I have made no attempt to present this testimony as authoritative on any subject. This is simply an attempt to relate the remarkable story of a simple sinner who found the immense Grace of the Creator, and the subsequent peace that follows. I have attempted to be as transparent as possible.
–C. Ryan Jenkins
The Early Years
Out of the Frying Pan and Into…
Roman Catholicism & My Father
US Army Airborne School
Persian Gulf War
The College Years Begin
The Beginning of the End
The Gospel Seed
A Faithful Friend
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) As I begin, I can’t help but think that there may be the occasional passer-by who having a prior knowledge of my past, is either exceedingly surprised by, or acutely skeptical of, the deeply religious character of this site. This is not meant, in any sense, to be a defense of my prior life, or even an attempt to apologize or explain away seeming inconsistencies. Quite to the contrary, this is the story of a man who was dead in his trespass and sin; a man who was sick, and yet was healed; a man who was blind but who now can see. Suffice it to say, While I still am a woefully unreliable sinner, I have cast off the many former ties to sin which bound me for so long, and am quite simply, a new creation…but more on this later.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) I was born on May 23rd, 1971, in the small city of Richmond, Ind. My mother was an immigrant from Yugoslavia (the portion which is now known as Croatia), and my father was one of five Irish Catholic siblings, born and reared in the heart of “hoosier” Indiana. To digress for just a quick moment, every time I contemplate the term “hoosier,” I mischievously reconsider Kurt Vonnegut’s remarks from “Cat’s Cradle.” Vonnegut is undeniably a Godless heathen, but his mastery of the written language is absolute. Nevertheless, I can’t spend much time relating the days of my youth because, quite simply, I remember almost nothing before the fifth grade, and even through the seventh grade my memory is quite sketchy. The important point to establish is that my Mother and Father bitterly divorced when I was in the first grade, which subsequently doomed me to weekday afternoons in the proxy of the Catholic Social Services. This consisted of long drives to Peoria, Illinois, to construe crayon drawings of my house and family, and weekday sessions with a counselor, which at the very least got me out of a half-hour of class (which my teachers were probably quite thankful for). As I was entering the sixth grade (at Holy Trinity Grade School, in Bloomington, IL. and still under the auspices of the Social Service), my Mother moved to Dallas, Texas to begin her own travel agency. I believe that I was too young to fully appreciate my mother, and probably, as do most youngsters, took her for granted. I was now only able to see her for Christmas, and my younger brother and I each spent half the summer with her (we were too much to handle simultaneously). As that night in the winter of 1981 drew to a close, and as my Mother walked out of our house to begin her long drive to Texas, little did I realize how limited the time was that I had left with her. Before I continue, let me ask the reader, if you have a Mother, to give her a call and tell her how much you love and appreciate her. You never realize how much she means to you, until she is gone, and then it’s too late. Let me assure you; when your Mother is gone, you will be exceedingly thankful for every kind word spoken, and intensely mournful for every bitter breath uttered.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) The first sign of trouble emerged when I was in the seventh grade. My Father had just come home from parent teacher conferences with my homeroom teacher, Sister Elizabeth. He sat me down on my bed upstairs, and began to cry. He began telling me how proud he was of me for scoring so highly on the National Achievement Tests, and how highly Sister Elizabeth had spoken of me. I didn’t understand why my Dad was crying though. Then he paused…and told me that my Mother had been diagnosed with cancer. He quickly told me that there was a good chance that the doctors would be able to treat it however, which seemed to calm him a bit. I really didn’t know how to react. I knew I loved my Mom, but I didn’t really understand the full implications of cancer. After all, there were people who survived this, weren’t there? Additionally, here was my Dad, telling me there was a good chance the Doctor’s would heal her. Case solved, right? So, I just stored this piece of information in my memory as a footnote. Things were normal for about the next two years, including the routine of Christmas and half summers, which served only to further reinforce my concept that everything was alright. Yes it’s true that my Mom had to go through Chemotherapy, but in my mind there was no way she could be dying. The one memory that painfully stands out from this period, was a warm summer afternoon in Dallas. Mom had just picked me up from the movie theatre, and I was complaining about something, and generally acting very inconsiderate and obnoxious. After about ten minutes of my tirade, my mom turned to me and said “You know, you’re going to be sorry when I’m dead that you treated me like this.” So how did I respond? Classic Chris Jenkins demeanor and wit, of course: “Yeah, right whatever.” Oh, if I could only go back to that foolish young kid and have him recant those words. How I wish, I could go back and cater to, and serve my Mom more faithfully.
