by David Fontanez
There is so much truth to the statement, “I wish I knew then, what I know now.” We all learn things at different speeds, but we often think back to our younger days and wonder how much further in life we could have come or how much trouble we could have avoided. Some of us learn easily, but people, like me, tend to learn the hard way. To be completely honest, learning the “hard way” often involves one of those moments of realizing “my parents were right” or “I should have listened to my parents.”
I was raised as a Christian boy. I was taught about the love of God and His will for my life. For a long time, I was actively involved in the church and served in different ministries. But like many teenage boys, I allowed myself to be influenced by the things of the world, and I fell away from God. At age 15 I became rebellious. Often times I was disrespectful, mostly to my mother, who made every effort to guide me back to the path for which she knew I was destined. But I felt I was too far lost.
As time passed, I went on ignoring the call of God on my life. I was focused on material things: fancy cars and late nights partying and hanging out with the wrong crowds. I remembered who God was and still believed in Him, but whenever I got myself into trouble, I blamed Him for my circumstances. I expected Him to fix all my problems when I was the one who had turned my back on Him. I hurt a lot of good people including my parents. I did a lot of things of which I am not proud. I was living in sin and found myself in bad relationships over and over again. I experimented with drugs. I became a father before I was ready, and my relationships always failed.
Then one day, the worst thing happened. I was arrested and taken to jail. I was completely broken in that moment. In my cell the negative thoughts consumed me. I had lost my job, my home, I couldn’t see my kids, but most of all I felt completely lost. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I even contemplated suicide as I sat there drowning in tears of regret and shame, wishing I had taken my mom’s advice and changed my ways.
God has a way of using our most broken circumstances to bring us to a defining moment. During my jail experience, I was reminded of who I was meant to be in Christ. I was reminded that I had two little girls who needed me. God even sent a good friend of my mother’s (Denise Ridley) to visit me in jail with a message: “I see you, I love you and I have plans for you.” It was written on the bottom of the paper she handed me that had several verses on it about God’s love.
From that moment I knew what I had to do. It was a long road back home. It was a difficult process of fixing years of mistakes and seeking deliverance from bondages and chains that I had gathered on the road of rebellion. But I had a lot of help and support from my amazing mother (Heidy Fontanez) and my pastors (Revs. Eliezer and Cindy Garcia) who welcomed me with open arms and guided me back to where I needed to be – closer to God than ever before.
Today I am happily married to a wonderful woman of God. We serve together in different ministries at a humble and growing church in Springfield called CCRN Massachusetts (Christian Community Restoration for the Nations). I have four beautiful daughters who light up my life and shower me with love. I have a great job that I enjoy, and God is in the center of everything we do. I’m genuinely happy and tremendously blessed. I owe it all to my Good Father in heaven who, despite my flaws, my imperfections, disloyalty, sin and shame welcomed me back to His Kingdom as if I had never left. Thank you, Jesus, my Savior and my Redeemer! Thank you to my mom for never giving up on me. Thank you to my pastors for investing their time and pouring their wisdom and knowledge into my life. “I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.” (Luke 15:24) It’s amazing what God can do when He comes into a young man’s life and says, “I’m not done with you yet.”
If you are a prodigal or struggling in your walk, do not give up hope. Trust in the Lord, trust in His plan, and may His will be done in His perfect timing in your life. I leave you with this verse: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
David Fontanez lives in Springfield and is married. He and his wife have four beautiful daughters. They are both members of the church they attend and are involved in ministry. As a young boy David was involved in Junior Bible Quiz, which is a ministry of memorizing scripture for students. Those verses would rise up within him from time to time to remind him of God’s love. A verse that helped him through his journey was out of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on you own understanding, in all you ways submit to him and he will make your path straight.” David loves working on cars and spending time with his family.
David’s mother Heidy Fontanez assists in administering a closed Facebook group for Moms of Adult Prodigals, a ministry of Women of the Word. To learn more about H.O.P.E. for Moms of Prodigals click here.