The Storm and the Whale

After reading of all the wonderful things God was doing in my life, you might ask how in the world anyone could fall from that kind glory. Before you criticize, let�s think about King David - the man after God�s own heart. God had very special visits with him and was so close to him that you would think it impossible for this man to ever fall from grace. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the son of Ahithophel. Eliam was one of the men with David in the beginning, while he was running from Saul. He was also one of the 30 men on David�s roll of honor. Ahithophel served as commander and chief of David�s army. So this wasn�t some ordinary woman that David had an affair with, and after the affair and her resulting pregnancy, David had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, killed in battle to cover up this awful tragedy. Uriah was also one of the 30 mighty men mentioned in David�s roll of honor in 2 Samuel 23:8.

I could go on and talk about King Solomon, David�s son. After he had dedicated the Lords house, God came down in a cloud of His glory and personally spoke one of the greatest blessings mentioned in the Bible on him. Both of these men had incredible visitations and experiences with God, only to yield to the temptations of the flesh, and afterwards fall a long way from the glory of God.

In looking back on my awful fall from God�s incredible grace, these stories, along with a few others, were the testimonies that brought life back into my soul. The word of God truly is �a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.� These were the words David penned after taking the wrong path many times.  The writer of the book of Hebrews said, �The word is alive and powerful, shaper that any two-edged sword, able to divide between soul and spirit...and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.� The apostles knew this by experience because they had to depend on it for their lives on more than one occasion. As I look back on these times of my life, it was in these dark days that I truly understood what David meant when he said, �O, taste and see that the Lord, (the word), is good, sweet to the taste, and life to the soul!�

Many of God�s heroes of faith mentioned in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, had some very special visits from the Lord, only to later do some very foolish and incredibly stupid things. Their actions almost seem to contradict what the Lord says about them in this book, but faith is not perfection as you will soon discover. As I study the lives of the patriarchs mentioned in Hebrews, I get a great deal of encouragement from their lives because they, too are humans, and full of plenty of bad choices in their lives. The one thing they all have in common is that their sins and shortcomings never pushed them away from God, but closer to Him. They never let their failures defeat them, but allowed the Lord to teach them from their wrong choices, grow in faith and trust, and improve their lives. Abraham was counted righteous before God, not because of his perfection, but because he believed God ... and that was accounted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). That is faith - to believe God. Faith isn�t the ability to change things the way we would like, but to except God�s ways for our lives and trust Him at His word, that His way is always better than our ways.

I was baptized a couple weeks after my experience with the dove and for a couple months, I continued on, flying high on the Lord. I was doing a lot of witnessing and visiting with different people. I was very active in the little country church I mentioned and if you recall in the last chapter, Brother John was trying to gently persuade me to look into getting involved with a younger church in town. This was a very small country church with a lot of older folks and there was not much activity, other than coming and going to church. Brother John knew I needed to be actively involved with some good fellowship - allowing my gifts from the Holy Spirit to be utilized in God�s kingdom. I needed a place to be more than just a fixture. As you can see by my past, I was very restless and needed to be involved - to be a working part. I needed to be exactly what Paul described all through his Epistles - a working part of the body doing my share in the body of Christ. Of course, I didn�t know any of this at the time because I had never spent enough time in the Bible to know or understand this, but God in His infinite wisdom was about to change all that. He was about to change my life forever!

As I closed the last chapter I mentioned a man in the Bible who had been freed from the slavery of a demonic spirit, only to have it come back in him with seven worse than itself and the latter end of the man was worse than the beginning. This happened because this man�s house (like mine) had been cleansed, but left empty. This describes me perfectly. See, the Lord had paid me very special visits after I had poured out my heart and confessed all my evil and wickedness, confessed my desperate need of the blood of Jesus to cleanse me, accepted Him as my Savior and the Holy Spirit came upon me in that little chapel of the Salvation Army rehab center. Before I came home, I described to you how the brothers prayed me out of the rehab and our incredible experience with the Holy Spirit that night. So, when I got home and back to the antique store, the dove was just a continuation of that prayer and anointing. The Lord, through the Holy Spirit, was pouring out His incredible love on me. The Bible says in Romans 5:5, �Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.�

I believe with all my heart the dove was the Holy Spirit, and He not only blessed our property, but was pouring the love of God out in my heart. This was the cleansing power of Almighty God at work in a most phenomenal way. I believe one of the evidences of this cleansing, like I mentioned previously, was the fact that I couldn�t think badly of anyone, and everything looked so incredibly beautiful to me. I believe there were a few short days that the Holy Spirit had so cleansed my heart and soul that I was seeing as the Lord sees life � looking through the eyes of the Lord. How I long for another visit such as that one!

