Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Hope, No Hope, My melt down..

With everything going for us, we enjoyed a good salary for the first time as a pastor. I built  a pop up camper for vacations. We traveled some as a visiting children’s ministers to BSA and other church denominations.  Teaching with illusions, puppets and as a chalk artist. Sherry was operating the remotes for lights and sound.
Scanoldpic9 009 - Copy
One of those trips we combined camping and teaching. Another coincidence, it was in Georgia and we camped while doing the weeks Children’s programs fro another denominational church.
The congregation was growing and with Sherry working and Jack Jr in school Mark and I visited the senior and sick members. There was a local general store just a block from the church where Mark and I would stop, have a bottle of soda and chat with the owner.
I taught the youth of the church the lost art of making kites. Once made we had a kite flying contest one spring.  We now lived in the addition built onto the church. The kids had an inside toilet Winking smile, not to mention hot water and a bath tub.
Hubert Duncan had been the church clerk in charge of finances at the onset.  Grady Allen was the Sunday School Superintendent and was good at it. Grady’s daughters sang and played the piano. The men of the church were workers. Once while we were gone, they poured a concrete walkway from the parsonage addition to the entrance of the church as a surprise.  I had been putting it off. Funny, how one thing humbles you and makes you appreciate people who are thinking of you.
I not only was the pastor, but I had a good credit rating, so I was available to sign notes for folks of the congregation.  One note was for the newly weds, after I performed the ceremony Sherry and I signed for them to get a trailer. All of the notes were paid off and we were never held accountable. These were trustworthy folk.
***This part takes a lot of understanding***
My sons have never read or heard this…
I will try to make the hard part as short as possible. Have you ever had doubts about God? Well, with a church growing more than others around, I started to fall into a depression. For a week or so I was going on automatic.
I began to fast and pray. My prayers seemed to be going no where. I am telling God, “I preach that YOU answer prayer. I am trying to believe that. In the Bible men have put out a fleece for an answer. So, I am your servant,  if you want me to continue here I will, but please do this if you want me to.” I asked for one thing, very simple, it involved my church officials. AND NOTHING HAPPENED AS I HAD ASKED. I slipped deeper into a personal depression. Finally I decided, this is all a joke. THERE IS NO GOD.  (have you ever tried to explain what goes on in your head?)
So I did a terrible thing to Sherry, I told her, “Honey, I must be crazy trying to act like a preacher, there is no God, and I will not stand before these good folk and preach something I do not believe.  I will resign this week end.”  I hurt one of the sweetest girls in the world. She was, is and will always believe. She never doubts.
New Hope church front view
The New Hope church today. You can see our original ‘Garage’ on the left. Hundreds of folk are blessed each week there.
New Hope church from the air...l
(Bird’s eye view, On the far right  is the parsonage, We had good plans.)

There are times I think, ‘I think too much.’ LOL I resigned. I did not tell the church the truth. No dedicated member wants to hear their pastor say he has lost his faith.  I simply said I am going back to school and could not do the church justice if I stayed.
I went thru the formalities, paper work, turned my ministers license. We bought a small home from Sherry’s Brother for $3000. I took advantage of my GI Bill and started school for Civil Engineering, but it was just a fill in until I got my head straight, if I ever could.
My sweetheart never fussed at me, all she said is ,”You don’t really believe there is no God, no matter what you say.”
But at that time I honestly did not believe there was a God.
Years later she did tell me, she was never real happy as a preacher’s wife. Surprised smile
So What is next? God (if there was one) only knew. Many years later I did regain my faith. Amazing how understanding a real God is.
Confused yet?  Imagine being my lovely wife…. Time for another career change in a yo yo life, but a solid marriage.
Nite Shipslog
That confession was not easy to write. There was much more involved but not necessary for our story. I have written this only one other time.  I doubt anyone who knew me then will read this.
In my life I try my best not to do the “WHAT IF’s?”
1966 Mustang and the 1966 Batmobile


jack69 said...

