My spiritual journey begins with a childhood filled with religion and religious duties. Not a relationship but a world of tradition and rules. When I left home, I quickly abandoned all thoughts of anything concerning God and religion. By the time I left home to join the Coast Guard, I could already curse like a sailor and drink with the best of them. Since I started drinking early in my teen years, I had a lot of experience. The military did help me take alcoholism to new levels.
I got married after boot camp to my high school sweetheart. Cindy has stuck by me through lots of crazy times and her dedication has saved my life through some very dark days. We had two daughters and, sad to say, they were subjected to a pretty volatile environment at home. My alcoholism ran unchecked for many years and to top it off, I even managed to land a job at a beer distributor as a shop manager/mechanic. This led to even more alcohol abuse and coming home from work buzzed nearly every day.
All my life I have had an addiction to motorcycles. I would constantly swap, buy and sell bikes, parts and riding gear. Normally I would buy one, fix it up courtesy of a credit card, and then sell it at a loss to go buy something else. Needless to say, my wife did not really appreciate the constant debt and it caused a lot of turmoil in our home. Back in 1995 I was riding a Ducati Monster motorcycle and wanted to trade…again! I was lusting after a shiny new red Ducati SS900 sport bike and was driving my wife nuts about it. She finally relented and let me trade under one condition; that I would attend church with her and the girls. Yes, extortion got me back into church! Anyway, I got the new bike and life was good. Going to church but not getting involved or engaged in what was going on. I journeyed up to my brother’s home during this time to help him do some tree cutting. It was August and extremely hot so we naturally drank beer to stay hydrated. On the way home that afternoon I developed double vision while riding my new motorcycle. I pulled off the side of the interstate to lay down in the ditch and gather my thoughts. While resting, a truck went by and blew my pretty red Ducati over on its side. Managed to get up, pick up the bike and ride it home. Still do not remember how I got home to this day.
That night I began to sense that God was getting very tired of my selfish and destructive behavior. I felt my chances were sliding away and I was facing an eternity of terror if I didn’t get my life on track. The next morning in church I could hardly wait for the invitation. I nearly ran down the aisle and wrapped my arms around the pastor, sobbing uncontrollably. To be perfectly clear about this, I did not get religion! I got JESUS! I met about 300 people that morning and found out that most of them had be praying for me for years. One incoherent sobbing prayer of surrender took away lifelong alcoholism and a habit of rampant profanity. Both gone instantly and still gone 19 years later!
Started teaching Sunday School about a year later and wanted even more to do. I soon surrendered to the call of ministry on my life and began pursuing education, training, and opportunities to serve God. After telling my mother about this decision, she told me about when she was pregnant with me that it was a very difficult time. She would often go outside and pray to God for a healthy baby. In exchange, she had offered me up for His service. It certainly confirmed my decision and helped me realize this really was of God and not something I made up in my own mind.
My only regret is that it took me 35 years to fall into the arms of Christ and give it all up. Life has certainly been challenging since that fateful morning but God has given me the strength to make it through all of the trials and tribulations. Don’t know if I could’ve done it without Him!