However, here comes the tragedy. After these incredible experiences, my life was well for awhile. I was involved in church, witnessing to some folks, running my business and making some money. The Lord was blessing, but I was not doing any of the spiritual disciplines of the Bible. I began to get busy with life and my prayer life involved only  a couple minutes each morning, I never read the word. I did less and less witnessing for the Lord, and soon I was hardly going to church. And even though I read little in the Bible, I was attending Bible studies at church, and getting some spiritual food.  Jesus said the word of God is the true Manna from heaven - the bread of life. Just as we need food to physically live, we need spiritual food as well, or we will die, spiritually! That�s exactly what happened to me. The Lord had cleansed my house and I was not feeding it anything. It was empty. I was spiritually starved to death and absolutely had no strength to resist the eight demons that came and took over. Satan knows the weakest spot to attack a baby Christian, or at least he knew mine. As I began to break what fellowship I had with other Christians at church, I began to get lonely for companionship so I went to the only place I knew to meet women - the clubs. Of course I came in the name of the Lord, telling everyone about my incredible experiences. I soon learned this was getting me a lot of attention with the ladies. I was justifying my drinking because I was telling people about Jesus, and besides, I could find a couple places in the Bible that seemed to justify drinking, as well.  I now know this is an absolute lie of the devil, and I now understand scripture does not contradict itself. Drinking is not encouraged in the Bible. I will not spend time on this issue, however. I have heard all the arguments trying to justify it, but for a person who has been a drunk and drug addict most of his life, there is no justifying it. Incredibly, when I first began to go into the bars, I still had a powerful anointing on me. I was talking about Jesus, and God was still using me to encourage several people to begin a relationship with Him. I know this steps all over some theology, but I�m not concerned with theology. I�m like the blind man in the story of John 9. Jesus does an amazing miracle and gives sight to a man who has been blind all his life, and religious theology tries to destroy it. Finally, after the religious leaders ridiculed this man and his family, he said, �All I know is that I was blind, but now, for the first time in my life, I can see�... Praise God!! 

One night, an old outlaw friend of mine (I won�t mention his name) was in the bar. This guy has been in some deep, dark places and he has absolutely no use for the Lord, or so he thinks. I was sharing with him about all the Lord had been doing in my life and he became very angry with me and began to cuss at me, telling me not to ever mention God to him as long as we lived. This response was triggered when I laid my hand upon his shoulder and patted him as friends do. A spark of fire literally came out of the end of my finger, kind of like static electricity, but it wasn�t static electricity � it was the mighty power of God. This man jumped back, knowing full well it was God, and that�s when he began to cuss at me. I believe God was showing Himself alive to this man, and wanted him to know He was right in the middle of us, and knew absolutely everything being spoken. Today this man is still around, and it is possible that the Lord may use me these many years later to bring him to the Jesus.  I know he hasn�t forgotten that night, although it�s been more than 10 years ago. He recently sent word for me to come see him, so maybe I will have the opportunity to lead him to Jesus.

As you may guess, my visits to the clubs became more and more frequent, until I was going nearly every night. Eventually I quit going to church altogether. It had only been about six months since my phenomenal experience with the dove and my life was deteriorating rapidly. I began to run around with a lot of different women again, some of which were into drugs. It wasn�t long until an old friend came to my shop one day and my life went down hill quickly. This man�s father owned a lot of land and businesses in Duncan, including a bank and oil fields all over. This man, who I�ll call Lee, had an oil field himself and he lived life in the fast lane. You can probably see where all this was leading because I was right back in the old life I loved so much. Money, partying, and women were, once again, all I lived for.

