"I can understand how people don't believe. I can understand how people fervently believe. What I can't understand, is how people casually believe." (about God). C.S. Lewis. Parenthesis mine.
Eric Wheeler was nearing the end of his rope. He was about ready to hang up on me, and looking back, he probably should have. It was our first conversation. The only reason he endured as long as he did was because of his friendship with my brother. Eric didn't know it at the time but he was to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's (my) back.
I had been looking into Christianity for quite some time and despite the myriad of challenges I presented to my aforementioned brother and my good friend Pastor Bob Morrison, I had to admit it. Their claim was supported by the facts. There is one God, Jesus is His Divine Son and the Bible is the Word of God. This troubled me greatly. I didn't much care for the ramifications. You see, I was too new to perceive the Holy Spirit's part in all this. I viewed my theological conclusion as purely intellectual. The fact that my double brother (spiritual and biological) was, for many reasons, the ideal person to introduce me to the gospel seemed completely coincidental. As If that wasn't enough, I had literally picked Pastor Bob's church, randomly, from the phone book. My brother was in Colorado and I was in Ohio so we only communicated over the phone. Pastor Bob was to be the only face to face influence I would have during my spiritual search. And let's be real here, why in the world would a Pastor, who had a fuller plate than you would even guess, take time to deal with a complete stranger who was constantly peppering him with annoying questions? Well, it wasn't of this world and I'm forever appreciative that he did. Pastor Bob has a unique combination of humility and strength of conviction. I've never met anyone quite like him. He never ignored my questions and he never once looked down on me. I know now, it was a Divine appointment that put me with Pastor Bob. I doubt there is one other clergyman who would have put up with me as he did. I wouldn't have been able to blame them either.
My brother and Pastor Bob did much heavy lifting with me and for that I'm eternally thankful. But I wasn't yet ready to take the final, or more literally, baptismal plunge.
Coming to the Lord, for me, was much like investigative journalism. I read many books and watched hours of video; debates and the like. Most of the content was suggested to me by my brother. One of the last books he recommended was written by a man he knew personally. He described him as a modern day prophet. His name was (still is) Eric Wheeler and he wrote a book titled "In His Service." Now, at this point I was just coming to terms with the ideal of Old Testament prophets: Modern day prophets?? C'mon man!
If someone other than my brother had vouched for this guy, I would have laughed in their face. But I know my brother and I knew he wasn't lying. Mistaken, perhaps, lying, no chance. So I read the book. It was fascinating. Despite the super natural aspect that permeates from start to finish, it somehow rang true. I mentioned to my brother that I would like to speak with this guy. As I recall, it just came up casually in conversation but my brother said, "here's his number, call him anytime." So I did.
I called him looking for an off ramp... OK this stuff is true but what's wrong with dipping the toe in before deciding to dive. I must have said that, or something similar a dozen times. Until the last time his answer never changed. "You need to go all in, repent and be baptized." The last time, it was more along these lines: "Look, you called me and I've had enough, you're not ready for this, give it up!" To which I replied, "You're right, all in is the only way. I guess I have to be baptized." Within a week Pastor Bob baptized me. And he was thrilled to do it. I didn't realize that Pastor Bob's son was about to go home to the Lord after a courageous bought with cancer. I don't think I've ever been able to convey to him just how much everything about my baptism meant to me. I would wish that everyone has the kind of baptism experience that I did.
I ended up moving to Colorado. I felt that the Lord called me there to "train." That "modern day prophet" I so exasperated, is now as good of a friend and brother as I have in this world. I have been trying to follow the Lord for several years now and my last assignment put me in Florida with my elderly father. Dad is now home with our Lord
Eric and I have both felt that, at some point, we would be called out to minister together. Until very recently, some point, seemed vaguely distant. No longer. We spoke in length this past Sunday and a general plan just seemed to take shape. Supernatural confirmations are hard to convey and I'm not going to try do that right now but after our conversation Sunday we agreed to pray and discuss later. Both of us came to the agreement that our decision was in line with the Holy Spirit. I already had a trip to Ohio planned and Eric was bound for Tennessee. You will just have to trust me (or not) as to other clear confirmations we were both fortunate enough to receive. Perhaps they will pop up in other entries as, Lord willing, I am going to write a journal of our adventure. Our tentative plan is to meet in Tennessee on September 18th........stay tuned.
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I plan on meeting Eric in TN. this coming Monday, September 18th. As I ponder what lies ahead for us, the Lord impressed on me how importan...
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"I can understand how people don't believe. I can understand how people fervently believe. What I can't understand, is how peop...