Pulled from the Pagan Pool
by Ron F. Hale
Jack Daniel’s Black Label–Old No.7 was my friend in what seems like another life. On my kitchen bar was a little wagon containing a payload of eight crystal clear shot glasses. I used these glasses just about every night to help me sleep. One by one, I poured them full. Without a chaser, I downed each glass with throaty guttural sounds in between.
At age 19, I became the youngest man in my state to acquire an alcohol license while part owner and manager of a 500-night club called The Port Jackson Club. Business was good in the early 1970s. We built a new disco next door with an upstairs lounge/game-room called The Crow’s Nest.
On busy nights at the club, we had around 1,000 people—all sorts of people. Darkness and good music brings out the “cool” party crowd, prowling singles, happy feet people, college students looking for fun, under-aged teens with fake IDs, married men without their rings, a few prostitutes, a professional gambler or two, and some Sunday morning church goers.
A somewhat inebriated 55’ish couple asked me what “time” it was late one night. I told them, and the husband turned to his wife and said, “We’ve got to get home, I’ve got to get up and teach Sunday school in the morning.”
“Hypocrite” was my first thought. I loved collecting “stumbling blocks” like this couple—they helped feed my own warped sense of self-righteousness. I mean … “Dear God, I thank thee that I’m not like ‘those kind’ of people.”
How do you go from darkness to the light from a Club to Christ?
Life can move lighting fast when you’re young. A letter came one day from the love of my life. We had broken up after high school, but I thought about her every day. I asked her to marry me on our first date. I did not want to lose her again! In a matter of months, I was now married and a baby on the way. The birth of my son tendered my heart and made me ask a serious question over and over.
Growing up with an alcoholic father made me ask this question: Do I want my son to be raised in the way I was raised? I knew that Old No. 7 might have my number if things remained the same. I wanted to change the course of my life, but–how?
First things first, God had to drain the swamp of pride that filled my mind and heart. I still wanted to hang on to the prestige and money stream that came from running a popular nightspot. Yet, something kept telling me that nothing would change unless I “cold turkey” turned my back on this lifestyle.
One steamy summer night in the south, a tornado ripped through Jackson, Tenn., almost killing my wife and son. Racing home from the club, I cried out to God for His help. Between the lightning flashes, I could see the house torn to pieces. There was no response as I cried out to my wife. A neighbor suddenly appeared informing me that my family had been taken to the hospital. Thankfully, I found them alive but badly shaken.
Not long after that nightmare, I made the clearest decision of my life. I sold my shares of stock to a remaining partner, walked away, and never looked back.
My life was unsettled for a while. We moved into a little farmhouse owned by my in-laws while I looked for a new way to make a living.
A high school buddy asked me to do some house painting with him. One day I found myself painting the front doors of a Baptist church.
Weeks later, my wife and I walked through those freshly painted doors to attend a worship service. I was as nervous as a miniature Chihuahua in a room full of Bobcats. After church, several people that we had known from high school invited us to attend their young couples Sunday school class. We went the following Sunday.
I started studying the Bible very seriously. I wanted to read about Jesus! I loved reading the “red letters.” Between this Savior and my soul was my stubborn sin. Old vexing voices from the past dogged me daily. Sin struggles against surrender.
Recently, I spoke by phone with Bill Moseley, the pastor who led me to Christ. We reminisced the life-changing day when I was saved and Yvonne rededicated her life to the Lord. In what seemed to be the fourteenth verse of Just As I Am, we walked to the front of church to speak with the pastor during the invitation. He reminded me of the exact words that I spoke to him that morning: “I want to be saved.”
Only the Spirit of God could have made me utter those sweet words. On my knees, I called on Jesus Christ the living Son of God to forgive me of all my sin and to change my life. I wanted to receive all that Jesus wanted to give.
Jesus came into my life that day, cleansing me and renewing my heart and life. Jesus was more important than Jack (remember him)–or anything from the dark side.
Within a year, another leap of faith presented itself. The One who pulled me from the pagan pool was now pushing me toward serving Him in ministry. My limited Christian vocabulary made it difficult to describe my feelings of being “called.” I was so unprepared for this strange new journey. My first sermon was delivered through the bars at our county jail. Several guys were shocked to see me walking in with a Bible.
Have you been pulled from the dark side of sin and selfishness by Jesus?
If not, I know your fears. The biggest fear is “change.” You are afraid of the change that will occur in your life “if” you surrender to the light of the Gospel. Listen to me — don’t allow anything from your past to fleece your future.
Don’t allow your yesterdays to control your tomorrows; today can be the day of salvation. Trust Jesus!
© Ronfhale@yahoo.com, August 2, 2014