Mike Barrett: Taking a Risk on God
By Stacey Michalak
The 700 Club
"I believe that there’s a whole world of people like me, who love the edge, who love to push things a little bit too far," says Mike Barrett.
Mike loved extreme sports, but his addiction to adrenaline had been the cause for much of his turmoil.
"I started using some drugs, alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine between ages 17 and 20. It was just what you did then. All your friends smoked pot, all your friends surfed, all your friends skateboarded, so you did. It was just expected."
After high school, Mike surprised everyone by going to a college far from the ocean.
"I had gone to Judson College in Illinois, and as a Southern California surfer guy, that was very difficult for me, so I hated every minute of it," he recalls.
That all changed when Mike stumbled into a campus Bible study.
"I didn’t hear any message and I didn’t know what they were talking about, but they immediately started praying and as I walked into that room, I felt the Lord’s presence come on me. I had no more desire for drugs and alcohol. I just wanted to follow the Lord at that point."
Mike met Lisa, who was also a Christian.
"I got married and finished college, and life started all over again," he says.
Mike and Lisa became the parents of two sons. But this joy was soon over-shadowed when Lisa received devastating news. She had a bump on her neck. It was a swollen lymph node.
"She had it checked out by the doctor and they called us in, and it was the conversation that no one wants to hear. They told us that she had cancer," says Mike.
Lisa received treatment, but it was too late. The disease spread all over her body. She was only 31- years-old when she lost her battle with cancer.
Right before she passed away, she had a five-year-old and a two-year-old.
"It was horrible for her to miss her kids and wonder how they were going to be taken care of. Yeah, I just wouldn’t wish that on anybody."
The sudden loss of Lisa left a lasting effect on Mike’s relationship with God.
"I was pretty mad, and I felt like I was getting a raw deal myself. I was very much in love with my wife. When she passed away, we had been together for seven years and I began to live a little more recklessly. I did the three things they tell you to never do when your spouse dies. They say don’t change your job, don’t move from your house, and don’t get married. And I did all three things in the first 10 months of losing my wife."
It was only eight months after Lisa’s passing, when Mike was introduced to Donna.
"I was at a dinner party at someone’s house in Portland, and she was there along with 20 or so other people, and she just stood out in the crowd to me. She was obviously very beautiful. We went out every night for the next two months. And then I asked her to marry me, and we were married a week later."
He continues, "We talked a lot about Lisa and honestly, it was not difficult to talk about her. I never felt threatened by her.
She put up pictures of Lisa by the kids bed. She would pray with the kids at night about their mother. She’s pretty amazing. "
Even though Donna became a part of the family, Mike’s feelings of grief finally caught up to him.
"I hadn’t appropriately grieved the loss of my wife. You know, I moved right into a relationship. I got married and life took off again. I was trying to outrun deep feelings of grief. I was very angry. I was very difficult to live with, and I was very mean to my wife."
It wasn’t long before Donna found emails Mike had written to an old girlfriend.
"I just remember Josh was on the floor drawing. I was just thinking about him and thinking what would happen if Mike and I didn’t make it. You know, he already lost his mom. And I just thought he can’t lose somebody else. He can’t lose another mom and so of course, I was in shock," says Donna.
Mike didn’t meet his former girlfriend, but he did make plans to meet another woman in Los Angeles.
"Everything was set and just fine, and I decided not to get on the airplane. I just knew if I crossed the threshold of that jet, that it was going to lead to a whole other world."
Mike was heading towards a lifestyle with no accountability, until he received advice from a friend.
"I started a three-day fast and during that fast, God was really speaking to me deeply about how fake I was, and how my wife was phenomenal for me."
Mike rededicated his life to God, and this breakthrough led to real conversation with Donna.
"I told her the whole thing and it was surprising to me, because I expected her to leave me or be extremely hurt, but instead she was relieved," he says.
"Finally, he was telling me the truth, and I loved that he was telling me the truth. The news was bad and it was hard, but I trusted him this time," says Donna.
Donna forgave him, which drew Mike into a deeper relationship with God.
"What God was really saying to me was underneath all that stuff, I was a huge fake. I was a fraud and I wasn't honest with anyone about it. However, God loves me. He loves that I love the edge. He loves that I take risks. In fact, He made me that way for a reason. It was so much more than just confessing things to my wife. It was that God still loved me!"
Mike shares this love with surfers and other thrill seekers through his ministry and his book, The Danger Habit.
"God is showing me that the way we are wired is to love that danger and if we are serving the Lord and following Him, or following his voice, He’s using those people in profound ways. It was the most profound awakening of my whole spiritual life and everybody’s life when they realize, God still loves them."
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