I wish that I could say that change is easy. I wish that I could say that once you truly desire ridding yourself of sin that God would immediately come to the aid and provide the change of heart and mind that is necessary to become a “man of God.” But, my testimony will give no such indication of such acute triumph.
The conflict within that I described in the previous blogÂ grew. I recognized that my pursuits were empty and making me the subject of their betrayal. I was determined to make my life harmonize with my faith. Monday mornings became days of sadness turned repentance turned hope. I would wake up and review the events of the weekend in shame. I would call on God to forgive me and give me strength. It is so easy to mistake the feeling of remorse and a renewed agenda of righteousness for His strength. With this “Monday morning hope” in mind, I would call all my friends informing them of my decision to quit. “Its over. I am not going out any more.” At first this alarmed them, but after nearly two years of hearing the same story they would just laugh and say “Sure Michael. We will see you at the T-Bar on Friday for penny beer.” They were right. I could not sustain the strength. By the time Friday came my spirituality had faded into the abyss and the wretched man was in control.
While I was out one night I met this girl. She was moving to Arizona so that night I made a rash drunkenÂ decision to move to Arizona with her. I took three friends with me (they had nothing better to do!). While I was there, the cognitive dissonance continued to grow. I began to talk to this girl about my faith. She was an atheist and was not open to my evangelizing. But I pursued anyway. She must have thought I was rather odd as I would break up with her, quitÂ drinkingÂ and sleeping with her for weeks, thenÂ lose my motivation, returning, plunging myself deeper into sin than ever before.
After six months of dating, she was ready for us to start talking seriously about our relationship. I told her that one day things would change in my life and that neither of us would be happy with each other. When we moved back to Oklahoma, she committed her life to Christ on my bed one day. Why the sudden change? Well, don’t get your hopes up. She later revealed to me that she was deceiving me so that our relationship could move toward marriage. Either way, she discovered that marriage was not on my agenda just yet.
Staying home, studying my BibleÂ intently one week and the next going out every night adding to my depravity. That was the way it looked in 93′. I would try not to sleep with girls, but drunkenness has a way of alleviating yourself of a godly conscience.
As a side-note: most people don’t realize how many people there are out there who are going through this conflict, living this type of a dichotomous lifestyle. While I was in it, I met many who were in the exact same circumstance as me. I knew who they were and they knew who I was. Upon seeing each other we would just hang our head in shame knowing what the other was thinking, neither of us with a solution as to how to rectify the situation. Our saddened contenence was like our secret handshake. We were theÂ simul iustus et peccator at the bars.
During this time I had started going to church again. I loved church. Really, I loved my pastor, Chet Lackey. The church he led had only about fifteen people on a busy day (six of those were from my family). There was something about Chet. He knew the faith. He was an exegete, theologian, and apologist all in one. I had never seen this before. I truly believed he was the smartest person on earth. His teaching lit within me a passion for truth. He taught me to defend the faith in a way other than the unconventional method that I mentioned previously. I learned about the evidences for the resurrection, eschatology, and hermeneutics. I learned that Christianity was not only true because mom said so, but because the evidences are compelling. But more than thisÂ Chet was a man of grace and mercy. Although he never mentioned it, he knew my lifestyle. I don’t know how he knew, but I am certian he did. In spite of this, he was always waiting with open arms every Sunday evening (we were meeting in a Seventh Day Adventist building at night). His strong uncompromising love for theology and the Gospel along with an accepting love were influential beyond all else at this time. In my mind, when I pictured what I wanted to be like if I were able to overcome my failures, it was to be like Chet. During my “intervals of revival” I would often meet Chet and discuss theology. At one point I asked to meet him to talk about going to seminary. He encouraged me to pursue this direction, suggesting Dallas Theological Seminary.
In 94′ Chet announced at church that he was going in for minor exploratory surgery and to pray for him. He never came out. He choked on his vomit after surgery while in recovery and died. After his death, I was determined to continue his legacy.
ButÂ a problem remained. I could not find consistency in my life. I tried to compensate. I would go outÂ on datesÂ andÂ pull out my J. Vernon McGeeÂ Commentary and begin to teach.Â Â These girls looked at me like I was crazy, but usually conceded and listened for my sake. I could not understand why they were not as excited as meÂ about the fact that there were not really only three wise men. It was revolutionary to me!
One Sunday night while at my home away from home, The Dugout, for drown night ($5 for all the Milwaukee’s Best you can drink), I met someone that would become the biggest part of my life. She was a new waitress. Not only this, but she was increadibly hot!Â I knew all the waitresses (most more than I needed to), and I was not about to let this one leave without my attention. I stopped her as she walked by my table and said, “Before I get drunk, I wanted to tell you that I love you.” I was alreadyÂ drunk and her name was Kristie.