'I had a heart attack at 17, wealth at 27 and was homeless at 28'

Scott’s story | Not what you expected

“I had a heart attack when I was 17. I’d been playing tennis at a high level … and I was in the Queensland Championships. After the match, I went home and I jumped into our backyard pool. My heart went into spasm and I woke up in the cardiac ward at Brisbane Hospital. It was full of old guys who were about to die. One of them said to me, ‘What are you doing here?’”

‘It gave me a new perspective on life. After 12 months, I was allowed to play tennis again … and I threw myself into everything. For the next ten years, I tried to be the best I could possibly be, in every part of life – in tennis, and in work. I got involved in a really successful company doing building design. I bought a house and an MG. I moved to Sydney to start up a Sydney branch. We were turning over six million dollars a year. It was ridiculous. I was only 27 years old and I had all that responsibility and stress. Eventually, it led to a mental and physical breakdown. I lost everything and I became homeless at age 28. I moved on to my mate’s lounge.

“I now think that God was trying to show me about certainty – that I was never in control, and I never had been, no matter how high I’d climbed the tree.

“A few months later, I started asking everyone I knew about the meaning of life. What did they believe in? Where was the book? How did they know? I was hungry for meaning.

“Then I met Janelle, through a friend. We went on a date, and I told her I was trying to figure out the meaning of life. She told me that she was a Christian and she invited me to church.

“I said, ‘No way, I’d never go to church. They’re a bunch of hypocrites.’

“We were very honest with each other. A few months later, she invited me to a carol sing-a-long. I went and afterwards, I talked to the minister … for two hours. I was getting all the answers I’d been hassling people for. He invited me to have lunch with him and we kept meeting, weekly. We became friends. Janelle went overseas. After a while, the minister and I started reading the Gospel of Mark together. But it didn’t really click. Then he asked me to do [evangelistic course] ‘Christianity Explained’. I said I wasn’t ready to make a commitment, but I went anyway.

“We got up to the page on condemnation. I can still remember it. There was a black and white line drawing of a group of people shunning their faces from the glory of God.

“Suddenly, I was an absolute, blubbering, out-of-control mess, on the floor. It happened in a split second. I was stripped bare before a holy God. It was an absolutely powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit. I became aware of my sin for the first time, and I totally understood the grace of God – the incredible mercy of God – that he should forgive me and save me, through Jesus. It was beautiful!

“Everything changed in an instant. The first verse I memorised was Philippians 4:6-7, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

“Before that, I’d always been anxious and striving. I couldn’t cope with uncertainty. But I read that verse and I prayed and I read the Bible (all the way through, twice!) And I felt peace, every time I prayed. It transcended understanding! And now, I love uncertainty. I can’t tell you what God has done since then. It’s been exponentially better than anything I could have imagined.

“Janelle and I got married. We had two kids and we went off to Cambodia, as missionaries. And now, even in tough times, uncertainty doesn’t faze me. I know that God is sovereign. And he’s got it!”

Scott’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

Bible verse Philippians 4 6 7

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