Lee had a place that the local police would not dare bother because of his father�s influence, and eventually I no longer even opened my store. God had really blessed my store and even when I wasn�t living for him any longer, I was still reaping the harvest of God�s blessing. But now my life was really spiraling out of control quickly. I began to more or less live at Lee�s place. He had a huge house with a lot of shop buildings with living quarters in them. He loved to smoke meth, and it wasn�t long before I was right back on the needle. I started out just smoking it with him, but once a junkie has ever had a taste again, the pipe just doesn�t do the trick so within a couple months, I was back on the needle. I felt really safe at his place because I knew the law would not mess with us there. This was a drug addicts paradise, and the beginning of me falling all the way to the very bottom of life. I ultimately was tip-e-towing on the edges of hell, and every one of those eight spirits began to have total control over my life.  Once in a while we would have trouble getting any good dope, so again I began to cook it. There was so much traffic at his place that I would go to my place since it hadn�t been open in a few months, and at night I thought it was a pretty good place to cook dope. He also had a 2000 acre oil lease and when the paranoia would set in, I would go out there. However, it was much easier to do it at my place because I had everything right there and I didn�t have to haul anything out to his lease. It�s risky in the drug business to be on the road hauling all the ingredients to cook meth, so I typically cooked at my place and would always try and be finished before the sun came up. This went on for over a year and I became so strung out and brave that I was cooking the stuff in broad day light at my shop, which was only 50 feet off a major 4-lane highway. By this time the law was watching me like a hawk and I was so demon-possessed that I could have cared less. All I cared about was making this poison and running as hard as I could.

I was staying up for weeks at a time, some times months. I would cook a big batch and head to Lee�s and we would party till it was gone. I sold plenty, which would always buy the ingredients for the next batch. By this time, Lee had let his oil field run down so bad that the electric company cut off all the power and the pumps were no longer pumping. When he first came back into my life, his field pumping only 40 percent of its capability, was producing enough to clear him $40,000 a month. By this time, we were so strung out that he had let it go until he couldn�t get electric service without going to the Cooperation Commission, and clearing up grievances filed against him, which was going to cost a lot of money. He was ashamed to tell his father he had let this oil field run down so badly, and not only had he lost his income, but every month he was getting money from his brother to keep the electric on at his house. Sometimes he would pay the bill as they were there to cut off the electric. The sad thing about that is, we seemed to always have plenty of dope, and dozens of people there partying day and night. The law would not bother this place so people came and stayed there for weeks. However, law enforcement was hot on my tail and one day while I was at Lee�s; they got a search warrant for my place. I had all kinds of junk lying around the place and some of it was stolen property. They weren�t after stolen property, but that�s what the warrant was for. I had just finished cooking some dope there a couple days before and I was going back to get some things. There wasn�t any dope there at the time, other than a little residue. As myself and another friend of mine were approaching my shop from the highway, we saw more than 20 law enforcement vehicles of every different department all over my property. The county sheriff�s department, Oklahoma Highway patrol, and the OSBI were all there. Needless to say, we sped on down the highway and got back to Lee�s house. A couple days went by and one night I snuck back out there to see what all had happened. When I went into the shop, there was a search warrant lying on the bed in the office. The place had been torn up pretty bad. A lot of things were gone, and there was a warrant for my arrest for stolen property.

Earlier that year, a sheriff�s deputy from a neighboring county tried to arrest me over some stolen property. I�ll call him Roberts. Mother had some canceled checks where I had bought some junk similar to the items that were stolen off a man.  I just said it was part of the junk I bought from this man I�ll call Brown. He was in prison, so there was no way to confirm that I wasn�t telling the truth. Of course, the items were stolen and the owner came and picked them up. The local sheriff�s department came out and was satisfied that I had ignorantly bought this stuff from Brown and he was the one who had stolen it. Roberts, who was out of his jurisdiction, got really angry, but the local sheriff�s deputy told him to leave since it was Stephens County�s jurisdiction. Now this same deputy had it in for me. If you recall, I previously mentioned a friend I met when I first moved out to my place - a man who taught me how to cook dope. I also mentioned a time the law came in on us and I crawled down a creek bank with staples still in my leg from a recent surgery. His place was north of me about 10 miles, in the county just north of me. Get the picture.  This is the man I�ll refer to as Brown. 

