Tuesday, December 13, 2011
"My Story" Tuesday: Dale Messenger
Dale's "Short Version" of his story:
My testimony begins with me drinking again after being sober for twelve years. I drank for three years this time out and it almost killed me.
I used to get angry when my wife and my son would come home from church happy and sharing and laughing. Especially on Monday nights which is called the alternative service. I was an Agnostic and had been for many years. I had some bad things happen to me at the hands of people that called themselves Christians in my early years, and it turned me off on anything to do with God at all.
One Monday night I made one of the biggest decisions in my life. I was headed to the store to get a twelve-pack of beer. I stopped at the corner and made the decision. If I made a right I was going to go get some beer; if I made a left I would sneak outside of the church and see what was going on in there through the windows.
I had no idea what to expect. Would these people roll around on the floor or do weird stuff like I had seen on TV as a kid? I peered in and could hear loud music and people, some standing and some sitting. Some with their hands in the air and others wiggling like they were dancing in place. This was all strange to me, especially the loud music part, who would have thought that these Christian people would enjoy music loud and blasting and thumping with a lively beat, too?
I became even more curious. I knew the church building well because a former youth pastor was the coach of my son’s soccer team, and we had been in and out getting the soccer equipment for many years. I had also volunteered with my wife and a few other people from the church to help chaperone a youth group on Friday nights.
Anyway, I decided since the lights were off in there I could sneak in and peer in some small windows that were in the doors between the sanctuary and the hall. I was in there for a few minutes when a man I had known for years, George McPherson, snuck up behind me and scared the crud out of me. He said, “You can go in and nothing will happen to you.”
Right inside those doors was Pastor Terry Munn, the pastor we had been seeing for marriage counseling. He was operating a sound board for the band, but didn’t seem to have a firm grasp on all the ins and outs. I stayed near him—I felt safe and comfortable there. While I was listening I heard some things that needed adjusting, so I reached down and did it. After a few times of me doing that he said, “Do you know anything about this?”
I told him in my earlier life I had been a roadie for a band and I set up and operated sound for them. He invited me to sit down and operate it, and now I’ve been there for over twelve years.
About two years had gone by doing this, still drinking in my spare time. I liked what I was doing, and it started to grow on me Like a civic duty type of thing.
We had a large choir come to town to perform for us, the Redwood Christian Choir. They were over fifty strong and I was not sure how they were all going to fit in our Church. They set up a three-step riser in the corner and it began to make better sense. When they started to sing it was like a choir of angels filling that room. I was amazed. When they were ready to finish, they surrounded the room, and I felt as though I were trapped in my corner by them. My anxiety levels rose, and all I could think to do was lay my head down on my arms at the soundboard and hope it would be over soon. Their last song was in multi-part harmony and went all around the room. When the section next to me sang, these young adults sounded like angels and the hair stood up on my arms and the back of my neck.
After it was over I talked to their leader. He asked me if I had any Christian choir music. I said no, but I surely enjoyed it. He got my address, and a few days later a package showed up filled with CDs from choirs from all around the country. I started listening right away. So every morning while doing my e-mail, etc., I would put one in. It was not very long before it all started to make sense. These were not words to songs, but prayers to God. Wow! I could see my wife’s and son’s joy when I would listen to them, too.
A few days later we had our appointment for counseling with Pastor Terry. I talked to him about what had happened to me during the concert, and asked him what he thought it was because it had concerned me. He told me it was the Holy Spirit trying to get hold of me. I basically told him I thought he was full of crap and just went on with our meeting.
A couple of weeks later during our regular worship I said, “It’s happening again.” He asked what, and I said, “That feeling. What do we do?”
He acted like I was nuts. He didn’t understand what I was talking about.
“That feeling is coming over me again. How do I let the Holy Spirit in?”
He led me up to the stage and we knelt down. He began to pray with me. Whew, once the Holy Spirit started to enter me I was blown away. I had chills and sweats, my stomach was wrenching, and my tears were flowing like a faucet. I was shaking and didn’t knowing what was going on. When we finished praying, I stood up and looked out towards the congregation. I didn’t see many dry eyes in the crowd. Many had been praying for me for years to come to the Lord.
Well, things happen for a reason. I have not felt this good about any decisions in my life, even quitting alcohol again—I have been sober for nine years—and quit smoking after forty-six years one year and three months ago.
My life has not been the same since the day I let God into it.
Thank You, Jesus!