The next summer (before my sophmore year in High School), my Mom died in a Dallas hospital. I’m pretty sure that she did not know the Lord as her Savior.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) From this point, I withdrew, and kept only a small circle of friends. High School flew by in a daze of irresponsibility and foolishness. Upon Graduation, I was on the waiting list to the University of Notre Dame (My Father’s, Uncle’s, and GrandFather’s Alma-Mater), and had been accepted at the University of Miami at Ohio(the founding spot, incidentally, of my eventual Fraternity). I really wanted to go to Notre Dame, but while my grades were good, they weren’t quite Notre Dame caliber, which is why I was ultimately rejected for admission. This was quite a let-down, to say the least. I had my heart set on Notre Dame ever since I was a first-grader, watching from the stands, a Dan Devine coached, and National Champion caliber, Football team. This led to a summer of frustration and serious disputes with my Father. Needless to say, I registered for classes, and attended the orientation for The University of Miami at Ohio, and was set to go, when the tension with my Dad finally came to a head one July evening. I can’t recall exactly what the dispute was over, but it’s sufficient to note that the debate became so heated that my Dad ordered me out of the house for good. Now I was, at this time, quite independently minded. I had read, with great enthusiasm, Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” and the “Fountainhead,” which at the time served to firmly etch autonomy, and the belief that I was the controller of my destiny, in my mind. So the next day, what did I do? I woke up from a friend’s house, and drove down to the Army recruiting station. Three months later, and after repeated apologies by my Dad, and pleas not to go through with it, I was on a bus to Fort Knox Kentucky. Yippee-hi-yaay!
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) Now you may be contemplating primarily two things at this point. First, Why hasn’t this guy mentioned Christianity yet, “I thought this was supposed to be a testimony!!!” And additionally, why I haven’t really expounded upon my relationship with my Father. The answer to the first is really quite simple. I was raised Roman Catholic, and while I attended Catholic Schools, was Baptized(not really, but more on that later), was Confirmed, and regularly attended Church, I had no true or substantive relationship with God. If you would have asked me at the time, I would have told you I was a Christian, as would all of my peers, just before we went out to get drunk, or chase the girls. In addition to living like the devil, as did 99% of this large midwest Catholic congregation, I had no understanding of the fundamental Christian concept of Grace. I understood what the Church taught about Jesus: that He died for our sins (whatever that meant), that He was God’s Son, and so on. My “faith” was nothing more than an intellectual assent about certain historical facts about the birth, life, death, and Ressurection of Jesus Christ. Did I believe in Christ? Sure!!! I also believed that Napolean was the Emperor of France at one time, and that Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theatre. But was I trusting Jesus for my salvation? I, and my Catholic contemporaries, were trusting Jesus for about as much as we were trusting both Napolean and Lincoln…zilch.
“You believe that there is one God. You Do well. Even the Demons believe–and tremble!”