About six months prior to this incident, Brown and I had just finished cooking some dope. It was about 1 a.m., and we were out of cigarettes. So, still smelling like we had just walked out of a dope cook, we started off for the nearest town with a store open. Brown had an eight ball in his pocket that I didn�t know anything about. As we approached this small town, police lights came upon us from everywhere. They were upon us so quickly that we didn�t have time to react. Before I knew it, they had me sticking my hands outside the passenger window, had a canine running around the truck, and had Brown on the way to the front of the vehicle with the canine in hot pursuit. They found the eight ball and arrested him. They pulled me out of the truck and found nothing on me. There was plenty of drug paraphernalia in the truck, but the truck wasn�t mine and they found nothing on me. They hauled both of us to the small town jail and arrested him on drug charges, but after 2-3 hours, they had to let me go. The deputy who was responsible for all of this had been watching Brown�s house, probably trying to find where we were cooking the dope. Brown lived in the middle of no-mans-land, surrounded by thousands of acres of land. Guess who this deputy was? You guessed it � Roberts! Now, get the picture?

After this, Brown bonded out and while he was waiting to go to trial, Roberts caught him cooking dope one night and that put the nail in his coffin. Roberts was the one responsible for putting him away, so can you see the irony when I used Brown as a scapegoat to get out of the stolen property charge?

As I go back to the story of the day I drove by my place and 20 law enforcement vehicles swarmed the property, guess who was leading the charge. You guessed it � Roberts! He had gone to work for our county and I believe I was his first priority. At any rate, I hid out at Lee�s for several weeks until someone snitched me out and they came and arrested me. At the time, I was on probation for knowingly concealing stolen property, and uttering a forged instrument. I spent a little time in jail and Mother bonded me out. I was right back at Lee�s and this time braver that ever.

I began to cook with a guy I�ll call Bo, and he and I went crazy with the stuff. The law was watching us like hawks. We thought we were invincible, but we weren�t fooling anyone. As time went on, one of my court dates was fast approaching. I had two court dates and I don�t recall what the other one was for. I just remember I was out on two bonds. Anyway, I got the dates mixed up and the day I was suppose to be in court, Bo and I were out at Lee�s oil field cooking dope. As we pulled back into my place, my mother came to tell me I better get out of there because the sheriff�s department had just left with a warrant for my arrest. I had missed my court date.

We had Bo�s pick up loaded up with all kinds of dope and everything to cook with. We headed out quickly and went back to Lee�s place. I called my attorney from there and told him the situation. He convinced me to meet him at the court house the next morning and assured me he would explain to the judge the mix up and there shouldn�t be any problem.

I gave all my dope to Bo. We had several ounces and the ingredients to make much more. We had invested a couple thousand dollars and were planning to have all the dope we wanted, while selling several thousand dollars worth. We had bought enough ingredients to cook the largest batch we had ever cooked. We had just cooked the test run.

