GOD IS MY SHIELD
 

By: Thomas (Tommy) Martin McGouey

OVERVIEW

I was earning a large salary - but there was an aching void within which I could not fill.  There had to be more to life that just making money and pursuing a career.  Years of pain brought me to the moment when I felt suicide seemed to be the only way out of my mental anguish.  Literally - I painted a bull's eye on myself and called the police.  I wanted them to take my life.  As they were forced to take me down while firing their weapons at me, I came to see in an amazing way what the Bible means when it says,  "The Lord is my shield."
 

 

TRYING TO FILL THE VOID

 
I was financially stable.  I was deeply rooted in Corporate America as an Administrator of two Respiratory Care Departments.  I was a working professional in the medical field with 20 years of experience at two New York hospital centers.  I had all the material possessions that many people seek after.  All the bells and whistles that the secular world strives for, as least I thought so at the time, and to top it off ... a caring relationship with a great lady by the name of Connie ... a wonderful, loving and caring soul mate of mine that I had searched so long for.

Yet there was something missing in my life – a void – an aching – hollowness – a lack of completeness – a lack of meaningful purpose for my existence - that I just could not find or fill, no matter how hard, or what I tried.  

 
Material possessions, drugs, alcohol, switching relationships – these pursuits would not satisfy me for any length of time.   They always left me coming up short.  Nothing could make me feel complete.
 
I did not even understand at the time that my life needed "eternal purpose."  I thought I had achieved my purpose – after all, I had succeeded at the “Great American Dream.” 
 
I thought life was just about having fun and about meeting my needs.  As much as Connie pleaded with me to stop my destructive behavior, I couldn't.  Connie cared so much for me, but couldn't watch me kill myself one drink at a time.  I was so blind to it all.  I robbed her of health and peace.  I was so selfish and self-seeking and ended up hurting the very one who meant the world to me.  I loved Connie and she loved me, but I did not love myself enough to change.  Something drastic was about to happen.
 
The darkness in my soul seemed to grow and I watched it overpower me.  With this - and a combination of alcohol and a bankrupt spirit - I turned away from the last positive thing in my life, and I decided that death was the only answer for me -- the only way to escape the despair I was in –- to hopefully end my pain, and the pain I was causing those who loved me most.
 
I devised a plan.  A fool-proof plan that would be successful to its very ending.  I examined it thoroughly -- inside out, forwards and backwards.  A “perfect” suicide, my darkened mind rationalized.   A blaze of glory, so I thought. 
 
I would set the stage during the time when the fewest amount of innocent people would be walking around to possibly get hurt.  (One o'clock in the morning, to be exact).  I planned the location where this would occur.  I knew where the police would be firing from --  a backdrop of an embankment.  I was in sort of soup bowl.  I didn't want any stray bullets possibly harming anyone else.  No one was to be hurt here except for myself.  The stage was finally set for my final exit. 
 

ATTEMPTED SUICIDE BY A POLICEMAN’S BULLET

 

I phoned the police by calling 911.  I said, "There is a crazy guy running around the complex with a gun."  I was living in West Knoxville at the time, and had mapped out my plan in the field out in front of the apartment complex.

 

On that fateful night of September 16, 2003, I painted a bull's-eye on my chest.  My purpose for doing so was to send a message that would inform my sister that this was a planned suicide.  I did not notify anyone of what I was about to do.  No last minute phone calls.  This was not a cry for help.  I was prepared to die.

When the police arrived, I was gazing straight up at the sky, transfixed on this one lone star in the cold dark sky.  I prayed upon that star with all my heart.  I prayed that this ordeal would be over quickly and as painlessly as possible.  I also prayed that Connie and my sister Kathy would forgive me for what I was about to do.  Then I asked God for forgiveness.

 

THE LORD WAS MY SHIELD

 
The police arrived as expected.   With all the noise of bullhorns and shouting going on - the flashlights pointed in my direction - I was blinded by their glaring lights.  It was pretty surreal.  My heart was pounding, but there was no turning back now. 
 
I had an unloaded BB-gun tucked behind me beneath my belt, and I started walking toward the police officers.  They started yelling at me to stop.  The life-and-death tension was building to an insane crescendo.   It was time to force them to shoot.  It was time to reach for my BB pistol.   My plan was about to be fully executed.
 
When I reached for the pistol … six officers shot at me.   They shot a combined total of 28 times, yet only one bullet hit me!   It hit me with such force that it knocked me off my feet.  
 
Lying there on the ground waiting to die - blood everywhere - I knew my miserable life was going to be over shortly.  Everything was a hazy blur after that. 
 
I have nothing but praise and appreciation for the police department and the officers present that night.  I always have. They were placed in a situation that gave them no other choice but to shoot me.   They had no clue at the time that I was using them to take my life. 
 
Since then, people have asked, “How could all the other 27 bullets have missed you?!”
 
