Today, Mark Futral is one of the most involved members of NorthStar Church, serving in Missions and on our Guest Services team. But, it hasn’t always been that way. Mark and his family have traveled through some difficult terrain, and he personally hit rock bottom before he encountered the Lord in a most unexpected way. Mark shares the story of how God intersected his life through a business relationship, and how that led to much-needed healing for his marriage and family.
I grew up in a religious family, but during my upbringing, I never had a personal relationship with the Lord. I’m thankful for the example of my parents’ faith, however, and it paid off a few years ago.
My wife, Heather, and I hit a very rocky patch in life; my business was failing, bills were hard to pay, we had three very young kids, and life just didn’t seem to be going our way. Instead of facing the problems head-on, we tried to hide from them in other ways- mainly drugs and alcohol abuse. All this did was amplify the issues that we were facing. Suddenly, we became addicts and life fell apart very quickly. Consequently, we began having marital issues, our children were missing so much school that the government wanted to intervene in our lives, and friends and family couldn’t trust a word we said. It was a very very dark chapter of our lives.
But I thank God that my parents had taught me about prayer and faith as a child because deep in my darkness there was still a tiny flicker of light shining. When we were in the depths of misery as a couple, I would still pray that God would somehow intervene in our lives and do something to pull us out of our despair.
I still remember vividly the day my prayer was answered. Heather and I had a rough weekend; I remember it being filled with tension, hatred, and drugs. I remember sleeping in my car because Heather didn’t want me in the house. I remember praying again that God would somehow intervene and take this pain out of my heart.
The following Monday I went to a client’s house to make a delivery. I owned a fitness equipment company at the time. Gary was my client’s name. As Gary and I began to talk, I think he could sense that something was wrong with me. Before I knew it he was recounting to me his life story and how he almost lost his job, his wife, and his family because of his addiction to alcohol. He testified to me that it was nothing less than his own faith in God that pulled him out of the depths of hell’s grip.
Suddenly, I found myself opening up to him and sharing my situation. I explained the struggles with addiction that I was battling. And then the most amazing thing happened; this man that was barely more than a stranger to me reached out and hugged me with more sincerity than I could recount feeling in quite some time. I suddenly felt God’s grace pouring over my life. I knew at that moment this was God answering my prayer and intersecting my life. Gary explained if I would put my trust in God this would be taken from my life. I knew at that moment this burden was being lifted from me. I had been told this before, but I wasn’t prepared to hear it. Yet this time it came over me in an inexplicable way. I could not deny this was an answer to the prayer that I had prayed out loud over and over during this season of our lives.
It took a lot of work to clean up our marriage, our family, and our friendships. We still pay the price financially for the poor choices that we made. But neither Heather nor I have EVER had a stronger testimony of the saving grace of our God. We have never felt as peaceful as we feel now. And once you see the power this redemption can have, it is very hard not to look for others that are searching for that same grace we prayed so hard to find.
I am thankful that Gary was a man of God and was led by the Holy Spirit to share his situation with me. If he had not been prompted to share with me that day, there is no predicting what my life would have been, or where my life could’ve gone. I make it my goal to be walking with God daily so that I can be prepared to share the story of God’s grace to someone that is starving to hear it.