Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
The last thing I ever wanted to be was a preacher. I can
remember wanting to be a lot of things. I had a great fascination with
dinosaurs and space growing up. I'm sure at some point I wanted to be a paleontologist
but I didn't really know that word back in second grade. Then I wanted to be an
astronaut - that was my first big dream. However, I get motion sick when riding
in the back seat of a car and science has been my academic downfall since grade
school. The next big plan was archaeologist - but see the previous sentence and
that science thing. Finally, I settled on being a writer. I loved, and still
love, writing and reading. Pulp writers such as Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice
Burroughs have captured my fancy since my younger years. One of my father's
greatest legacies has been passing these amazing authors and their books onto
me. I wrote and wrote, and submitted and submitted. Alas, the only letters I
received were ones of rejection.
In the midst of it all I met the love of my life and became
a salesman. I remember telling her early in our relationship, "I'll do
anything, but I never want to be a salesman." Funny how things work out
isn't it? You have to understand, I'm shy, quiet and just not a people person.
Somehow this turned into a successful career in sales. I've been doing it for
almost 23 years now. That's right, for 40 hours a week I am a professional
toilet salesman - a far cry from exploring the galaxy, studying ancient cultures
and writing best-selling novels. However, in my wildest dreams, perhaps I would
have called them nightmares then, I never imagined being a Baptist preacher.
I became an atheist in 11th grade, somewhere around 1986. I
recall reading Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" and William Golding's
"Lord of the Flies." I don't blame these books for leading me into
atheism, but somehow, especially "Mythology", they did. I remember
thinking how Jesus and the chronicle of the Bible were as much myth as the
mighty heroes, gods and titans of ancient Greece. I wrote off any belief in the
supernatural and embarked on my skeptical view of life.
I confess I remained rather conservative in my views. I classified
myself as a Republican and was always staunchly pro-life. I never embraced
evolution as it seemed to require too much faith as well. Understanding the
origin of life and the universe could comfortably remain a mystery for me. A
static universe seemed to be an acceptable theory, but honestly, I didn't ponder
such things often.
I had a Bible that I always kept tucked back in my closet
more out of nostalgia than any kind of faith. It had been given to me back in
1st grade during vacation Bible school at Tigert Methodist Church by a
wonderful, elderly lady named Mrs. Freeze. Despite rejecting Christianity, I'd
enjoyed that little old lady so much I could not bring myself to toss out that
Bible she had given me. It would come back to haunt me one day.
It strikes me as strange - I've never achieved my greatest dreams.
I never strapped myself into the seat of a space ship and rocketed through the
earth's atmosphere into the cold depths of the solar system. I've never been on
a dig at some ancient site of early civilization , or excised the bones of some
prehistoric behemoth. I've never seen my name splayed across the glossy cover
of a novel with "New York Times Best-Selling Author" under my name.
I've sold a lot of toilets, tubs and faucets though. And the most unlikely
thing? I've been preaching the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for six
years now. How does an atheist toilet salesman with grandiose dreams of
becoming a xeno-archaeologist novelist become a Baptist preacher? I'll have
more on that next time...