POTSC: unedited version

*This blog is the result of being asked to share my story on People of the Second Chance. What follows is the unedited version. Some of the content has been taken from previous blogs.

--> This is my confession.

Cheater. Liar. Manipulator. Unrepentant. Divorced. Deceiver. Hypocrite. Disqualified.

These labels describe my life at some level. They are an ugly but real part of my story.

Once a recognized church planter, lead pastor, and conference speaker with 2 Master’s degrees and a PhD, I allowed sin to destroy my life. I still remember the feelings of guilt and shame I experienced the first time I was unfaithful to my wife. And yet somehow I convinced myself that I was the exception to the rule. In my mind, my sin would not be exposed. I would survive. Yes I attempted to stop with my own tainted willpower. I hid my sin. I lied. I covered. I did what was necessary to protect my self and my reputation. But eventually my unrepentant sin caught up to me and my world came crashing in.  

January 9th 2011 was the most difficult day of my life to this point.

On that day, I walked off the stage for the last time of a church I had planted. Ironically, my last Sunday as the Founding Pastor of Grace Point Church was also our 5-year anniversary as a church. Grace Point is a vision God planted in my heart years earlier that became a reality in 2006 when about 135 people gathered in a middle school cafeteria in North Las Vegas and Grace Point Church was officially born.  

For over six years, Grace Point Church was my life. I loved it. I lived it. I breathed it. I was obsessed with it. The church grew and so did my ego. Recognition led to pride. And as the church evolved, my marriage deteriorated.  Soon I convinced myself that other women knew me better and cared about me more than my own wife. I didn’t just give up on a relationship. I gave up on a person. I believed that she could never fully meet my needs. I failed to believe God was big enough to heal my relationship. And as a result, I fell prey to one of the most common misconceptions and temptations known to man and soon I was involved in an adulterous relationship.

Living a façade is grueling. I was leading a church and teaching the Bible while I was perpetuating a lie behind the scenes. And somehow I believed that I could survive. I was even confronted on a couple of occasions about the obvious dangers of relationships I allowed to develop and instead of repenting of my sin and yielding myself to proper accountability, I lied. I shut people out. I intimidated. I manipulated.

Looking back, I don’t believe I deceived people in order to hurt them. I misled people in order to protect the life I knew. Ministry is all I knew. It was my life. I was good at it. And so I lied. I lied because I saw no other legitimate option. I knew if my sin were exposed, I would lose everything. And in my mind, I had nowhere to turn so I lied. And eventually I felt dirty but invincible.

And then in one random, unexpected moment, we were caught. The lies were exposed. And suddenly, everything I knew was gone. Because of my own selfish and sinful choices, I forfeited the right to lead the very church God birthed in my heart years earlier.  In a few days time, everything Devin Hudson related (name, sermons, videos, etc.) were erased from the website of a church that exists because of a God call in my heart. I didn't even have the opportunity to say goodbye. And it all happened for one reason: my sin.

The last official thing I did as the Lead Pastor of the church we planted to reach messy people was to share the gospel. After a day of celebration and reflection on our 5+ year journey, I shared the gospel one final time, walked off the stage, collapsed in the arms of a friend, and wept like a baby knowing my life would never be the same - and there was no one to blame but me.

On that same day, I had the toughest conversations I have ever had in my life as my secret sin and its subsequent consequences were revealed to my family, friends, and those God had entrusted me to lead and serve. I will NEVER forget the cries of anguish from my kids on that day. I will never forget the pain I caused my first wife. Even as I type the words, that memory still hurts my heart deeply and brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. I do not wish that feeling and experience on anyone. I live every day with that memory.

On that fateful day, everything I knew professionally and personally was forever changed. The hurt I felt and caused cannot be explained. It can only be experienced. I live with the reality of my choices every single day. I hurt more people than I even know. Everything I was and am was called into question. As I have heard it said many times, "It takes years to build a reputation but only a moment to destroy it."

Since that ominous day, my life has been filled with a lot of ups and downs. I have gone through a divorce. Relocated. Remarried. And taken my place in life outside the "ministry" world I had known so long. My life now is a direct result of a cycle of selfish choices. For an extended period of time, I allowed my heart to wander from the God who planted that initial vision in my heart. Eventually it caused me to develop and live a pattern of sinful decisions that disqualified me from the church I started from scratch. In short, I became a statistic.

Enter Grace. Grace is the difference between life being over and life starting over.

To say life since January 2011 has been difficult would be an extreme understatement. No one knows the pain, hurt, regret, guilt, and remorse that we have been through. As the old adage goes, "until you walk a mile in another person's shoes."  And yet through the immensity of the pain and severity of the consequences, God never stopped pursuing and loving me. After all, He is the God of second chances.

God has been healing my heart. Admittedly it is a long and arduous journey at times. I still live with the weight and guilt of my choices. I still live with the consequences of my actions. I don’t get to kiss my kids every night before bed. My life is different than anything I have ever known or experienced.
And yet God is molding me. I understand grace differently than ever. I cling to the life-transforming power of the gospel more tightly than ever. I guard my heart more closely than ever. I am more intentional in my marriage and as a parent. I understand hurt. I empathize with those who are struggling or fallen. God is at work.

I have no idea what my future holds. People ask me if I miss full-time ministry. And my answer is yes and no. I miss teaching. I miss leading. I miss creating. I miss seeing life change on the front lines. I miss watching a God-given vision come to fruition.  I don't miss the pressure to measure up. I don't miss the loneliness. I don't miss the expectations placed on you by your own distorted self and by others. I don't miss the continual struggle to grow more, do more, reach more, give more, etc. So yes I miss it in so many ways but in so many other ways I do not.  Will I ever return to full-time ministry? Only God knows. In the meantime, I am going to focus on what He is teaching me right now and allow Him to guide my next steps. I've tried the other route and it didn't turn out so well.

Recently a young man named Jesse was killed tragically in Las Vegas. Jesse, along with his mother and his brother, were some of the first people I baptized at Grace Point.  Their story is one of God redeeming broken people. And in the midst of this horrific tragedy, God reminded me, "Devin, that's why I sent you to Las Vegas."  God was and continues to be bigger than my sinful choices.  He was faithful even when I was not.  And because His grace is bigger than my sin, the story of Jesse ends different.  His story is a celebration of a life transformed by the love of Jesus. I have been reminded of this blessing when I talked to Jesse's grieving mother who amidst this disaster has hope. She has hope because in the end Jesus wins and death loses. It is the same hope that resides in my heart and in my story today.

Here is what I am learning through my healing process: God exchanges our labels for His.  And here is just a glimpse of how God sees me:

Loved. Forgiven. Justified. Accepted. Valuable. Redeemed. Chosen. Called.

God is the God of Second Chances. He is the God who transforms, heals, restores, mends, and reconciles. He is the God who makes all things new.

Statistics suggest that my second marriage will fail. Grace screams otherwise. Statistics say that I will be unfaithful to my wife again. Grace says otherwise. Statistics declare I am finished. Grace announces otherwise. Statistics say I am confined to the sidelines. Grace proclaims otherwise. Statistics state my story is a tragedy. Grace pronounces otherwise.

I’m not sure what the next chapter of my life will read but I do know what the final words of the final chapter will say: because of Jesus, grace wins every time.  And for that reason, my story is just getting started.

Welcome to People of the Second Chance.

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