James 2:19 (NKJV)
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) Again, if you would have additionally asked how I would justify myself to God in judgement when I died; and why I should be let into Heaven with the Saints, I would have told you: “I’ve been a pretty good person, and while I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve generally done more good than bad.” Consider this, lest you think that it was merely my “misunderstanding” of Catholic Doctrine. I’ve gone on survey visitation the last year with my church in what is overwhelmingly a Catholic community. We ask a series of questions to lead into the Gospel. The last question is this: “if you were to die today, and stand in judgement, and God was to ask you why should I let you into My Heaven, what would you say?” Almost 100% of the Catholics I have asked have responded just as I did, “because I’ve been a good person.” My friend, if that is your answer, and if you believe that your good works can satisfy a Holy and Perfect God, you are sorrowfully mistaken, and the consequences for being wrong about this are ETERNAL!!! With regard to the relationship with my Father, I’ve never been really close with my Father. My Dad has never been really big on exhibiting emotions, and actually maintains a very detached demeanor. I don’t know if he’ll ever peruse these pages, and I’m not complaining, believe me. My Dad has provided for me more than I could have ever asked! He’s made tremendous sacrifices to raise both my brother and I! I don’t even think I can describe how my Dad has been there for me, in good times and bad. Unfortunately, he is not saved, and even though my brother has preached the Gospel to him on different occasions, he will not let go of the sin in his life. So he keeps attending Church, as he was taught to do since he was a child, perhaps in the dim hope that tithing and the occasional Sacrament of Penance will lead someday to salvation. Dad, if you ever do read this, apart from trusting alone in Christ for the redemption of your sins, you (and all unrepentant sinners) are condemened to an eternity in Hell. It gives me no pleasure saying this, but it would be horribly unloving of me NOT to share the consequences for remaining in sin, and trusting in either yourself or an apostate and thoroughly corrupt Church for your salvation.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) So back to the story. I enlisted as a 19 Delta Cavalry Scout, and the Army was kind enough to throw in an option for Airborne school, in lovely Fort Benning Georgia. Far from being a vacation, basic training was a severe wake-up call! Although it was tough, I had a sure sense that I was finally making it on my own. It took about two weeks of the Basic training regimen of strictly no communication, no loitering, no anything but “Hustle, Hustle, Hustle,” before I was ready to call home and make amends with my Dad. The only problem was, we couldn’t even get to the phones until week 5. By that time, I was so lonely and starved for conversation, I think I would have called to talk to the devil ,if they would have let me. So things were patched up with my dad, and I told him that I’d be sending home a large chunk of my paycheck every month for him to invest for my college fund. He agreed, and it was back to Basic Training for me. I finished Basic Training, and headed off to the Army Basic Airborne School. Now, I had never considered that I would someday be jumping out of airplanes, let alone with a bunch of gung-ho crazed lunatics! But I had been sufficiently brain-washed in basic training by this time, that it was merely an after thought. I must say though that jumping out of that C-130 for the first time was one of the most incredible experiences of my life!!! We were flying at about 1500 feet when the Jumpmasters shouted “Stand-Up!” at which time the “stick” of ten jumpers on both sides of the plane stood. We then went through the pre-jump ritual of checking our, and our neighbors equipment, one last time. Then the Jumpmasters unlocked and opened the side doors to the plane, and a great SWOOSH of air came roaring through the plane. All of us trainees, yelled out in seeming bravado and courage, but there couldn’t have been one of us who wasn’t scared half to death. The Jumpmaster then gave the indication, for 1 minute (from the drop-zone), then 30 seconds, and before we knew it, that little red light turned to green, and the jumpmasters were telling us to stand in the door, and then shouting “Go!!” I will never forget that experience as long as I live! At any rate, I finished Airborne School, and received the customary “blood wings,” that was made infamous by that report on “20/20.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with bloodwings, it is a private ceremony, where you take off the stoppers at the end of the pins that are on the back of the airborne badge, and someone comes up and slams the badge, and the pins into your chest, until it is sticking there by itself. If it sounds gruesome, it isn’t all that bad, but remember that you have been thoroughly brainwashed by this time, and you wouldn’t think twice about rushing a machine gun nest, let alone worrying about these silly little pins in your chest. Next I received my marching-orders to Germany. Holy Cow, when I enlisted, I had no idea they’d send me to Europe!!! This was the beginning of my long and extensive experience with alchohol. There is no drinking age in Germany, and so as you might imagine, the incidence of drinking is extremely high in soldiers who are stationed here. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that I was out drinking with my buddies and the little German Fraus on many, many occassions, and when I finally returned to the United States two months after my 21st birthday, I already was a seasoned drinker.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) Before I get ahead of myself and leave out an extremely relevant portion of my life, I need to mention the events which began in August of 1990, in the little country of Kuwait. While Iraq had invaded Kuwait, and the United States had sent in the 82nd Airborne Division, we were still chugging along as usual in Germany. I was in an Armored Cavalry Squadron, charged with patrolling the tri-zonal point (the point where West Germany, East Germany, and Czhechoslovakia meet). As the United States began to commit more and more troops, my Dad was worried, and asked if I thought there was a possibility that I would be sent. I replied with brash confidence: “No way Dad, there’s still 300,000 Soviet troops in East Germany…No way we’re pulling out!” About one month later, while some friends and I were watching Nightline, a special report from the Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, interrupted the program and announced new troop committments. He then proceeded to list all the involved units, including ours. Less than one month later, I and my entire Squadron were on the coast of Saudi Arabia, unloading our Bradleys and Tanks from the ships, and preparing to move into the deep desert.
