Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Early Years

All scripture references, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
My dad was a logger in Morton, Washington. We lived in a house that was originally built as a garage, which my folks moved into in advance of building a regular house before I was born. The regular house was never built. My first memories are of the little logging town of Morton, Washington. One of my few memories of Morton was when I ran away. I was only two or so. I remember going into the town of Morton and being picked up by the paper boy and taken home. My mother gave him a 50 cent piece. I remember feeling very betrayed. Another memory was a half grown piglet that my folks got from somewhere. My dad built an enclosure and put the pig in it. I remember my older brothers climbing in and chasing the pig around the pen. Then I climbed in to do the same. The problem was that I was the youngest, only about two, and instead of me chasing the pig, the pig chased me!

My folks separated when I was about three years old. As my mother told it, she was to move to Puyallup, Washington, and my dad was to follow at a later date. Instead, he sued my mother for divorce on the grounds of desertion. This was before the 2nd World War ended with the surrender of Japan. My mother was able to buy a house in Puyallup where we lived until I was about nine years old. Another thing that is vivid in my memory is the curl of cigarette smoke in our living room. My mother had backslid from her walk with God. She had become bitter about many things and no doubt blamed it on people in the church. In later years she told me that some of the women in the Puyallup church had accused her of smoking because they saw matches in her purse. 

As I recall, I was about five years old when there was a beautiful display of probably the Perseid meteor shower that took place. It seemed as though all the stars were falling. All of the neighborhood were out in their yards oohing and awing over the sight. My maternal grandmother, Mary Jane Ward was visiting at the time. As everybody was exclaiming over the beauty of the meteor shower, I was terrified and crying. My grandma Ward who was a Jesus name Pentecostal Christian, came over to me, knelt down, and asked why I was crying. I said to her that I was afraid because all the stars of heaven were falling. She told me not to cry for it was just a sign in the heavens that the Lord Jesus was coming back for His church. I went from being afraid to being in awe. I don't recall a day since that day that I have ever doubted that there was a God in heaven, whose name is Jesus, and He would come back for His church one day.

I wish that I could say that I went to church religiously throughout my youth. I did not. I did not go to church on my own nor was I sent to church but grew up as a heathen. Oh my brother Joe and I went to a Baptist Vacation Bible School once where he won a New Testament because he memorized the books of the Bible. I did not win any thing as I just wanted to play. When my mom married my stepfather, who was a Lutheran, I remember going to a Lutheran Vacation Bible School also. The results were the same. When I was about ten or twelve, my mother tried to correct the course my life was taking, but without the church. It didn't work! As a result as I grew up as a heathen, because I was a heathen, I did all the things heathens do. When I was a teenager I started to swear. I remember swearing at my stepfather who happened to be one of the gentlest people I have ever known. When my brother Joe turned to God at age eighteen and tried to witness to me I would cuss him out. 

I did not own a Bible until I was in the U.S. Army when my oldest brother Gary who, with his wife Marian, and had made a start for God, gave me one as a Christmas present. I did try to read it. I picked it up a couple of times and would try to read in Genesis but I could never get very far as it made no sense to me and I was not interested. So I went through the Army and got out in April of 1962, just before the Vietnam war started to heat up. There were several attempts of the Army to get me to re-enlist, all to no avail. Although I was not required to join any active reserve meetings, once I thought I would join a local National Guard Ranger Unit. I remember going the the National Guard Armory with the intent of joining them. I was there for about an hour. I never spoke to anyone nor did anyone speak to me. I just walked around looking at the pictures on the walls as sergeants and others would walk by me. No one said boo. Finally I left not having joined the unit. I believe it was the hand of God in my life.

I lived for myself, chased around, did what everybody else was doing, after being in the U. S. Army from age twenty to age twenty-three. There were several times, that under great conviction for the sinful life I was living, I tried to turn unsuccessfully to God. Then in June of 1965, the Lord Jesus came into my life for real. I found out that as the Bible says in John 15:5, without the Lord Jesus' help, I could do nothing. You too my friends, without the Lord Jesus' help can do nothing. But He will help you today. Jesus said in John 12:32-33, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." Jesus died, was buried and rose again for you and I. And as the Bible says in 2nd Peter 3:9 that God, "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." If you are willing to repent, Jesus is willing to save you! Obey what Peter told his Jewish listeners on the day of Pentecost, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."  (See Acts 2:38-39) God will never break His word. 

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