On recent posts I’ve given a few excerpts from my new book, Our Lives Together, The Early Years. I’ve wondered if I’d share this one. Most know of my Christian persuasion; most probably don’t know how that came about. The book delivers the story, abbreviated, on one page. I’ve copied it here.
(Also, see below for a talk on the same topic, or click here.)
One of the few photos extant from that time, me, either still questing or brand-new born and still stunned by it all. (I still am.)
During this period I realized I’d reached my goals. I was 27. I was an art director, I had a house, a great boat, a great car and, of course, a great wife. But for all this, I was empty. Setting new goals seemed futile. Once I took Anne for a walk to ask her who I was, as I had lost track.
Complicating it, I was often sick. I came to realize the illness was of a psychosomatic nature but still I couldn’t get a handle on it. There were fears. I didn’t think of myself as a fearful person, but something was eating away at my stomach and it would manifest in a most unruly way. I became more introspective, nurtured a clever cynicism, and was not at all hopeful about the future. I was wary of bringing children into such a world.
For about a year I slipped deeper and deeper into this darkness.
Without knowing anything about this, my dad gave me a book. I thanked him but had no intention of reading it, seeing it was Christian in nature.
Later, when he asked about it, I told him I’d lost it, to which he said, “Here, have another one.”
He’d bought a case of these books and was giving them to all his friends.
Right about then Anne and I were heading out for our second month-long trip to Mexico. This one, I’d determined, would be more of a reading and contemplation trip. I packed a number of books–about the future and some, more metaphysical (Eastern, New Age). I brought along my dad’s book as I knew he’d be asking me again. I determined to read it first.
I was reading it in Culiacan, our first major stop. We were visiting Carlos, who had first befriended me during the car mishap years earlier (page 40).We were staying in a tiny motel room and I was reading on the bed. Anne walked in and asked how it was, knowing I wouldn’t like it at all.
“It’s pretty good,” I said, “The guy agrees with me. The world is falling apart.”
The book, The Late, Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsay and Carole Carlson, long out of print now, was basically about biblical prophesy. Though I’d long since left it, I’d had a church background, so the references and stories were not unfamiliar to me. I just hadn’t considered that they could be relevant.
I don’t remember how many predictions cited in Old Testament history that pointed to Christ, but far too many to be coincidental. By evidence, the coming of Jesus to earth fulfilled them all.
Then, both in the Old Testament and the New, including statements by Jesus himself, there were predictions of how he would die, that he would resurrect, and that ultimately he would return, big time.
Also, while no one knows when it will be, the world will suffer an upheaval like it never has. The authors pointed to where the world was beginning to show signs of it all now. It made a certain sense.
Besides all that, there was another matter, more personal. The claim was that, in fact, Jesus was the son of God sent to earth–not only to teach us, but to pay the penalty we should be paying to a perfect and perfection-demanding God. I was told I needed to respond to this personally.
This was uncomfortable reading for me and I’d hurry on. Nor did I see how a personal decision had anything to do with anything . . . and certainly not “everything,” as the book claimed.
So, it wasn’t just history I was reading, as interesting as that was, or prophesy, as intriguing as that was, but there was suddenly a spotlight on my own life. That is, while Jesus carried out the death sentence that was on me, it would not have any positive effect if I didn’t accept it.
There was a logic to it, but it was beyond logic too. And there was great resistance. I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t deny it.
Finally, I put the book down and turned my head to the wall and started praying. I caught myself and almost stopped. Then I caught myself catching myself and continued on.
I turned myself in.
It was the next day, in Mazatlan, while Anne took a nap, I took a walk on the beach. I got to considering what I’d done, the new (old) information I’d just been exposed to and the decision I’d made. That’s when it hit.
Suddenly it all made sense. I saw everything with new eyes. A smile came over me so wide it almost broke my face. The tears started flowing.
I knew Anne would hardly be able to believe it. Or anybody else. I could hardly believe it. I was a new man, profoundly and permanently. I knew that.
Anne began to see it too, as we drove along, talking. She saw my change and in time she believed and was made new, too.
It was a life altering change in us . . . and for us.
A year later–another new birth, our first child, Allison, born at home. (Click to enlarge.)
As it happens, last weekend I spoke on the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son, which was perfect as it’s my story. With apologies for the informality of it all, and some recording glitches, I offer the link here.
PS In the talk I refer to three paintings. They’re on an old blog, here: 2003-7
Save the Dates:
Home and Studio Show, May 7-8
Once again we’ll be showing and sharing lots of new work, and enjoying the company of guests and friends at our Studio Show and Sale. It will be the afternoons and evenings of May 7 and 8. That’s Mother’s Day weekend. Feel free to bring her, and any other friends. (Here’s a tour from a previous blog.)
33752 Big Sur, Dana Point, California.
Our Lives Together, Available Now
Though the above story is the only of that particular experience, all are revealing, insightful, and entertaining. Everyone should have a book of their formative years. Here’s ours. Full of photos, all classic and candid. 140 pages.
For a taste of other topics, and for ordering info click here.