I hated the unknown, trying to figure out how to pay my rent, car payments, and meals with only a part-time job. Every day was an unknown for me, and I definitely lived by faith with my finances. I’d only work two days some weeks, and then other weeks with no work.

I had to figure out how to stretch my money to each next paycheck.

Luckily, I had friends who saw my struggles and did something about it, especially a best friend of mine. As I’ve written before, our relationship was like a David and Jonathan friendship; we were very close, loved having God-talks, and hung out almost every day.

Of course, my best friend had his life while I struggled with mine. But whenever we hung out I knew everything would be fine.

Even though I hated asking for help, especially for money, I was very grateful for my best friend because he did help me out financially. He was the type of person who helped others without reason, never asking for anything in return.

He was a good kid, and I loved him dearly for that.

While I dealt with all this financial stuff, my best friend told me he was going to Passion Conference in Atlanta, and it had always been my dream to attend one year.

Of course, my best friend being him, he asked if I wanted to join! He surprised me by buying both my Passion ticket and my plane ticket!

I tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t have any of it.

As fall turned to winter and the year came to an end, I held onto hope and looked forward to this trip. Still working part-time with very little money, that winter colder than usual, I needed to get out of my situation. For a little while, at least.

The holidays came and went, and I pressed pause on my life to listen to what God wanted to teach me at this conference. I flew to Atlanta, excited to get out of my southwestern city and relax in a new city I’d never seen.

Upon arriving in Atlanta, I met up with another blogger and gave him a big hug! We hadn’t seen each other since our YOB retreat the previous year, and it was so good to see a familiar face.

Unbeknownst to us, another blogger was also in attendance! We all met up after the first night to talk, and it was a long night for all of us.

My best friend saw a glimpse of our lives. There was nothing special about us: we were just three guys wanting to live like Christ, listening to what He had to say to us, and doing our best to live out what He wanted for us.

Looking back, God definitely used that conference to prepare me for the trials that would come in the year ahead.

Unfortunately at the time, I was too distracted by my participation at the conference and seeing the guys from this blog, in awe that my best friend was there to provide and experience this whole thing with me.

The messages hit me in the head but would only slowly hit me in the heart as the year progressed.

I never would have anticipated the lasting effects of those messages as my trial got harder and things got even worse: a foundation and cornerstone I’d hold onto, that would keep me together, even during the hardest times.

At the end of this series, I’ll discuss what I learned and what exactly God spoke to me, using these messages from Passion as the theme of my year.

By the end of the conference, I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. Like I could take on the world and face life’s darkest troubles. All the messages were so powerful and challenging, like God had opened my heart for a heart and soul operation.

My best friend and I returned home to New Mexico, so pumped by what God had spoken to us at the conference. I thought this would strengthen our friendship in the months to come.

As I said before, little did I know what was in store for me. This would be the tipping point of all things good, slipping me into despair.

Have you ever felt some experience trained you for a future trial? What did you experience, or what did you hear God telling you? What trial did you face, and how did you face it?

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