Most people would say I had it all – a wonderful career, and wonderful home, a wonderful wife and family. I just never had much time to enjoy them. Like so many professional people I was trapped in a “velvet prison” – successful, secure, and comfortable by anyone’s standards – yet unable to freely and fully enjoy the fruit of my hard work. In my heart, I knew that there must be a way to truly experience ALL that life offers, and I was determined to find it! The Bible says in Proverbs 10:22, “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” And in Joshua 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
On a Sunday morning in April 1990, two years after I had gotten saved, I stood before my church family and asked each to pray for me, because God had called me to preach. That was very frightening for me, but very exciting at the same time. Friend, I ran from God for the next seven and a half years.
I graduated from a major university in 1972, and I immediately started work as a salesman for a major company. After receiving a couple of promotions, I decided to leave that company to go to work as a sales representative for a national sporting goods company. I had played sports all of my life, so to me this was a dream come true. This position led me to open my first business – my own sporting goods store. I had arrived. Five years out of college I had my own business at the age of 26. I eventually had three stores and then sold out to my partner for a good sum of money. Immediately following that, I opened another sporting goods store with a friend of mine, and that store grew to be one of the largest in the state. I was riding high – a condo at the lake, a Corvette, a boat, an airplane license, and eventually a 2400 sq. ft. house with a pool and the Corvette, a Porsche, and a Cadillac in the driveway. After five years of building that sporting goods store to a million dollar operation, I lost interest. Inside me there was an emptiness, but I did not know why – I needed something else. My marriage at this time was also starting to suffer, because all of my time was spent on making money, and I had been doing a good job at that.
A friend of mine was doing well in the mobile home business. He told me that he was making more money in that business than anything he had ever been in. That was all I needed to hear. I was in. In April of 1986, I started selling mobile homes for one of the largest companies in the industry. By November of 1986 I was promoted to Assistant Manager, and I got my big break in February of 1987, when I was promoted to General Manager and transferred to Panama City, Florida. The money was rolling in again. I packed up and moved to Panama City, leaving my wife behind to sell the house, but at that time I was not sure if she would follow me to Florida. I loved my wife, but I had my money and my job, and that was important to me. My wife did move to Florida in July of 1987, and I was very happy to have her here with me. We bought a condo at Panama City Beach, and life seemed to be great.
Let me interject something really strange that happened to us. Since our marriage was in need of help, we decided to start going to church. We had tried everything else. Attending church for a few months seemed to satisfy us. One weekend I returned home from a trip to hear that my wife had gotten saved. “You got what?” I asked. I had only heard this term from my mother-in-law, and that’s where my wife had been visiting when this “saved” thing took place. At first I thought it was just something she did to please her mom. When my wife got home, I offered her a beer like all good husbands do, and she refused. Something was different… I had lost my drinking buddy. She had gotten saved on January 10, 1988, and I was still unsaved and unsure as to what was going on. I still had my work though, and that was what was important.
We went to church that next Sunday and found out that a weeklong revival was about to start. My interest in going was to hear the speaker – a former chaplain at a large prison in upstate New York. I thought it would be entertaining, but it turned out to be life changing. I was captured by this man. I had never heard preaching like this in my life. He was loud, and colorful, and he knew everything about me. I was drawn to this man. Little did he know that God was throwing out the line, and I was biting - hook line and sinker. For the first time in my life, I had met a man that was better than me. Pride was a big part of my life, and I always thought I was better than anyone else. Every night we went to the services, and every night something was grabbing hold of me more and more. Finally on Sunday morning, I went to the evangelist after service, thanked him again for such a great week of preaching, and told him I hoped to see him again someday. He informed me that there was one more service that night, and that I needed to be there. I informed him that I could not attend because it was Super Bowl Sunday and that I would be watching the Super Bowl. He said that I needed to come, and I said I couldn’t. He said to come. I said, “NO.” Finally, for some unknown reason, I gave in. I figured I could tape the Super Bowl and watch it later. While I had that thought in my mind, that preacher said for me to sacrifice the Super Bowl, come to the service, and not even tape the game. This man knew what I was thinking! I could not understand why I was even listening to this man. I hated to be controlled. To make a long story short, I came to church that night, January 31, 1988, on Super Bowl Sunday. That preacher preached a message about Hell. For the first time in my life, Hell was real to me. When the invitation was given, I nearly ran down the aisle, and God saved this old wicked sinner. What a glorious day! I was 38 years old.
After that, I was hungry for the Word of God. I soon started seeking preaching like I had heard at the revival, because that kind of preaching was not preached at the church that we were attending. My wife and I drove 75 miles to visit the church where she got saved, because we did not know of one locally. We had never looked for this type of church, but we knew God wanted us in a Bible preaching, Bible teaching church. While we were visiting that church, the pastor told us about a little church in Panama City that we should attend. He said that the preacher was straight on the Word of God. So, in April of 1988, we attended Bible Believers Baptist Church for the first time. This church was different from any other I had ever been to. This preacher was also loud, colorful, and he knew everything about me too! There was a man in back that said, ”Amen” so loudly that it scared me. I actually had to turn around and look to see what was going on. All he was doing was praising God in a way I had never seen before. We ended up joining that church after a while, and it was in that church that I started to learn the Bible. It was also in that church that I announced to my friends that God had called me to preach. I got involved in a jail ministry, of all things, and have been active in that ever since. God was getting me primed for His service. I had other plans.