This was undoutedly one of the most miserable periods of my life. I was quite convinced that I would not be returning from this ordeal. I was in a front-line combat unit, which was eventually charged with seeking out the Elite Iraqi forces, the Republican Guard. Furthermore, I was in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, with four other crewman. It was our job to venture out ahead of the tanks (the mighty M-1 Abrams), and perform reconnaissance. Those were a long four months which eventually led up to our invasion. The first day of battle was pretty easy, and we met limited resistance. On either the second or third day (I can’t exactly remember) we had our major battle of the War. We had made great advances the previous day, and we were expecting to make contact with the Republican Guard very shortly. As we were beginnning to advance for the day, a terrible dust storm was raised, where you literally couldn’t see beyond 30 yards in front of you. We stopped while our air-squadron, composed of Cobra Attack Helicopters scouted ahead. After about an hour and a half, we started moving through the desert, in spite of the dust storm. Almost immediately, a report comes over our crew radio, that contact is imminent, and that some of the units to our side are taking fire. We couldn’t see with our normal optical sights, so we switched to our thermal sights. Thermal Sights pick up the heat signatures of people, or engines from vehicles, and are really an amazing invention. I honestly believe that the combination of the sand storm and our thermal sights allowed us to escape with so few casualties. The Iraqi’s didn’t have thermal sights, all they had was passive night vision, which merely amplifies existing light. This was utterly useless because there was already daylight, they just couldn’t see through the sand. We were so scared, we forgot all training about identifying before you shoot, and we “lit-up” everything with the slightest heat signature. This policy led to the destruction of a British Ammo track that had the misfortune of meandering onto the battle-field, not from my Bradley in particular, but from the Company to our left. It also led to us (my Bradley this time)shooting our 25mm Chain-Gun, and missing I might add, at a grazing camel and her baby, who were right in the middle of this raging tank battle. During the battle, I got down on my knees and prayed that if God would just save me from this whole mess, I would go to church every Sunday! That was my actual prayer!! It shows you how little I understood of God and His ways. When the final battle was over, my unit had four Bradley’s destroyed, with five men killed, and twenty wounded. When we surveyed the battle-field, it was littered with burning steel hulks, and mass carnage. I will take that distinct Barbeque-like smell that was present to my grave. As a matter of fact, I actually smelled it again, while I was writing this! We then jumped into Kuwait, and then back into Iraq, along the Euphrates river, to protect the rebels and occupy a portion of the Country, while Iraq sued for peace.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) So my tour of the Middle East lasted approximately 5 months, and when I returned with my unit to Germany in late April of 1991, it was a beautiful day! I even kept my promise to God to go to Church every Sunday…at least for four months anyway (talk about temporal faith!!!). Consequently, I had about a year to go on my Gemany tour, and when I finally was ready to bid adieu to Europe, the Army sent me to the 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. My last six months in the Army flew by, and I couldn’t wait to get out. I finally realized there are worse places to be than a classroom, namely in the Army, or even worse yet, a war! During these last six months, I had reapplied to Notre Dame, and after four years, and a few college courses under my belt, this time I was accepted. I was finally discharged in January of 1993, and I drove home, eager to start college the next fall. I relaxed and resumed my drinking and partying habits from the Army, but this time, I had the freedom of little or no responsibility. As summer began, I attended the Notre Dame orientation, registered for my classes in the pre-med program, and was assigned a roomate from Georgia. Everything was going great, it seemed, until that July curse got ahold of me again. If you’ll recall, I was registered at the University of Miami at Ohio, before a conflict with my Father changed my plans. Well, again my Father and I had a dispute, but this time of a different nature. Remember how I was sending a large portion of my checks from the military home every month for my Dad to invest? Well I had sent home $500 every month for three straight years, which comes to $18,000. My dad had parlayed that into over $56,000 with shrewd investing. Well since he was aware that I had these assets, of course, he expected me to pay for half of my education. If you are not familiar with the University of Notre Dame, let me explain that the school costs $23,000 per year. