Senior Year Decisions
Through all these things a good solid foundation of faith had pretty much just been laid when the summer of 1985 came around. My parents, after several weeks’ separation, made another attempt to reunite. And they decided to try to get jobs back in our hometown area so that we could move back to our hometown. This would enable me to graduate with the class with whom I’d grown up. As much as I had hated to leave Augusta, I was ambivalent about returning. There was excitement to see my friends again, but I was not enthusiastic to leave my first real church home.
But return we did. It proved to be a year of mixed blessings. For the first time in several years the football team not only had a winning season, but made it to the district playoffs. We missed the regionals playoffs by a single point. I was involved in the school plays and forensics, and won some awards. I got involved with the Fellowship of Christian Atheletes group at high school. I dated a long-time friend. And I looked forward to graduating.
But in the late fall, my parents split again. This created turmoil for me. I began to act out in school, and was essentially given the option to not enroll in the second semester of my German language class, or be kicked out of it. I skipped school. My girlfriend and I broke up over the Christmas holidays. And I had no clue what I was going to do for college in the fall. My mom and I made a few (for me) half-hearted school visits. But I was adrift.
The spring I was to graduate, I read Elisabeth Elliot’s Through Gates of Splendor, an account of the mission work among the Auca Indians of Ecuador and the martyrs’ deaths at the hands of the Aucas of Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and their companions. It was a moving story, and it gave me a clue as to a way I could live the dedication I felt to my Christian faith. A few months later, I decided that I would go to Ozark Christian College and train to become a missionary.
Just prior to that decision, I had made another decision. Since our return from Washington, I had mostly attended the local Baptist church with my friends. While my dad, who was raised Southern Baptist, would not have cared, he was not living with us. My mother, however, cared deeply. She and my dad had decided, by means unknown to me, that my sisters and I would be raised in the churches she’d grown up in, and in which her dad, my grandfather, had ministered, the Restoration Movement churches. Since the Baptists did not believe that baptism was essential to the process of salvation, and did not observe the Lord’s Supper weekly–and perhaps for reasons less oriented to doctrine and more influenced by our chaotic family situation–she repeatedly refused to allow me to go to the Baptist church with my friends. But being physically larger and stronger than her, and having my own set of keys to dad’s pickup, I simply walked out the door on Sunday mornings and went to the Baptist church.
Nonetheless, sitting in the worship service with that morning’s conflict with my mother still ringing in my head made me absolutely miserable. I could see no valid reason why I shouldn’t worship here–especially since my own mother was at that time not consistent in attendance at her own church–and no reason how this was in any way really disobedient to my parents. After all, didn’t God take precedence if a parent told their kid to do something that was against God’s will? Nonetheless all this rational analysis would not allow the uneasy feelings to dissipate, so in April I formally joined the Restoration Movement church she considered home.
With that decision, and the subsequent decision to attend Ozark Christian College, I had made my adult commitment to the Restoration Movement churches.