Following is an interview with Bill Stark sharing his faith journey over the years.
How did you come to know God in a personal way?
I grew up in the church and at a young age accepted Jesus as my savior. I probably heard the gospel message of Christ 1,000 times by the time I was 13 years old, so I was fortunate to know at an early age that I was a sinner and needed salvation.
What things kept you from taking that step to want to know God personally?
Fear of being embarrassed. Later in life it was fear of giving up something I thought was special or giving up some sin that I liked! Moving toward God required me to give up and surrender and trust that his ways were better than mine.
How did your growing up environment help or hinder your knowing God personally or put another way, what struggles did you face in your quest for true happiness?
My parents laid a great foundation for me and my siblings. They were great loving people and we were made aware of God at a young age. I don’t remember ever being taught about the heart of God, His love for me personally and how I can have a daily journey with Him…and how he could guide my very life. I was taught stories about God but they never clicked in a personal way for me, to know Him. I was blessed to be a Christian, but somehow blocked or missed out on the message of His intense love for me personally.
After you became a Christian what held you back from really growing spiritually?
I wanted the “things of this earth” really badly. I wanted to have fame, money and recognition and a lot of material things. Selfish desires but also, sins I held on to. I wanted to fit in with the world and I felt like “selling out” to God would make me look weird and hurt my career or my position with others. In reality the opposite is true. The more I give up to God, the more positive influence I have with others.
What things helped spur your faith forward?
I spent time with men who had a deeper faith than me. I listened to CDs and messages from spiritual leaders. But mainly pain pushed me forward. One summer back in 2003 we experienced some deep hurts and issues that forced me to turn to God in TOTAL submission….that was the turning point for me in having a deeper walk with God. I was at the end of my rope and came face to face with the fact that I could not control outcomes and that I could not produce the kind of lasting happiness I so wanted. Attending a spiritual weekend retreat, Tres Dias, really helped me learn to receive His love. Since 2008, the ministry of Cloud Walk has helped me to grow in my intimacy with God and I’ve been fortunate to participate with other strong men of faith at Souly Business (a men’s retreat ministry).
How do you experience God right now in your life?
I experience God each day in my prayer time. I experience Him in music, writing, while I’m driving in the car and I experience him in sharing my life with others. I sense his presence in nature. I experience God when I see others serving the needy. I sense God in the truths he sends my way….things that are too true to ignore.
How have those experiences shaped or changed your heart and your outlook on life?
My heart is more tender and more open to what is going on around me. I am more peaceful, more restful in my soul. I am happier. I look for and see places to serve others more easily. I share my faith more naturally as part of my overall life, versus some planned thing.
How do you stay connected with God?
Prayer, hanging out with godly men, meditating, reading his Bible, being really honest.
What areas of life tend try and thwart your relationship with God?
The ever busyness of life, the need to control everything, the need to be a person of power and ego, good things take away from the best…..I need less on my plate.
What do you think God wants to be for you now?
He wants to provide for me. This has to be what he wants because it’s also what I struggle to control….providing. He wants to show me that He loves me by providing for me while I float along on his quiet easy waters.
What is your prayer for yourself?
Seek rest, seek God’s divine hand, see God at work around you, don’t excessively strive for results and goals….just “be”.
What is the condition of your heart today?
I am happy and rested and energetic about what lies ahead. Peace.