I have heard all the explanations:  “Poor shooting skills; luck; lighting; nerves; coincidence … other rationalities. 
 
No one can convince me otherwise or ever will: I know the Lord was standing in front of me that night protecting me … shielding me, and forgiving me, when I could not forgive myself.  
 
What I didn’t realize until later is that I need to be fully born again of God’s Spirit.  I needed to have a divine connection with the Creator of the universe.  I needed a personal encounter with the living God.  God did not inspire my plan to destroy myself, but in his infinite compassion and mercy, He chose to use it to manifest Himself to me in a way that still leaves me dazed sometimes, when I think back about it. 
 
God heard my prayer when I gazed at that star, but He knew that I needed more than just forgiveness for trying to destroy the life He had given me.  He knew that if He allowed me to die … my anguish would last for all eternity.  Death would not have been the end of my anguish … literally only it’s very beginning.   
 
Not only did God spare me from the hell of eternal anguish I was about to enter into with no turning back … He also had a purpose in store for me.  I just didn’t realize it then.  He had work for me to do to help build His Kingdom in the lives and hearts of other people, being a useful vessel He could use to help snatch others like myself out of the kingdom of darkness and spiritual pain - the devil’s kingdom - and it would change me and my life forever.  He truly is my shield!
 

PRISON – A TIME OF REFLECTION

 
I was convicted (rightfully so), and spent the next 16 months in jail for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
 
I was in the penal farm for a long time, and this gave me much time to reflect on my life.  My poor decision making - the people I hurt - my reason for living … I had a lot of time to reflect on all these things.
 
It was there in my prison cell that God began to do some deep emotional surgery on me.  It was there that the Spirit of the living God began to draw me to Jesus Christ in a way I had never known.   It was there that a personal relationship with my heavenly Father started coming together.   It was there that He redeemed me – causing me to be spiritually born again as (John 3:3) speaks of – uniting me fully with Him because of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as payment for the penalty of all my sins.   It was there that I was snatched out of the kingdom of darkness that I didn’t even know I was in … and was translated to the Kingdom of the living God – the Kingdom of everlasting Light and Truth.   
 
It took three months for my bullet wound to heal.  I think back often to where the apostle Paul asked God to have his thorn removed from him.  (See: 2 Corinthians, Chapter 12).   “My Grace is sufficient for thee” was God’s reply.  God did not remove it.
 
I’ve come to realize that God still allows “thorns” to one degree or another in His followers, to teach us mysteries of His grace, and to teach us to rely on Him in ways we wouldn’t do otherwise.  Each of us have our "daily cross to carry" in one form or another, and some people have much heavier crosses to carry than others it would seem, at different times in their journey with the Lord.  To the human mind, it makes no logical sense, but since when has God ever used our “human logic” to make His ways known to us – to lighten the path that takes us to a meaningful personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ?  My “human logic” expressed itself by trying to destroy my life.  It took God’s grace to not only spare my life, but to find the correct path to where real life can only be found.   See: (John 10:10) for understanding.   
 
Today … when the bullet fragments that are still embedded in my shoulder hit a nerve junction and pain shoots throughout parts of my body … often I have asked God the same question:  “Will you please remove this pain?”  I know He can.  Yet the only thing I’m left with, though it makes little earthly sense … I too must believe: “His grace is sufficient for me.”   With that grace comes the strength to endure the pain and keep on doing what I know God wants me to do … despite the pain. 
 
I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I think I am - in any way, shape or fashion – an apostle Paul!   I’m just trying to say that the bullet fragments that remain in my shoulder are a constant reminder of the darkness I was redeemed from and the pain brings victory to me.
 
God answered the prayer of a sinner when I was at my lowest point … when I finally humbled myself enough and was prepared to surrender my whole life to him … totally … then changes in my spiritual life exploded.  He became my focus, and my self-seeking ended.   I came to realize that when we live only for ourselves; live only to satisfy ourselves; live only for selfish pleasure to seek our happiness . . . it is impossible to connect with the God the apostle Paul met.  It is when we choose to live fully for the Lord  -- that’s when we are in proper position to discover what true living is all about.  Everything else is just a counterfeit – spiritual darkness – self-deception … the same spiritual darkness the apostle Paul was in … thinking he was fine with God … and didn’t even have a clue how deceived he truly was … until he got struck down too.   It was by the mercy and grace of God that he too was struck down, so that he could see just how fully lost spiritually and deceived he truly was. 
 
Since then I have been convicted by His Spirit to help other people in need to one degree or another.   He “recruited” me into His Kingdom, and now He has given me a chance to “recruit others” into His Kingdom.   What a blessing it has been, to have such an eternal purpose!  It has given me such joy and peace.   It truly has filled that void I sought to have filled in my soul.  God truly granted the desire of my heart … to have that void filled. 
 
