fans, and how they have a “Krazy Love Story” for the game of basketball. Getting some professional experience finally! Sweet awesome! Next…
-I welcomed home my friend who I’ve been waiting forever to see. You see I’ve asked her out twice before, and she’s respectfully declined because she was being pursued by other guys, but this time, I just survived a wreck so I had my confidence tuned to super swag, and I wasn’t backing down. Funny really because the first night we saw each other again, we connected and I noticed a difference in her attitude towards me. So I was like sweet, I like this. Solid conversation continued, and everything that happened after really caught me off guard. I mean I have high hopes, and it wasn’t the fact that I thought she was too good for me; it was just that I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for so long that it was hard to comprehend what she was saying, and how it corresponded with what I was saying. I remember describing it as something only the Holy Spirit could be working up. So I did the only thing I knew what to do, and that was to start praying for whatever God was doing with us two, and what His will was for us was. So weeks continued, and feelings grew. So much so, that I realized that if I even wanted to pursue this Godly woman, I would need to pursue God with an even greater passion that I would her. Anyways it’s been a couple months now and the relationship is still pending, because she has left the country again, but when and if the time is right… we’ll have to see what God has in store for us both.
I think this is a really good spot to talk about relationships with others around us, and how God wants us to live our lives searching for them to share the truth. You see that’s what God truly wants with us, a relationship. If you look at Christ, and his ministry, yes he came to be the savior of this world, but how did he do it? He did it by building relationships with the people around him in his world caring for them. God sent his son to save us from hell, yes, but I do not believe that’s how he wants our minds to be focused. I believe he wants our minds to be focused on the hell around us, and the people suffering in it. He wants us to be fishers of men, who seek out others in need, and share life with them, showing them love, while telling them about the great gift of salvation that we have as Christians. Respect them for who they are, where they come from, and help them. Then lead and instruct them to the truth and salvation. (I’m speaking to myself on this one too. No one’s perfect.)
Having this girl in my life has made me really take a hard look at my relationship with God and others around me. If my relationship is more detailed with her than with God, something is seriously wrong. So consciously I decided that to be a better man not only for her, but for every relationship around me I would need to pursue God with all of my being. I remember in prayer one day, saying that I better not be doing this only to receive a blessing from God, and after I said that I felt a reassuring peace that I was most definitely doing the right thing. Since that moment I’ve felt the Holy Spirit melting the inside of me to reform my old ways and thoughts, creating new ways of thinking.
I tell you what, there is no feeling in the world greater than praying consistently twice a day and seeking God passionately in his word.
I try my best to remember everything I read, and learn… but it’s not all about what I obtain, but it’s about how I’m forming a relationship with God seeking after Him. In relationships we’re never perfect, we can’t remember everything about the other persons likes and dislikes, but we do remember what matters. For me, with God, it’s my continual daily perseverance to seek Him and His will in my life. As well the understanding of how I should build relationships around me by pouring out God’s love, that He’s poured into me.
All right, I’ll talk a little more later about relationships and how God can use them to further his kingdom. But let’s move on to the bigger part of my summer.
4. 2012 Summer Olympics
So to keep this short, yes, I went to London, England this summer, and met some amazing people! Some were from Australia, Africa, Greece, Slovakia, Japan, and Great Britain. Super blessed to have worked with so many professionals, and friends.
My job wasn’t a glamorous one, but it was still fun nonetheless. It did get boring some days though. I was a runner, aka a do this, and go do that person, and I loved it. I got to interact with so many people, and had the opportunity to make them happy. One day I would create meal tickets for the camera crews and the next I was inside the venue occupying empty seats, or running errands into the city fetching last minute items for production. But it was really all about doing my work, and doing it well so that whomever was asking something of me they could tell I was working hard to please them.
I used to work at a movie theater, and I remember the answer to a question a friend asked about why I loved working there. It was simply because when I pushed that start button on the projector to play the movie, I knew that the people down below were going to be happy with entertainment. I may have not have created the film, but I did have a helping hand in making them smile. It was something simple that even brought a smile to my face. If they were happy, I was happy. I still continue that today.
Anyways, that’s what I planned to do for the people I worked with in London. Of course there were days that I wasn’t feeling good, but most days I was sharing some light.
And one day, they asked a question.
It was a simple question of, “Max, do you pray”, but it turned into a five to ten minute discussion on faith, and what I believed in. I told Jason, Slavi, and one other Gareth, that it wasn’t about being religious, but it was about following Christ, and understanding who he was in relation to God. Of course they, respected what I had to say, as I did when they responded, but I was happy that I could even sow a seed into each of their lives. They may have not accepted Christ there, but they were noticing my actions for sure. They told me they were, and that that’s why they liked hanging out with me. Even through the culture barriers God can speak truth through actions, love it!
I prayed for those guys nightly, just only waiting, and hoping for another chance to speak to them, but it didn’t happen. So I hope wherever you guys are at, loving life, that somehow God is speaking truth to you.
For me that is pretty much it for London, I’ll post some pictures below, but everyday was the same just different date.
5. The End
Well that’s it pretty much it in a nutshell. So much more happened, but they were small events, and I don’t think you would understand. Sometimes I don’t even understand. To sum it all up though, this summer of 2012 was by far the summer of my life. I may say that again in the future, but this one will be hard to beat for years to come.
So there you have it. From a-z, somewhat… maybe because I just realized it’s taken me three weeks to type this, and if I don’t finish here and post it… I probably won’t ever! Ha.
Well I hope that through My Story of this summer some how you can see how God was working in my life, and how on numerous accounts He was there to help me. He may not always seem like He’s there, but He is.
Praise be to God for what He has done, and what He will continue to do.
Thanks for an unforgettable summer God.