Interview with a Giant-Killer: Meet J.J. Johnson

giant-1013693_640Describe the giant in your life and how you overcame:

My story is a simple one. I never tried in school. I just didn’t care. I was busy playing in a punk band and trying to write songs. That was the plan. A record deal, a big tour, signing posters, and t-shirts- I had an epic life all planned out.

When the time for high school graduation came- I walked in the ceremony. I did the entire cap and gown thing. It was the start of something new. Then I discovered the truth. I didn’t graduate. I was a full credit short and my GPA was a joke.

In the few days that followed, I wasn’t sure what to do. I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. I started researching how to get my GED. I was certain I would spend the rest of my life working in the Toilet Paper factory. Fortunately, God had different plans.

Let me state right off- I don’t subscribe to the prosperity gospel. But, I think when God works in our lives- and blesses us- then we should celebrate, share, and challenge others to live out a life of faith and trust in Him as well.

It was during this time, when I wanted to quit and walk away, when I wanted to give up and just forget everything, that God brought a unique family into my life. They took me under their wing. Helped mold a part of me. The name of this family was: The Fosters. They were a family of Chris’s. (Kris, Christine, Christopher, Kristen, Kristian, and Krisha.) They helped me apply for a correspondence course through the University of Oklahoma in order to get that last credit. And on Halloween night of 1997, I got my High School diploma.

That was the first step in a long, long, journey. I had a 1.7 GPA. I barely got into our local community college. Even after I did, I had to takepossible-379215_640 remedial classes before moving on to actual college level courses. I maintained a 4.0 that first semester. Transferred to Oklahoma Baptist University where I studied Biblical Theology and Sociology. Today I have moved up my company into an upper management role as VP of Marketing.

I have no idea why things worked out for me. I have no idea why God opened doors that should have always remained shut. I have no idea why this family showed enough love to help me through a tough time. I have no idea. But I look back now and see God’s sovereign hand through it all.

The point is- God has plans for each of us. Whether it is experiencing the pits of poverty, or giving away millions. The hope is that we realize- We exist to always Glorify Him. He is the author and creator of all things. He opens doors- He shuts them. He is in heaven- And He does whatever he pleases. 

Describe how any of these traits mentioned in 2 Peter 1:1-10 played a role in slaying your giant – faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love:

The most difficult part for me was faith: How could I believe that God had plans for my life, after I had failed, after I had given up and stop trusting him. Over time, I learned to let go and trust Him through this process. During that year, I grew more in my relationship with God than I ever had. I dove in deep into His word, searching for deep truths like priceless treasures. I stopped being angry, and I learn to both love people, and let people love me. 

sword-1078968_640Was there a particular Bible verse or passage that was valuable to you in slaying this giant?

Acts chapter 3– I love the story of Peter and John going to pray in the temple and coming across a lame man who was carried there from birth to beg. The Bible says that the man “Looked at them, expecting to receive something. Then Peter said- Silver or Gold we do not have. But we do have, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise and walk. And immediately the man went with them into the temple and started jumping and praising God. And the people recognized him as the same man…”  That last part always stung for me. Here was a man they all recognized- And not one had ever stopped to share the Gospel. Sure it was a Jewish temple- But I have to believe that if Peter and John were there, other believers were there. And not one had stopped.

This family wasn’t the only family that knew about my situation- They were just the family that stopped. I don’t begrudge those that didn’t. I believe strongly this was all God’s plan. But, I decided in that moment, during that time- I didn’t want to be someone that simple passed by one in need.

How did other Christians play a role in your giant slaying?

My grandmother- She didn’t know the details of what was going on, but I spent a lot of time with her that summer. I remember watching her do dishes in the sink, and sing her hymns quietly to herself while doing so. Seeing that always showed me how much she loved God. How much He had blessed her with a simple life of contentment. She may not have done extraordinary things- But she made an impact on my life.

Lori’s note: I met JJ recently and I’ve started following his writing to see what else God has in store for him. Many of us have had to slay the giant of an early failure but if we turn it over to Jesus, nothing is wasted. Thank God for JJ’s faith and the faith he witnessed in the family that stopped and in his grandmother. The power we have, in Christ, to participate in one another’s healing is astounding.

If you have a story of a time you slayed a giant, email me at lorisroel@gmail.com and I’ll send you an interview with a giant-slayer to complete! Let your words encourage others.

If J.J’s story has encouraged you, let him know. Leave a comment HERE.

Get in on the conversation

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

5 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. What a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Thank you for sharing your story, J. J.

  2. Love your remarkable story J.J. of how God didn’t give up on you. I had a grandmother, too, who made a big impact on my life because of her faith.

  3. Great interview. J.J. Thank you for the reminder to invest time into others lives like the Fosters did for you. I praise God with you that He never gives up on us. God bless you

  4. This is awesome! So amazing to read about your journey, J.J.

  5. Pam Halter says:

    JJ – I love this so much. God IS a god of prosperity! But you can’t negate the work you did, as well. Being partners with the Almighty – wow – what makes us think we can *anything* without Him? And why would we even want to?? Yay, God!