FROM A POTHEAD TO A PREACHER’S WIFE (PART 2)
After reading what my husband had written, I turned to him and told him what had happened to me a few days earlier. We both knew someone was trying to get our attention and tell us something.
Now in the years prior to this, we had Christians and pastors come to our home to share the Gospel with us, but we did not want anything to do with them. Not only were we drug using hippies, but we had a six foot Boa Constrictor that frequently slithered around freely in our home. Needless to say, we never saw those Christians again!
On this night though, when it seemed like God was trying to get our attention, we wondered where are the Christians now that we wanted them? After we talked about what was apparently going on in our life at that moment, we decided what we needed to do was to go to church. At that time we both thought going to church would solve everything. Of course, now we know it is not religion, but a relationship with Jesus that makes the difference.
Since my husband’s parents and my parents did not raise either of us in the church, we did not know where to begin. This was a whole new world to us. We laid there tossing our thoughts back and forth, trying to decide what we should do and where we should go. We finally came to the decision to try a little church I attended when I was fourteen years old. I’m ashamed to say, but the only reason I was attending this particular church was to get the attention of a young man who went to that church.
This time though I was going to church to “find God.” When we walked into the church, I saw new faces and some old familiar ones. Sitting to the left of the auditorium was the young man I tried to pursue when I was a teenager. I noticed he had two little girls sitting next to him. I later found out his wife had left him and he was a broken man seeking God’s forgiveness and grace too.
As the service began, it all seemed so different. The warmth and friendliness I remembered as a child did not seem to be there. It was down right cold. For some reason this church had become cold and uninviting. Maybe it was because my husband had long hair and a scraggly beard. Or maybe it was because of the way we dressed. We did not have church clothes. All we had were bell bottom jeans with patches and tie-dyed t-shirts.
We left there feeling depressed, displaced, and dejected. That whole week we continued our quest to find the answer to this pull toward God and the longing to serve Him. We did not do our weekend partying as usual and our hippie friends wondered what had happened to us.
The next Sunday we tried another church. Still the religious well seemed to be dry. We went another week discouraged. We began to wonder if we would ever find a church where we felt welcomed.
The following week we decided to attend a little Baptist church in Lonedell, Missouri where we lived. The part-time pastor there had been my husbands’ seventh and eighth grade teacher. He was also the pastor that married us in 1970.
When we walked into the church that Sunday morning, we were surprised to find that the pastor we were expecting to see, no longer pastored at this church. The present pastor was someone we had never met before. He was a middle aged man with blonde hair combed back. He wore a bright colored sport jacket and looked like a TV evangelist.
In his sermon he talked about how he used to be a salesman constantly on the road. He talked about how he became depressed, lonely, and dependent on alcohol. He went on to say that one night in a motel room he turned on the TV, mostly for background noise. Suddenly he heard the voice of a famous crusade preacher talking about the void that everyone has in their life. The TV evangelist went on to say that people often try to fill that void with things like alcohol, sex, and drugs. Jesus is the only thing that can fill that void. Jesus said, ‘He is the way, the truth, and the life.’ The pastor went on to tell how he gave his heart and life to Jesus that night.
Sitting there … I was thinking: “That is what happened to me. That was the same experience I had.” In this little church, unlike the others we had attended, the pastor gave an invitation at the conclusion of the sermon. People were invited to come forward to pray, join the church, or whatever the Lord was leading them to do.
Everyone was standing and singing an old familiar hymn: “Just As I Am.” It did not take long before my husband and I had tears rolling down our face. It was though we both had a death grip on the pew. We stood there crying, wondering what we should do. The preacher looked right at us and said, ”You want to come, but the old devil says to wait until next time.” It wasn’t the fact of waiting until next time as it was that neither my husband or myself were raised in the church and we did not know what would happen, or what was suppose to happen, when a person went up in front of the church.
The invitation finally came to a close and we got into our car to leave. We had gotten into the habit of asking one another after each church visit what the other one felt about the church service. We both agreed we liked the service and we both wanted to come back the next Sunday.
We did return the next week. Again we had the same experience, when we got to the invitation. This time though the pastor could see my husband needed Jesus. Leaving the service that day, as my husband reached to shake the pastor’s hand, the pastor looked my husband in the eye and asked if he needed to talk about something.
My husband told the pastor, “Man I need to talk to someone. I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.” The pastor excused himself from the rest of the congregation, and took my husband into his office to share with him from the Bible. He told my husband that we all have sinned.
The pastor told my husband that Jesus died for his sin and all he needed to do was to ask Jesus to forgive him and come into his life.
There in the Pastor’s office, In December of 1975, my husband gave his heart to Jesus. That evening we both went to church. This time, when the service came to an end, my husband and I did not hesitate to go to the altar during the invitation. We let the congregation know what Jesus had done in our lives.
A couple of weeks later we were baptized together. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams that my husband and I would one day be standing side by side in a baptismal pool in a little country Baptist church; me the former pot-head and him a future preacher!