The mobile home business was going very well. God was really blessing my family. My wife and I were happier than we had ever been, and church was great. But, I started getting greedy again. I wanted more money. I left my job – a very good one, and opened up my own mobile home dealership. I was back in business for myself again. God blessed initially, but as I got wrapped up in my business, my business started to decline. After a year and a half, I decided to close the business. I had lost just about everything we had, with the exception of about $30,000 that my wife and I had in a money market fund. Most of that money was from my wife’s retirement savings, as she worked for seven years before we moved to Panama City. Our choices were twofold: bankruptcy or liquidate our savings and pay off our debts. We transferred all the money to the bank and started writing checks. This was one of the worst days of my life. Money was very important to me, and now I had none. I was broke.
I was able to go back to work in the mobile home business, but I had to move away in order to get the big job. I felt like a failure anyway, so I was sort of glad to move away. I had not even thought about my calling, I just wanted to start over and rebuild my savings account. I was too stupid to see what God was trying to do. Truthfully, I was miserable, and God was doing me a favor by getting me out of my business. But, I countered by moving, or maybe I was just running.
After about six months, I got completely out of the mobile home business. The emptiness was there again as I ventured into the construction business. At this point, my salary was $14, 400 a year, and we lived in a 14x70 foot mobile home. This was quite a contrast from a condo at the beach. As always I worked my way up. In three months, I was promoted from Sales Manager to General Manager of the firm that I was with. My salary doubled, but it was still a far cry from the money I was used to making. God humbled me, but he took good care of me. After two years we longed to go back to our church home in Panama City. We had been active in church, but we wanted to go back where we had gotten saved. We told God that if He sold our mobile home that we would move back. He did. So I worked month’s notice, trained my successor, and we put everything we had left into a Ryder truck and headed south. You would think that by now God would have my attention. He did somewhat, but not fully. I was back to work in the construction business, and in about two years I was promoted to Assistant Region Manager of a national construction company – big salary, company car, flying around and staying out of town two to three nights a week. My family did not enjoy this, but I enjoyed the power. I was back where I wanted to be. All along I was getting farther from God. Because I was backslidden, my wife and son were also backsliding. My call was all but forgotten.
Six months later I was promoted to Region Manager. I was one of only eight Region Managers in the entire company – one that did business in thirty three states. My income was approaching six figures, but I was travelling more than ever. My work caused me to be away from home almost every Wednesday, therefore I started to miss Wednesday services. I was still teaching Sunday School to our teen boys, and I was still a deacon, but in my heart I was in the world. I was once again big time – a corporate figure. Once again I was becoming miserable. I was living a phony life. Preaching in the jails seemed satisfying, but I was drifting away from God. Every Sunday at church I would cry, because I knew I was not being honest with God. But as soon as I left the church building I would shake it off and get my mind on work or building a new house. I was in the world, and the devil had me once again. Corporate America had become my god!
God allowed a veteran missionary to come to our church to preach in September 1997. He preached two messages. The first message centered around Matt. 20:16 “for many be called, but few chosen.” Do you know why God has to call so many? Because few respond to His call. Most are like me. God calls them, and they are not submissive. They say, “God, I’ll teach Sunday School, but that’s it. My work keeps me too busy to do anything else.” That missionary preached about how we are soft, selfish, and not sensitive to what God really wants us to do. I went to the altar, and I cried. That afternoon, that message stayed on my mind, but I tried to suppress it. That night, the missionary preached Mark 14:8, “she hath done what she could”. WHAT CAN YOU DO? That night I told my wife that I wanted to give my life to God on a full time basis. Whatever He wants me to do, that is what I’ll do. I told her that I was going to have to get all the way in, or I was going to have to get all the way out. I could not straddle the fence any longer. I told God that as soon as he prepared me, that I would walk away from my job, from the money, and from the prestige of Corporate America, and do whatever he wanted me to do.
There are many of you out there that are just like me, and you will not give up your career to serve Him. Has God called you, but you won’t give in? The Bible says that we are to live by faith. Mark 9:23 says, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Phil. 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Col. 3:2 says, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” And finally, what are you doing about fulfilling the Great Commission? The Bible says in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” If you are saved, you are commanded to get the gospel out to this dying world. It is the Christian’s responsibility to get the message out. WHAT CAN YOU DO? If you are reading this tract and you have never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ to be your Saviour, then you need to do so today. Christ died for you. Romans 5:6 says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Bible teaches, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” On January 31, 1988, I bowed my head before an almighty God and admitted that I was a sinner, and I asked him to save my soul. If you are lost, please do as I did. Don’t wait. And once the Lord saves you, start serving him immediately. Don’t waste time as I did, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)