The following story is for everyone who believes that a decision or event from their past has caused their life to veer off course. It is proof that God can step into any circumstance and lead you to a life and calling you never dreamed.
Mike Diggs walks the Point Loma campus, looks around the quiet lobby and thinks about the events of his life that brought him to Rock Church where he is the Safety Director. It is a drastic 180 degrees from where he imagined his life was going just a short time ago. It’s not what he dreamed of, but as Mike’s life will show, sometimes we just don’t dream big enough.
He takes a seat in the empty sanctuary and thinks back to the night when his life, and dream, took an abrupt left turn.
Officer Mike Diggs is outside a ramshackle apartment building sitting in a confiscated jalopy assigned to him as a supervisor of an undercover unit in Montgomery County, Maryland. After piecing together all the evidence about who it was that had robbed 22 banks in the recent months in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, the PD knows where this guy is likely to go and where he is not. And so Mike places his teams around town at the hotspots. He loves his job, and part of the joy is watching his team get the accolades that come with making the big catch. Besides, this guy has taken a lot of cash and scared a lot of people, walking into banks with a baseball cap and sunglasses and pointing the barrel of his gun at lots of innocent folks. He’s a guy Mike and his team are itching to take down.
But the thief makes one critical mistake. The last bank he holds up, he points a gun at a woman who happened to go to high school with him. With her help, the police have a ton of intel on him now. His days are numbered.
So Mike gets comfortable on the seats of his confiscated PD-issued car outside the suspect’s apartment—the last place they expect to see him, and keeps watch. He is excited for his team. Today could be the day.
Suddenly, the suspect drives up on a motorcycle, gets off, and takes the stairs to his apartment. Mike’s eyes widen. This thing is on.
The call is made for two of his fellow street unit guys to come over as back up. Minutes later, the suspect descends the steps—wearing the exact same clothes that he wears in every video the banks have of him.
As he gets into his car that has been backed into the parking space, it is go-time. Mike and team screech into action, cutting off his exit. There are cars beside him, in front of him…and woods directly behind him.
“Let me see your hands! Show your hands!” Mike screams as guns are drawn. The suspect begins to get out of his car. “Get down on the ground! Face down on the ground!”
As if all commands are optional, the suspect begins to do the “felony shuffle,” where he holds his hands out and begins asking the cops questions. “What did I do? What did I do?” he calls out while moving in a physical direction contrary to orders.
“On the ground! Get on the ground!”
Just then, Mike notices a slight bit of body language—a twitch of his head as if trying to take in what is directly behind him. Anything to trip over
“Don’t do it, man,” Mike yells. “Don’t even think about it.” He’s big and built. He looks fast.
Like a flash, he bolts into the woods.
Mike’s partner, standing nearest the woods, takes off after him with Mike right behind. For the next few minutes, it is an on-foot, high-speed, chase, dashing around trees and jumping over debris, through sticker bushes and over fallen trees as they try to run him down while not having their heads taken off by unseen branches.
Mike’s partner, who can really run, grabs hold of the suspect but is straight-armed and knocked to the ground. Over the top flies Mike to grab the suspect by the head and they both tumble down the side of a hill in a flurry of arms and legs as a torrid fistfight breaks out.
When officers finally lock on the cuffs, Mike feels good about the catch—except for one thing: his right hand is killing him. But for the moment, there is no time for pain, especially when he hears that the dude left a large, loaded gun sitting on the front passenger seat of his car, on top of a Yellow Pages phone book opened to, guess what, “banks.”
In the months to come, his throbbing hand becomes nearly unusable for the pain; he can’t even hold a pen or toothbrush. Over the next two years, seven different surgeries are performed to repair it. But ultimately, the condition of his hand becomes an issue the police department doctor must flag. He deems the hand too compromised for use and Mike unfit for returning to service. He’s given a choice: retire or take administrative duty for the remainder of his career.
He is just 38 years old. It is devastating news.
Mike absolutely loved the work of being a police officer; the comradery, the freedom of working outside, and the chance to make a difference. It’s why he excelled at it so much—it meant everything to him, becoming his identity. He had to painfully accept that the job he had given his life to simply had no use for him.
Lost as to what he could do with his life, Mike sat at home and looked out the window hoping God would deliver to him a second chance at a meaningful existence. But what could it be? Where would he begin?
At not even 40 years old, the future looked bleak. "Lord," he prayed, "what good am I to anybody now?"
POSTSCRIPT: Because of his law enforcement past, Mike took a job with the Department of Homeland Security and was transferred to San Diego. In time, he volunteered with the Rock Church Safety Ministry and later was offered the job as Director of Safety where the safety of 18,000 people across five campuses each Sunday, including all weekday functions and a K-12 academy, is under his purview. Says Mike, “I’m so blessed to provide an essential component of the Rock experience. I get to touch so many lives, including our team of volunteers. We work to maintain a safe place of worship and learning for all, so that people can experience the fullness of God. This position is God’s calling on my life—what I was meant to do. I believe God used everything prior to this to lead me here now—I just couldn’t see it at the time.”
Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.