February 15, 2014
It was May 10, 1975, Saturday, tomorrow would be Mother's Day, only there would not be any cards, any telephone calls, we were not on the same page, regarding either of our lives. Today, I was on a bus headed for Tulsa, OK, hoping to find answers for my life so that I could get on with it.
Night was falling and we were crossing the desert, in route to Phoenix, AZ. I had always loved seeing the desert as the sun came up; now, I was enjoying it as the sun was setting. Beautiful.. peaceful...
I went to sleep, awoke as we were pulling into the bus station. Time for breakfast. Afterwards, we were headed towards Flagstaff, such a beautiful day. I began to realize that I was going to meet with a "man of God" who probably would have forgotten more about the Bible than I had ever learned. I had an opportunity to review what I did know. I knew about the "red" letters, the words that Jesus used as He moved about. I looked for the "red" letters where he started His ministry - Matthew 4:17.
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." I had learned a lot about His origin, I knew that He was God incarnate, so I could understand most of what He was saying, but - repent? What did that mean? I had been attending church for most of my life, but I could not recall ever hearing anyone talk about the need to - repent. I looked out of the window in the direction the bus was travelling and in the distance I could see a mountain. I looked at it for a few minutes and decided to ask of the mountain, "God, if you are there, tell me about this word, repent."
I cannot recall how long it took, but soon after I asked that question, I began to think of life on the farm, of the days when I felt like I had been abandoned by my Mother, and the arguments I had overheard between my Mother and my Grandfather concerning the costs of my care and the times I had seen my Mother come to the farm dressed in such fancy clothes, often in the company of men dressed in fancy clothes and the tears I had shed, wondering why my pals all had Fathers except me. And now I was thinking about my feelings toward my Mother. She never seemed like a Mother. I compared her to her younger Sister who always seemed to care for me; often it seemed, out of pity for me. I began to realize, I had very little love for her as a Mother. And now in this moment on the bus, I began to realize how wrong I had been as I knew nothing of the life she had to live after the death of my Father. Now, I realized, I had reason to repent and I burst into tears, pleading with God to forgive me.
To my amazement, the day had passed, the sun had set and now it was raining. As the lightning flashed in the distance, I looked more closely at the window and it seemed, the wind had rolled the water up and it was passing across the window, washing the dirt away I was fascinated by this experience.
And then I recalled an old song from my distant past that went something like this, ..." your sins have been washed away and you have been made whiter than snow.' I burst out crying and sobbing, I asked "Can this be true?" And it was like all of heaven applauded..
Before I noticed that phenomenon of the wind and the water and the window, I had tried to turn on the overhead light so I might read more of my Bible. It did not work. Now, an hour or two later, I tried again and now, it worked. Again the tears flowed. Something had happened, but what?
I knew the answers would be found in my Bible so I started reading and the more I read, the more eager I was to read even more. It was so exciting. I would discover familiar passages that now made real sense to me and then discover questions, I had often asked of others, now followed by answers I had longed to hear.
It wasn't long before we pulled into a rest stop in Elk City, OK. I hurried to the restaurant, not stopping to realize, I had very little money in my pocket. As I came through the door, the waitress looked at me and said, "My, you look bright and chipper this morning" and I replied, "I think I have been 'born again.'
and she replied, "Well, praise the Lord, sit right down and I'll fix you a breakfast worthy of your new calling." I didn't order. She brought me steak and eggs and biscuits and I began to wonder if I had enough to pay her. "No way," she exclaimed, "the Father has already paid me enough." Well, I left her a tip and moved on.
All the way into Tulsa, I kept reading and marveling at the experience. As soon as I got off the bus, I went to a pay phone and called ORU where I hoped to meet my new mentor. "I'm sorry, but this is Commencement Day and afterwards, he and his wife are leaving on vacation." "That's OK," I replied, "I think I have been talking with his boss."