Growing up in the delta of eastern Arkansas I was just an ordinary kid, 100% boy. Hunting, fishing and baseball were in my blood from the start. My granddad grew up living off the land, hunting, commercial fishing, and trapping for food and money. His passion for the outdoors passed right on down to his four boys, then on to me. Even though neither my granddad nor my dad taught me what I now know about bass fishing, I owe all of my outdoors skills to them because they both kept me in the woods or on the water during much of my childhood, which is where the seed was planted.
Then there was baseball, which was where I was going to make my millions. But after suffering injuries to both ankles, and a good dose of reality, I left my hat and glove on the bench after the last game of my senior year at Arkansas State University and never looked back.
It was through baseball, however, that I first met and became friends with Keith Garner. Keith and I were also members of a small high school fraternity called Delta Sigma. Each month we would have to get-together as a group to participate in a local social event, or our "Good Turn" for the month. So one Sunday we decided to all go to Vanderbilt Baptist Church, which was where Keith's dad, Bro. Bill Garner, was the pastor. I felt very uncomfortable that Sunday. This was the beginning of my conviction. My parents loved me very much, but I was just not required to be at church on Sundays, so I wasn't. Ironically, Keith and I became good friends and he kept inviting me to come to church, and I started going more and more. The conviction kept growing stronger and stronger and I wanted to walk down the aisle after every invitation but my pride just wouldn't let me. There were people I knew there - girls, teammates, etc.
Finally, after the service one Wednesday night, I stayed and asked Bro. Bill if I could talk to him about it, and when he closed the door I didn't have to say a word. He gave me a big hug and asked me if I would like to accept Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior. After gladly accepting the invitation he told me to come forward the following Sunday. With the help of Jesus this time, I went forward, and to my surprise when I looked out across the congregation, I didn't see any negative, critical people, just teary-eyed people who were sinners like me, now saved by the grace of God.
There's a country music song by Aaron Tippin that has a lot of spiritual truth and describes my life up to that day perfectly. It says, "You've got to stand for something or you will fall for anything. You've got to be your own man, not a puppy on a string."
Even though I wasn't the worst kid on the block, if this group wanted me to join in, I would. Then if another group wanted me to do something just the opposite, I would.
You know, many people look for happiness in so many different ways: through money, divorce, prestige, alcohol or drugs, etc. I'm just so thankful that God showed me the way. There have been many struggles and tragedies in my life since that time, but I now have help from the One who can get me through any problem. He may take me on a different route, and many times I don't like it, but I always know that now I'm headed in the right direction!
If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, and feel led to do so, you can right now and have the peace that the Bible says goes beyond our understanding. Simply pray this prayer in faith.
"God I know I'm a sinner, God come into my life and forgive me of my sins. God I trust you now as Lord and Savior of my life. Thank you Lord, Amen."
See Romans 10:9, 10 & 13
I want to be the first to say congratulations and if I never meet you in this life, I'll see you in heaven!
If you are ever in the West Memphis/Marion, Arkansas area, please stop in and worship with me at Angels Way Baptist Church.
God Bless & Good Fishing,