I have gone to church most of my life. During my school age years I was a faithful member of First Baptist Church in my hometown of Okmulgee, OK. A dear couple, Dola and Ina West, would pick me and my sister up each Sunday morning and take us to and from church. One of the highlights each Sunday was when we were dropped off Mr. West would give us each a stick of gum, simple I know but to kids that was awesome. I would occasionally attend Sunday nights and most Wednesday nights. I went to Falls Creek three consecutive summers during my high school years in the late eighties. It was while attending my last year at Falls Creek during an altar call that I felt the call of God to be involved in some type of ministry in His church (more on this call later).
My time at FBC was good. We had good Bible teachers in the pulpit and caring people who always were there to help. But something was missing specifically something missing in me. That something was a strong desire to serve God. I served myself first and foremost, God a distant second. Even though I knew I should be obedient to Him I didn’t.
After high school I attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK and earned a BS in Math Education. It was during my time at NSU that I fell further away from God. I stopped attending church all together. There was a Christian group that met each week that I attended just once in five years there. I attended church maybe once a semester. I visited most every evangelical denomination in town. The church I attended most was the Catholic church across from campus. I attended mass a total of three times (that will give you an idea of how little I attended church) for the simple reason that a girl I was dating was Catholic and to be with her I went to mass with her.
During these years I never drank, did drugs or curse but I wasted opportunities that God gave me to serve Him and I ignored Him. I found ways to live for myself and did just that. Yet if you were to ask me if I was a Christian without hesitating I would say yes. I think that my friends at the time would agree with that statement. Yet I wasn’t living for God anymore than the atheist living in the same dorm as me. I prayed when I needed God and for no other reason than that - I used Him when I should have been letting Him use me. I didn’t read my Bible. I never worshiped God. I was living a lie.
I was hired by Moore Public Schools five months after graduation. I was on my own, never dated, did what I wanted, never read the Bible, attended church just once and my selfishness grew. Still never drank, never did drugs, didn’t curse but didn’t obey God. To be honest God became smaller in my life and I became larger. I used my time for me not for Him. But like in college I prayed when I needed God. If you asked me or others if I was a Christian the answer would be yes. Like in college I lived a lie. I was a sham.
Six years after I became a teacher I began to date my future wife and she asked if I would attend church with her so I did (sound familiar?). During the time we dated I began to read the Bible. As I read it I wanted I found that I wanted to read it more and more. I began to get a hunger for God’s Word that couldn’t be quenched. During my reading I wanted a deeper understanding of the text so I found a Bible study program (e-sword.net) that had a wealth of information and study resources. During my study I found that I was not living for the Lord as He commanded me and all of us to. I realized that my high school, college and teaching years were wasted. I lived for me and not for Christ. I can’t pinpoint the day that I surrendered to the Lordship of Christ; surrender is something that I do daily and have since that time.
Since God changed my life I have answered His call to be involved in the ministry. I teach and lead in my church. I preach occasionally. I am involved in outreach and assist in many areas in my church. I love serving the Lord. I only wish that I would have been doing this all along.
As I look back on this path I can see God’s hand working in my life to bring me to Him. No matter where I was He kept me safe, and on the path to redemption. I am constantly reminded that I am a sinner saved by the grace of God.