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that it was completely generous of him to even offer to pay half, but since it was his Alma Mater, I kind of expected him to take care of all of it. No such luck. So I told him “no way hose’,” I would enroll at the local State College, which was free tuition, since I was a veteran, and I was also going to be getting checks every month from the GI bill/College Fund which would total another $26,000. This is when I got the same disease that the prodigal had, and I told my Dad to liquidate all my stocks, because I needed the cash. I paid $12,000 in capital gains tax right off the bat, which I wasn’t too thrilled about, but hey, I still had $44,000 left, my school was taken care of and I was living at home, and the Government was sending $26,000 more!!! I thought I had it made in the shade. So what do I do? I went up to Indianapolis, and bought a 1987 black convertible Corvette, and I also bought a 1989 convertible 5 liter Mustang. To top it off, I bought a 1990 Honda CBR 600 motorcycle. My first year I went through through the Greek Rush process, and after getting bids from every house I visited, I pledged the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) Thus started my college years. I was involved in the Greek System, and I met about everyone on campus. I also proved that I could in fact be the biggest drunken idiot, among idiots I might add, that the campus had yet seen. In the course of a year I had spent every penny of my hard earned money, but thankfully, the government checks kept me going, and school was, after all, free. So now I began to accept credit cards and I began racking up a charge debt. I don’t particularly care to give the details of all the nonsense that went on through the Fraternity, but I wish I could go back and take it all back. I wish I could erase some of those memories that I once cherished, but now find repugnant. At the end of my Freshman year, I ran for Student Body Vice-President, on a campus of 20,000, and won. I was making more friends each day, and I was in the Honors program at school. Half way through the year, I decided to put together a ticket to run for Student Body President. We campaigned like mad, and ended up receiving the most votes in the history of the school, and I was only in my Sophmore year! Boy, was I arrogant back then. I felt like I had everything because of my own hard work and ability. I didn’t give the slightest thought to God. As a matter of fact, My Brother had been saved about three years prior, after moving down to Florida, and he had witnessed to me a countless number of times. I argued with him that he shouldn’t have left the Catholic Church. I used the same tired old arguments that I’ve heard from the Roman apologists, time and time again. Of course he was resolute in his beliefs, and my arguing did nothing to convince him, or did his sway my opinion for that matter. Life was continuing for me, and things seemed to be going great. But not really. That’s the paradox of Human success. You see, we’re all trying to fill that void that we feel with different pursuits. Some drink, some use drugs, some chase women, some chase great financial wealth, some surround themselves with friends, all in the expectation of some kind of fulfillment. At first, the new experience itself satiates you, but then you begin to want more. As you achieve more and more, the marginal return becomes less and less, until you become totally unsatisfied, and you begin to think that it would be better if you could only reach that next level. The paradox is that you will never fill that void with man-laden pursuits, because of the very nature of the void itself. You are trying to fill a God-shaped void with “wine, women, or song,” and it simply cannot work. The only thing that is going to fill that void is God Himself! That void results from the separation from our Creator. Do you ever wonder why you are motivated to accomplish or pursue various things? You are trying to fill that void in your life, even if you are not cognizant of it. This void is a result of a separation of the most intimate relationship we have, i.e., with our Creator. So at any rate, while I should have been on top of the world, I was really miserable inside. I had no idea that in the coming months I would be even more miserable.
