Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Few Thoughts on 35 Years of Walking (sometimes crawling)With the Lord

It was a warm Hawaiian night in Maui in 1977 and I could not make up my mind. I was on a solitary spiritual crusade and I could not decide between a evangelistic church service and a Buddhist festival across the street in Lahaina.
That was thirty-five years ago this summer when I was at the intersection of faith and forgiveness. Even though I was living the island life, working on-air at KMVI in Maui, I was a total train wreck.  I had burned just about every bridge I could find. Relationships, career and emotional stability were all victims of my compulsive, selfish and destructive behavior.
My mystical pilgrimage had been reduced to two paths: Buddhism or Christianity, so the proximity of these events was a perfect illustration of the choice I was facing. For over an hour I literally went back and forth between the church and the temple. It became clear, Buddah was the great 'maybe,' while Jesus said He was the only way. 
So, I ended up at the church, pictured above, and made famous by the Eagles on their Hotel California album in the song, 'The Last Resort.'
What waited for me at the church was a major culture shock. I was coming out of a career in rock radio and I stepped into a flaming charismatic service where the pastor's wife led worship on a trombone and sang in tongues. Really.
Add to that, no one except me showed up for the service, and I mean no one. The pastor, his wife and me. Period.
God love him, the pastor went through the whole service for me, including the altar call.
You talking to me? End of story, I went forward, and then it all began.  Two days later, on Sunday he took me down to Hanakao'o Beach to be baptized. The beach was crawling with tourists, and we were in white robes, my own little 'Oh Brother, Where art Thou,' moment.
Then surprise! Just before immersion he said I would come out of the water speaking in tongues IF I was sincere. Uh, no. But I was genuine in my faith and today, thirty-five years later, I am hanging in and holding on.

I was brought into Calvary Chapel in an equally unique way.  After my disappointing baptism performance, my new and only Christian leader/friend gave me a bag of mangoes and sent me on my way without any direction.  I ended up on the Na Pali coast of Kauai wandering around looking for some tree house commune I had heard of. Probably good I didn't find it, I don't think they wore clothes. Eventually, on the remote coast, I sat on a rock and told God that I really gave up. Moments later, a guy came crashing out of the jungle with a cross around his neck and a Bible in his hand.  Really. He was from Shiloh, a Calvary Chapel house ministry in Honolulu and within an hour he paid to fly me to Oahu and get me involved in intense discipleship. And man, did I need it.  

All these years later, I am still involved in that process, I have been fortunate to be part of  the amazing work of Calvary Chapel. I've been able to travel to Israel numerous times and be part of outreaches all over the world. Etc.
When I started my radio career at WCHP (really) in Michigan, I never imagined I would use those skills to be part of many Christian media projects. 
I have a godly, gorgeous wife and spectacular children who all love the Lord. And now, grandchildren. Who knew?

Certainly, I have disappointed the Lord and myself, but learned a great deal about grace.
Here's a reality check for me:
John MacArthur took forty one years to teach through the new testament.  He said that time is so short that a man can only hope to adequately study one of the testaments in a lifetime!
In whatever time is left on my clock, I also want to upgrade my investment in those who live with so much less. The other day I was reading by the pool at my health club, the sprinklers were on behind me and I had a quart of ice water after my workout. Just then, I read an article about the large percentage of people who live without access to decent drinking water- and we literally swim in it. No condemnation, just conviction to live lighter so we can give more.
There was a time when all I cared about was my media career and the advancement of my name. Now, I know that I must decrease so Jesus can increase.

Maybe I have learned something in the past thirty-five.
In the meantime, I intend to go hard before we go home.


gary ford said...

Thanks for sharing :) Why are some of us so stubborn that we got to get to the very edge of the cliff and just about go over before we surrender to the lover of our souls. Thank you Jesus for caring for us lost souls.

Kevin Miller said...

What a story! Amazing. Love that the guy did an altar call for you!