Just a note, it is about 1:30 AM, I decided I had better put this post on since this is the low point of our lives, before I change my mind.
Thanks for reading... Jack


Having that walkway put in for you as a surprise had to be a big morale booster. In life we all have to do what we have to do and you did. In the end it all worked out the way it was supposed to, didn't it?

Paula said...

I think it would be hard at times to be a preacher's wife. I had a friend in high school who, when we would talk like girls do, would say she didn't ever want to be a preacher's wife.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Most every one has a test of faith in their lives, I think you did the best you could and stepped away. It was what was needed at that time of your life. Your Sherry is such a special person, keeping the faith all would be well. A minister's life and that of his family isn't easy at all and not something everyone is meant to do. I can hardly wait to see what happens next. One thing we know for sure that the two of you made it through are still together.

betty said...

I think it is good that you wrote about your struggles, Jack, even though I know it was hard for you to do so. Its a great looking church that you helped plant. I think it is hard to be a pastor and a pastor's wife and family; so many demands put on them to always look and act "perfect." God had you there for that period of the work he needed to be done. He even knew you would have that test of faith before you had it and allowed the workings you di, ultimately for his glory in the end. It is amazing how he works, even in times like this! And it opened a new field for you to have your hand in! Thanks for having the "guts" to share this with us!


Glenda said...

Can feel your heartbreak reliving that event in history, agree that your courage in sharing is admirable. You two came through it, and went on to beome an even greater blessing to so many.

Jean said...

Jack, look at you and Sherry now, you have a great life. I think we all question our faith at times. I do believe there is a God, and have had many prayers answered. I prayed so hard for my son Ron, but I guess God had other plans for him. I once said I would never marry a farmer, and I meant it, ha. You and Sherry take care. Jean

Anonymous said...

Jack, it would have been hard to read if you had never regained your faith. But knowing "the rest of the story" makes it not so hard.
The thing that Christ prayed for Peter was that his faith would not fail. (Luke 22:32)
Sherry's faithfulness to God and to you were a testimony of God's grace in your life.

bonnie k.

Elizabeth said...

I was surprised at this part but I always say things work out like they are suppose to even though we do not always know why. I hope it did not take too long for you to regain your faith. I am sure having Sherry by your side through it all was a blessing!

Chatty Crone said...

It takes courage to tell the truth especially when it is hard and not a good truth. I imagine it was the devil chasing you and you had to do that and search for God. And I know you found Him.

You life is never boring!

Mevely317 said...

I'm so glad you 'obeyed' your instinct to share this story, Jack. Just a guess, but I'm supposing there's lots of folk who might gain comfort, knowing they're not the only ones.

I can't exactly pat myself on the back for being faithful all tehse years ...suppose the only reason I never doubted His existence is, I was terminally scared of broiling in Hell!

Paraphrasing Billy Joel, God loves you just the way you are!
... and we do, too!

shirl72 said...

The devil will get in the mind
and cause this confusion. He finds
us at a weak moments and will do
his thing.

Glad you gained the faith and back
on track. It is not easy being a
PK and that life is confusing and not easy at times. Just had to
remember that was our Dad's profession. Life is good, GOD is

Woody said...

Satan attacks us, he plants doubt, fear and adds confusion to the mess, he then makes us spout out things that we don't really believe to hurt others we love.
I used to bargain with God, if he would do this, I would do that and so forth, It finally hit me, let go and let God, Miss Anna Mae and I went to the edge of the cliff, grabbed hands, and took our leap of Faith togeather, We found out our God is an awesome God.
sending Love and Prayers to you and Sherry and your family this special time of the year!!

Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» thinks that what you went through in questioning your faith is something most of us, preachers included, go through. «Louis» knows several pastors who have questioned their faith, but in the end, like you, have come back to their faith.

You probably know that the Batmobile began life as the Lincoln Futura. George Barris customized the Futura into the Batmobile.