Trying to help others connect properly with the living God (not the counterfeit ways the devil has flooded the world with) actually started while I was still in jail.  I sought to guide others spiritually with the tools that God gave me.  I did the best I knew to do with what I had.  Many called (and call) it “Jailhouse Christianity,” and although some might try to hide behind it for personal, selfish gain at the time, that wasn’t my case.   My conversion was the real deal.  I was given the truth from God, and the truth set me free even behind bars in that 10’ x 8’ cell, as John 8:32 promises the truth will do (to those who are totally and humbly sincere with Jesus Christ, of course).   
 
While in jail, I was blessed to meet my spiritual mentor and precious friend, Bobby Peak (he was with a visiting jail ministry) and since have had a wonderful relationship with Bobby and his family.
 
I attend church at (Redemption Church International), Pastors Ed and Nora King's ministry, Wednesdays and Sundays with the Peaks.   I consider them family. I am privileged each church service with passing out the MENTOS (“Church Candy” as I lovingly call them).  They get passed down the row during the service.  'They are minty fresh," and the young people especially like them.   (Anyone interested in knowing more about my church can go to their website:  www.redemptionchurch.com )
 
The Lord had placed it upon my heart to look into a faith-based Christian halfway house named Peace At Last Ministry.  From the moment I walked through the front door, I knew one way or the other that I would be a servant with this ministry.  Since graduating from their six-month discipleship training course, my life has been a wonderful spiritual journey, being filled with a spirit of forgiveness and love.  Working with John Wampler (founder) and counselor, and Vicki Wilkerson (counselor), the wonderful staff that have helped me hone the gifts the Lord has blessed me with to use to minister his grace and mercy to others.   I have found my place in serving God down here on this planet as I write this testimony,  and am so thankful to God for it. 

Anyone interested in knowing more about the Peace At Last Ministry can go to their website:  http://www.peacelast.net   (Further updates to the website will be coming shortly)

 
Many well-meaning people and institutions try to blame today’s problematic behaviors on society.  Anger, addiction, dysfunctional family life, environment, etc., are only surface problems or manifestations of something unrecognized by most of the authorities that are paid (or volunteer without pay) to try to solve the difficult issues every society and nation faces.  
 
It’s my own opinion that all these problems can be traced to an unfulfilled life without God’s purpose or plans for our lives based on the Holy Bible.  We all know that there are people, who just like the apostle Paul, would destroy every Christian believer on the face of this planet, and truly believe in their heart’s they are serving “God’s purpose,” and they certainly believe with all their heart’s that they are fulfilling their life purpose.   Obviously they are deceived in which God they truly are serving, because the Bible clearly tells us that on this planet, we either serve Satan, the devil, or we serve Jesus Christ.  There are no other options, just two.  When we serve only ourselves – our own pursuit of happiness and pleasure as I did – we are serving Satan’s deception and haven’t discovered it yet.   One doesn’t understand this until they have met the God who created Satan and all things, and sometimes they are not ready to serve the real God until they are “struck down” just like I had to be.  Hopefully not with a bullet … but I’m sure I wasn’t the first, nor will I be the last!
 
Until this is realized and addressed, very little will be resolved in society.   Everything will just be “band-aid” fixes.   It takes the full grace of God to address the ills of this world, and those ills will not be fully dealt with, the Bible tells us, until Jesus Christ returns to subdue fully the powers of darkness that control most of the masses. 

CONCLUSION - THE WORK BEGINS

 
I write this testimony for the sole purpose in hoping God might use it to help someone else discover God’s grace and love, to the Glory of God my Father.  I pray they might turn from their own darkness to the Light of Christ.  
 
By the way, I have never been “richer” in my entire life.  Materialism and pursuits of happiness and pleasure are no longer my focus.  The “Word”  (The Holy Bible, for those who may not be familiar with the term “Word”) is my compass, and I shall follow it forever until I can hear the words from the One who died for me say, “Good job my faithful servant.  Many missions accomplished!  Welcome Home!
 
As of today, I have sought to heal and restore fractured relationships of those I may have hurt from the past.  I have made life-long friendships with my Mentor  and his family; I work in a loving Christian environment.  I have Joy.  I have purpose, and I have Peace at Last.  I pray you find all this also.  It’s available, I assure you.
 
Feel free to contact me by emailing me if you would like to place a prayer request with the ministry, or just want to fellowship with a “Sinner saved by Grace,” or learn about the ministry Peace At Last Ministry and its needs.  I can be E-mailed at: tomredeemed@yahoo.com 
 
I want to leave you with this:
 

ENOUGH

 
    I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
    I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
    I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
    I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear bigger.
    I wish you God’s Grace.

    I pray he becomes your shield

 
May God spread his blessings upon you, your family and friends today, and forever.
 

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God?  If not, you can be.  Do you know what awaits you when you die?  You can have the assurance from the Holy Spirit that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain.  Either Jesus Christ died for yours sins, or He didn't (and He did!).  Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to cover your sins?  We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.

To be at peace with God; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God.  What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, dear one.  Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life. 


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