Warning: This blog is brutally honest
From the time I was touched by God on a mountaintop in New Mexico in 1969 until about 1980, I strove with every ounce of my being to remain pure in my walk with God and avoid the pitfalls I saw so many of my friends and leaders falling into. Unlike most of my peers, I took my relationship with God VERY SERIOUSLY. I cherished it and refused to allow either pressures or pleasures to distract or disturb the fellowship I enjoyed with my God. I diligently studied God's Word, prayed faithfully and strived to be blameless in my walk before God and men.
At some point in 1980 I started allowing myself small liberties per the relentless suggestions from my superiors to loosen up . I was dragged to drinking establishments and drank too much. I was dragged to filthy clubs where all I wanted to do was hide under the table. My leader at the time was adamant that I get out of my legalistic manner of living and enjoy the liberty we have in Christ. After fighting the whole idea for quite awhile, I finally realized that if I did not do as I was being told, I would be out of a job. At some point in 1980, I made the worst decision of my life, which was to violate everything I knew to be right from God's Word and start pushing the envelope as far as my behavior.
In the years that followed, my life and ministry slowly but surely fell apart. Even when I was transferred to a new state with a different regional leader who was much more legalistic , I continued in the habit patterns I had developed previously, only then I was doing them in secret instead of in full view. In 1982 I was called on the carpet for things I had supposedly said and done. Some of these things were accurate but many were flat out lies. I was put on probation and given a very short leash. I felt horrible about what had happened and I remember vividly spending a weekend at a motel crying my eyes out before God as I recited Psalms 51 over and over again. If ever there was a contrite man, it was me at that time.
In 1983 the head of the ministry finally found out about the things that came to light in 1982. By then, the truth had been twisted and turned around so much there was not much truth left. In August of 1983 I received a letter from the head of the ministry basically telling me that my days were numbered as far as being a leader and that he would personally make sure my life was a living hell. He was a man of his word. For the next year, I lived under a cloud of suspicion and constant harassment for things I did not do. Slowly but surely, what was left of my relationship with God dried up and blew away. In due time I went off the deep end spiritually and did things that were inexcusable.
In June of 1984 I was officially fired and sent out to pasture in a desolate part of the country to go away forever. I went there but I was hurt, bitter and most of all spiritually devastated. I went through the motions of doing my job as a low level leader but my heart was not in it. My reputation and ministry were shot, my marriage was hopelessly wrecked and 95% of my friends had decided I was the antichrist and had nothing to do with me. I felt alone, forsaken and at my wits end. If it were not for a handful of people who had followed me to that desolate place, I would have surely succeeded in driving off a mountain.
By 1985 when I more or less officially left the ministry, I was sure that God did not love me anymore and that I had forfeited all my eternal rewards. I held to the hope that maybe I might squeak into heaven but no more. I felt 100% worthless, useless and hopeless. As time went on, I slowly but surely reached the bottom of the valley of the shadow of death from which at the time I thought there would be no way out. To say I was in a dark place at the time would be the world's greatest understatement. To say I was locked in the dark night of the soul would be putting it mildly.
At the time, all I knew was that I had been thrown under the bus by a ministry and a man (the head of it) that I had devoted the best years of my life to serving. All I knew was that the devil had taken a young, impressionable and naïve man and so twisted his thinking on all matters that he no longer had a clue what was right or wrong. I was a complete and utter mess.
If my story ended here, it would rank as one of the world's greatest tragedies. But, the same merciful God who pulled me out of the murk and mire of seclusion and isolation in 1969 was not about to let me self destruct fifteen years later. God's reconstructive program ended up taking 20 years. Amazingly, it took 20 years to undo all the junk a ministry that supposedly stood for the one true God did to me in the course of 15 years. Of all the things that God had to get me over, far and away the two biggest were the intense condemnation I lived in and the belief that I had forfeited my eternal rewards and perhaps even my eternal life. What God did to turn me around and revive me is coming in the blogs which lie ahead. God is good and He is the God of mercy.
The old saying is honesty is the best policy !
He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Honesty can bring you a blessing ,but it can also bring a curse,people say that they want the honest truth but when you give them the truth then they reject you as they did when they rejected their own parents after receiving the honest truth .
Be always blessed forever !
"God is good and He is the God of mercy."
This blog has brought immense sadness to my spirit for it has brought to the surface memories of my own pastoral ministry that was cut short in a hurtful way for the head deacon who engineered my departure then took over the leadership. Like you it took place in 1985 and it has taken me 20 years before God was able to use me again. But Gods faithfulness and moulding has been wonderful.
Your blog, which I know was not easy to write, is a testimony of the love, mercy and grace of God. Yes, it has been a difficult road you have had to walk and yet God has taken that which was meant for evil and as John said, used it to mold and make you into the man you are today. A man whom my husband and I are honored to know and call our friend and brother.