“Pride goes before destuction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV)
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) So while I should have been on top of the world, I was really miserable on the inside. Before I begin to relate the next portion of my tale, It might be edifying to briefly describe a few of my more prominent traits and nuances. I was involved in politics, but I can tell you I was never cut-out to be a politician! I liked the popularity aspect of it, and the initial feeling that I had some power to actually represent a constituency (Boy, was I way off base!). But here’s where I ran into real trouble. Ever since I can remember, I have been blessed with(or cursed with, depending on your perspective) an extremely loose and blunt tongue(fingers in this case:-). I have always endeavored, successfully, to call a “spade-a-spade,” and I never concerned myself with who’s rosebeds I was trampling through to do so. I’ve always thought that a true leader said what needed to be said, and not(if different than that) what the masses wanted to hear. I can assure you that not only is this trait not an asset in politics, it is an outright liability! Looking back on things, I’m surprised I survived as long as I did. Without going into great detail, here’s essentially what happened. The summer after my election (and one month into my term as President) I took off for the summer to try to make some money selling books, so I could pay off what was becoming a stifling credit-card debt. Upon hearing that I had left the campus for a job, the campus newspaper became quite indignant (especially since I was quite obviously a spoiled Fraternity rich boy), and began a crusade to whip up student opinion that I was the worst President this campus had ever seen. How could I have dared to leave the campus for a summer job??!! Forget that there is absolutely nothing in the Student Government Constitution which stipulates that a President must remain on campus for the summer. Well, while I’m getting all this negative press, I’ve got friends giving me all kinds of different advice. Some are saying “write back, and defend yourself,” and others are admonishing silence so that I don’t give any credibility to these attacks. In addition, The University President is trying to ram-rod a fee increase through the Board of Regents for campus improvements, even though the student-body voted it down, and he assembled all of the previous student leaders to jump on the band wagon in support of it all. Well this was just too much for me to handle, so of course I blasted everybody and their brother who was in support of this campus project, and I let them know in no uncertain terms what I thought of both their stance, and them personally…Big Mistake! Now remember that while all this is going on, I’m still a full time Honors student with medical school hopes, and this is my first semester of Organic Chemistry. It soon became apparent that I was not going to be able to run Student Government, fend off countless attacks, maintain high grades, and still maintain a resemblence of sanity. So what was my solution…fall back on drinking of course!! Now by this time, I had sufficiently angered enough people, that I soon learned that a group of eight people had begun circulating a petition to bring me back up for recall election, but in the meantime, they introduced an article of impeachment in the Student Assembly. So there I am, on the front page of the Campus Newspaper, with the headline “Jenkins Faces Impeachment.” The charges truly bordered on the bizarre. One of the charges stated that “someone from the Executive Staff(not named), had broken into the Student Regents office,” for an unknown reason. I wasn’t named as the individual, nor had there even been an official investigation into this allegation, but there it was, a charge against me in the impeachment, nonetheless. The list of my atrocities went on, and without wasting too much time on this, the impeachment failed, but by this time the press had done a sufficient enough job that I looked like a thoroughly incompetent leader, and by now the petitioners had gathered the 5% signature requirement to place me on the ballot for recall in thirty days. Man, I sure didn’t anticipate this when I was campaigning! Well, as I said, I was having a hard enough time juggling all these balls without having to campaign again, and with a hostile Campus newspaper calling for my head, things were looking pretty glum. At this time our Fraternity was having it’s Annual Fall Bid Night, and I figured that I’d lose myself in a drunken stupor for the weekend to forget my troubles, as I’d done in the past. The party started at about nine, by which time I had helped myself to a fair amount of the free booze that was being offered in celebration of our new pledges. Little did I realize, that in less than five hours, I had an appointment with destiny.