Needless to say, I was planning on going to the court house, explaining to the judge what happen, and getting a new court date. This is the way my attorney explained it to me anyway. Boy was I in for a rude awakening. I was so confident that I took my mothers car to the court house. When we walked into the courtroom, it wasn�t anything like my attorney said. This lawyer was also supposed to be my friend. As you�ll soon see, he was not, even though my mother and I had known him for more than 20 years. At any rate, my bond was revoked and I was thrown into jail. I set there for a few weeks and the district attorney�s office contacted me to make a deal with me. They offered to reinstate my bond and take care of the charges against me if I would help them gather evidence against a man they had wanted for a long time. I considered this kid my nephew. His dad was a close friend of mine who I had grown up with. The boy was out at my place one Sunday morning, and we had some women there and were doing dope. One of the women had a warrant out for her which I did not know anything about. Somehow the law (Roberts to be exact) knew she was there. We were inside the shop with the doors closed when I saw Roberts and some others crossing over my gate through the window. I went out to meet them and head them off while my nephew hid the dope. They had a warrant for this lady and wanted to come in and look for her. I had no choice but to let them. They found her hidden under some things in the shop, but Roberts had it in for this kid even more than he had it in for me. Roberts knew he had dope on him and that he was on probation, so they wanted me to testify to that so they could revoke him and send him to prison. This was the offer the district attorney�s office made to me - to stand in court and tell what all was going on out there that Sunday. Seems like such a little deal, but they had been trying to get this kid for years. Either his dad would get him high-priced attorneys, or he would out smart them. His dad owned a local business, had some money and connections, and the kid was quite clever. I told them what they wanted to hear to get me out of jail. I never intended to testify against him and told his dad that very thing. The boy was really worried about this. I repeatedly assured him and his father that nothing was going to happen.

Strange things began to happen after that between he and I. His brand new pick-up blew up one night out in the middle of nowhere. There was something real strange about that. Several other bizarre events took place around that time.

I loved this kid and his father tremendously, so I believe they knew what I was up to. A few weeks after all this, the kid was on a back road going really fast and had a tire blow out on a brand new Cadillac. He was going well over 100 mph, according to the police report, and flipped the vehicle.  I don�t know how many times it flipped. The Cadillac exploded like a huge bomb. He was killed instantly. To this day, there is something very mysterious about the whole deal.

For the longest time, his father had an investigation going on, but I don�t believe anything ever came of it. I really loved this boy and his father�s life revolved around him. As of today, I haven�t seen the boy�s father, but I know he has grieved many long years over this tragedy. This kid was as bright a kid as they come. Everywhere he went, he lit up the room. He was a real light to the world. That�s what is so terribly sad about getting caught up in the drug world - the devastating and terrible pains that come with this life style. As I come to the end of this tragic story of the young man I have called kid, I�m reminded of a poem that tells the story better than I ever could. It�s titled, �Sins Wages,� and goes like this: Sin does not serve well as gardener of the soul. It landscapes the contour of the soul until all that is beautiful has been made ugly; until all that is high is made low; until all that is promising is wasted. Then life is like a desert ... parched and barren. It is drained of purpose. It is bleached of happiness. Sin, then, is not wise, but wasteful. It is not a gate, but only a grave! It is then that we are able to see every ounce of payment that sin demands.

This tragedy took more of a toll on me than I wanted to admit, and I believe I became even more destructive than ever. I truly believed law enforcement had something to do with this, so now I was really anti-law and didn�t care what happened. When a person is under the control of eight demons and they are putting all kinds of thoughts into your mind, along with no sleep for weeks at a time, and intoxicated with some of the strongest dope known to man, then you need only to allow your imagination to put the pieces to the rest of the story together.

After the accident, I went as hard as I could for a couple months. I didn�t fear anything, or at least I didn�t think I did. I was totally oblivious to what was going on around me. I didn�t care about anything or anyone, including myself. I believe at that time in my life I didn�t have any feelings, and I certainly didn�t have a heart left. As I look back on that period of my life, it scares me to death because I believe I was as close to being the child of the devil as anyone can come. I had indeed moved as close to hell as one can get, or closer than I had ever been in my entire life. I believe the Lord allowed me to get this close so that I�d never forget this lesson, and that the nightmare would never leave my memory.

I was so paranoid that I often seen hundreds of police coming in on me. I would walk around at night carrying a gun and a powerful spotlight, fighting people in the trees and bar ditches who weren�t even there. I still remember believing with all my heart that these law men were out there. Satan, and his army of minions are real, and they do know how to manipulate our minds if we allow them access to it. Of course the devil cannot do anything to us unless the Lord allows it. And when we choose to make the devil our lord, then God allows us to reap the fruit of that relationship. Proverbs says �the way of the wicked is hard, and sin is its own punishment!� The devil truly does come to kill, steal, and destroy ... I�m living proof of that!

