Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25
It was a one and only, life changing, Valentine’s Day. It was 1982…forty years ago. My wife Judy and I were enjoying life and enjoying our still “new to us” daughter who had just turned one. And that isn’t all. My wife Judy was expecting our second child due that August. As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.” But there was more…a lot more. You see, about a month before that Valentine’s Day, the pastor where we attended church had asked me to speak on Men’s Day. In case you’re wondering, Men’s Day in a Baptist Church is where the men step and do something. It could be singing in the choir or like me, speaking. Yup, the pastor had asked me to speak that day and I said yes.
That wasn’t a total surprise. The previous year he had asked me to share my Jesus story…how I met and responded to faith in Jesus. He later asked me a curious question. “Dewayne,” he said, “have you ever thought about becoming a pastor?” Well, the truth was I had but not seriously. After all, I had a great career going in the Air Force and with another baby on the way, well, it wasn’t on my radar. So, I sat down and wrote something that I thought would work and I guess it did. But from that moment on, something was restless in my soul. I was afraid if I ever tried this speaking thing it might start something and it did.
For the next month or so, things kinda rolled around in my soul. Something was stirring but I think even I was surprised by what that thing was. So, that Valentine’s Day, Judy and I did what we always did on Sunday…go to church. I’m sure there were cards exchanged and most likely a gift or two but it was a normal, “get up and go to church” Sunday. We went to our Bible study class (which remains one of our favorite memories…great friends getting together).
After class we headed to worship. We were sitting in our “normal” spot…center section, five or six rows back. We sang, we prayed, we gave, and then we sat down to listen…and apparently, God was talking…to me. At the end of the service, we always had a time for people to go forward and pray or perhaps make some sort of commitment. Well, without any warning (God does that sometimes), an unexpected passion or urgency came over me and I found myself leaving me my seat and heading toward my pastor. I took him by the hand and told him God was calling me to be a vocational pastor. I don’t believe he was shocked, but I can tell you I was. I knew this meant a total life change and career change. It still amazes me as I think about it.
Well, there’s a lot to the story but that decision led me to leave the Air Force after 12 years and jump headlong into the pool of faith and trusting God. Today, February 14th, marks that day forty years ago. You might be wondering, “So, Dewayne, how did that work for you?” Well, there has been bumps, but I want to tell you that God has been so faithful to us. We have had the ride of our lives and it has been incredible. There’s a verse in the Bible where the author says that he had never seen someone who followed God forsaken or begging for bread. Well, that’s a pretty broad statement and it is certainly needs to be taken as a principle and not a promise, but I can tell you God has watched over us these four decades.
Valentine’s Day is and should be a special day. I know it was probably a ploy by Hallmark to make a ton of money. I know it can be a blessing for those who remember and a bane for those who forget. But for me, it is a time to remember the day I jumped…and God caught me. You might know that in the military if you serve 20 years you can retire handsomely. You may have done the math and concluded that if I had served eight more years, I would have been “fixed” for life. You ask, “Do you every regret getting out and losing “all of that?” My brother-in-law asked that one time and my answer was, “Absolutely, 100%, no.” I wouldn’t have missed this story for the world. Oh, and the best part is…it’s still being written. You might wonder why I can end each story with, “He’s got this.” Well, the truth is, He’s proved it over and over again. Bro. Dewayne