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) At this point, I’m seriously considering resigning, because to be quite honest, I really didn’t like facing the daily articles from the Campus Newspaper which humiliated me in front of a campus of 20,000+. The only problem was that I’ve never been a quitter, and it was a repugnant thought to entertain the notion that I had allowed myself to be chased off by people I considered to be sheer and utter degenerates. Well, it soon appeared that a certain event was about to force my hand in this particular area. I had a good friend come down for the weekend, and he convinced me to leave the party, and head out to the bars with him. Less than two hours later, as we were driving to another bar, I was pulled over and eventually charged with a DUI. Of course this was on the front-page of Monday’s paper, along with a derisive cartoon of the whole situation. I almost felt a sense of relief when I typed up my letter of resignation, because I knew that at least I wouldn’t be hounded by the press any longer. I hope that you never find yourself the victim of vindictive individuals with the power of print journalism, it is definitely not a pleasant experience. This was probably the second worst period of my life. When I went to classes, I could hear folks whispering as I walked by, “that’s him, did you hear what happened…” I stopped going to classes, and managed to field a 0.0 GPA that semester (a new low, even for our Fraternity). This also dashed any hopes I once had of Medical School, so it seemed that in the course of one semester, most of my dreams had come crashing down around my head. The Bible says that Pride comes before the fall, and I can personally attest, Does it ever!!! One might think that now is the time when I surely came to know Christ. Nope, God wasn’t ready for me just yet. I was still wrapped up in the pursuit of the previously mentioned “Human Success Paradox”. I honestly thought that I was really close to finding that fulfillment I was looking for, but that other people had cheated me out of it, when I was so close. In my mind, I just needed to get back on top, and then I’d get the hithero elusive fulfillment that I’d been searching for. I know that I’m a pretty stubborn, hard headed, knuclehead, when you get right down to it. It seems like the only lessons that I really learn from, are the hard ones. I sure don’t like them, but I imagine that God knows better than I what’s best. So I spent the next year rebuilding my reputation, my self-esteem, and my life. I regained much of what I thought I had lost, but I still wasn’t in possession of that true satisfaction that I really wanted. Summer quickly approached, and I decided to sell books again for a second summer. I again finished in the top 3% of Company sales, and won another trip to Mexico for Thanksgiving. It’s interesting to note, that while selling books door-to-door is a thoroughly miserable experience, I learned a significant amount about myself through it, and more importantly, the all important seed of the Gospel would be planted because of it.
Flame1.gif (21280 bytes) I was in the last weeks of my summer, which was a great feeling, when I trecked up this steep hill to this lone house. When I got up there, I knocked on the door, gave my pitch, and this older guy lets me in. Well, I’m thinking that he’s probably not the best prospect, but I figure that I’ll give it a go anyway. I ascertain that he’s deeply religious, so I pull out an incredible ten volume children’s Bible set that I’ve got, in the hopes that maybe he’s got some Grandchildren he could buy it for. I give the presentation, and he really likes it, and he tells me to come back later in the week. Now in the book selling business, this is a sheer no-no (they’re called suicide calls), but I’m a sucker for a potential sale, so at the end of the week, I marched right back up that infernal hill. He lets me in again, but it soon becomes apparent, he is not interested in buying anything at all. As a matter of fact he gives me a Bible tract, and tries to quickly witness to me. I told him that I really appreciated his attempt, but that I really had to get moving, and that I’d take a look at the tract when I got a chance. The rest of the day, it seemed like that little booklet was burning a hole in my pocket! I finally sat down on a curb, and started to read the tract. I knew there was truth in what was said, and it explained things clearer than I had ever heard them (but I wasn’t completely clear on the Gospel yet). I knew I needed a change in my life, and this sure seemed like a good answer. When I got to the end, and read about confessing Christ, I became a little worried. What if I said the prayer, but then nothing changed in my life? What would I do then? I resolved to hold on to the tract, and think about it a bit more, but in the meantime, I got back to work.This was, of course, a big mistake. It wasn’t long before I was distracted by my own selfish pursuits, and I had pushed the Gospel back to the recesses of my memory. As I said, I finished really well, and I was really pleased with myself when I got back to school. The fall semester after this was another disastrous academic semester, because I was Social Chairman for the fraternity this semester, and I guess I decided that these responsibilities were more important than my studies. I finished this semester, more dissatisfied than ever. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of confusion and absolute discontent. It was about a week after Christmas that I remembered the old man and the tract.