Thank God that He is the restorer of our souls. Psalms 23 says, �The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name�s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The title to this chapter is �The Whale� for good reason. If you�ll recall from your early childhood Bible stories, the story of Jonah and the whale has to be as memorable as Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. If you�ve never picked up a Bible you have heard of these two stories. Jonah was a prophet whom God had paid a very special visit, and He had a special mission for him. Jonah didn�t want to listen to God. He didn�t like what God had called him to do, so he thought he could run and hide from Him. As we all know from the story, Jonah had tried to run from God by hopping a ship to Spain. God created a huge storm and the ship was being tossed about furiously, to the point that the men on board, scared for their lives, sought to find out why. They found out it was because Jonah had made God angry, so at Jonah�s request they tossed him overboard. As soon as they did, the storm ceased. They were safe, but Jonah was drowning quickly. We know the rest of the story. God sent a whale to swallow Jonah after the storm and saved Jonah�s life. Jonah finally carried out God�s mission after spending three days and nights in the whale�s belly.

The opening chapter of this book talked about the darkest day of my life. On August 26, 2001, the Stephens County Sheriff's Department, along with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, kicked down my door, hauled me off to jail, and I was charged with manufacturing and trafficking in illegal drugs (CDS). The courts were so sick of seeing me. I had been before these judges� dozens of times over the previous four years on various crimes. I was on probation at the time, and out on two different bonds. Naturally, they threw the book at me. I was facing two life sentences and $75,000 in fines. The Lord had tried to do this the easy way. After rehab God was overwhelming me with His awesome love in so many incredible ways that today I get Holy Ghost goose bumps just talking about the times when God was paying me these priceless visits. But I was like Jonah. I was going to have it my way, or so I thought. However, as in Jonah�s case, God had a storm and a whale for me. The storm began August 26, 2001, after I had walked away from God.  It consisted of $75,000 and me facing the possibility of life in prison, charged with two life sentences. After four months, it ended with me receiving $79,500 in fines and court costs, and 65 years in prison.

At the age of 42 this is quite a storm, so  I did as Jonah, and had myself tossed overboard. God had a whale for me as well. It was a place called Cimarron Correctional Facility, a high-medium security prison in upstate Oklahoma hours from home. It was in the belly of this whale that I began to understand and feel the words of Psalm 23. You see, when David penned these heart wrenching words, he too was in a wilderness - a whale�s belly. Like Jonah and David, God had to bring me to the end of myself, and to the beginning of a relationship with Him.  When I came out of rehab, God was overwhelming me with His love, but I wasn�t interested in spending the time with Him to love Him back. He was paying me priceless visits and filling me with joyous sensations that can only be described as spiritual ecstasies.  I have often wondered if this is the way the three apostles felt on the mount of transfiguration, because I have never again had any kind of experience close to this one. Although I have had some very special visits when God�s glory was so thick you could cut it with a knife, but never anything close to the time when the dove came.

But as I said before, I wasn�t willing to take the time or make the necessary sacrifices needed, to spend quality quite time alone with our Lord in the Bible, earnestly and fervently seeking Him out in heart-searching prayer. We cannot survive spiritually without spending daily time alone with the Lord in His word - the Bible. Jesus called it the bread of life - our spiritual food - the water that washes us clean. Paul called it the mirror we looked into to see our condition spiritually. It is also the very heart of who God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are. It is God Himself, and it is the way He has chosen to spend time with us in this dispensation period. If we choose not to do this, then I believe it is impossible to truly know who God is. I know there are some exceptions to the death and blind, to the illiterate and uneducated, but technology is rapidly solving all of these problems.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says, �But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the same Spirit of the Lord.� As we spend time with our Lord in His word, we will become more like Him. We will begin to develop some of His nature and characteristics because we do become what we behold. As one man put it, Jesus saved me, but it was His word that changed me into the new man that I am today - a man that I even like now.

See, the Lord is our shepherd, and in my case, He had to make me lie down in the green pastures of His word.  He did use prison, the belly of the whale, to set me down by the still waters of the Holy Spirit so He could restore my soul through His word. And when He was through restoring my broken soul, (mind, will, and emotions), He is now, to this day, continuing to lead me in the paths of righteousness for His name�s sake.

The lord had to get me to a place just like He did with the Israelites, His very own chosen people, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of bondage. I, too, was in the land of Egypt; the house of bondage. This world is Egypt, and I was doing more for the devil than building pyramids. I was bringing spiritual death every where I went. When God did hear their cries, He brought them right into a desert; to a place where they had no choice but to depend totally upon Him for every single thing they had to have to survive. After a few days in the desert, with Him feeding them and supplying their water by awesome miracles; He next took them to Mount Sinai where He appeared to them and for the first time He spoke to them and gave them His law. This is exactly what God had done to me: prison was the desert, the whale�s belly, and the cave I lived in is where God, through His Bible, appeared to me and spoke to me. That cell was my Mount Sinai.

What appeared to be the darkest day of my life, when I thought God was as far from me as He could possibly be, was when officer Roberts had cuffed me to a chair in the day room of the jail and left me there all day for all to see his prize catch. I had acid all over me because I had been gassing dope all night. I had been up for weeks, was hurting from the acid, was still buzzing from the dope, and felt like I had no one in the world that cared or loved me. I knew this was the result of my own doings, but when the inevitable finally happened, the pain was more than I ever realized. I once read a statement written by F.B. Myers concerning a foolish and wicked lost soul who chose to live without God, �This is the bitterest of all ... To know that suffering need not have been; that it has resulted from indiscretion; that it is the harvest of one�s own sowing; that the vulture which feeds on the vitals is a nestling of one�s own rearing ... Ah me! This is pain!�  

At that time, God seemed to be unreal to me and I thought God was as far from me as He possibly could be. Little did I know He had never been closer. You see, like the story of Jonah, God had brought this storm and whale into my life. God had costume designed both the storm and the whale just for me. He knew what it would take to get my attention. He knew exactly how much pressure to apply, when to apply it, and for how long. It was during this period of my life, when God was all I had, that I realized He was all I ever really needed. When they finally did put me in a cell, gave me my charges and I read that I was facing two life sentences, I believe this was when the whale first swallowed me. Like I mentioned earlier, I had been up for several weeks. Now, with my heart sunk to my feet, I began to come down from the dope. They said I slept for the first three weeks, only getting up to shower and use the rest room. I had been running hard for well over a year, eating 40 to 50 Loricetts a day or doing an eight ball of crank a day, so when I did finally crash and burn, I guess I had come to the end. Sleeping these three weeks as I did was probably the reason I had so little withdrawal symptoms. Stopping cold turkey as I did would normally have wiped me out, but I don�t recall ever going through much withdrawal pains. It has to be because I was so dead tired, and I believe I slept through the whole withdrawal period.

I�ll close this chapter with some encouraging words to mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers: Never give up on God. Keep praying for your loved ones who have drifted into the darkness that I had. Keep praying for God to move on their behalf, but when He does, do not bail them out of the storms God brings into their lives. Mother had been praying many years for me and every time God would bring a storm into my life, she would bail me out of it. Between 1997 and 2000, God was answering her prayers by bringing me down, but she would do as most loving parents - she�d come bail me out over and over. The Proverbs are full of the folly of fools. Some say they hate instruction, others say they are wiser in their own eyes than seven men who speak sensibly, but Proverbs 19:19 describes my situation to a tee, �A foolish man of great wrath will suffer punishment; for if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.�  I�ll close with these powerful words from a writer I have much admiration for - Charles Spurgeon. �The darkness of sorrow has often been shown to be but the shadow of God�s wing as He drew near to bless. We cannot have the fertilizing showers on the earth without a clouded heaven above. It is thus with our trials� You see, what I  thought to be the darkest day of my life turned out to be the greatest day in my life. The darkness of that storm on August 26, 2001, was God moving closer than He had ever been. �As many as I love,� says the Lord, �I rebuke and chasten, therefore be zealous and repent� (Rev. 3:19). In the next chapter I�ll take you inside the belly of this whale and share with you what the Almighty God of heaven and earth taught me inside this whale�s belly.