I graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1990, having just married a fellow student there. My plan was to carry on to seminary in Texas after college, but I needed to wait one more year for my wife to graduate. So, I took a job at the local Department of Human Services office in Shawnee. I also started my first pastorate, at Tribbey Baptist Church.
A year later I was divorced.
I will not share with you the details of that separation. But suffice it to say my entire universe was crushed. I was kicked out of my own home. I was recovering from a surgery to remove a cyst from my spine. I was in a new and stressful job. I was in a pastorate in a denomination that did not look kindly on divorced pastors. My calling, of which I was previously so certain, was in total doubt. My faith was shattered.
Soon I was no longer a pastor; I was volunteering at a local mission. I was alone. My job at DHS was more stressful. And I was gaining more weight.
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One day I made the decision to diet like I did in high school when preparing for wrestling tournaments. It was called “sucking weight.” I lost 50-60 pounds by eating nothing but bagels, potatoes, oranges, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower. I do not think I intended to be vegan; I was just winging it. Soon I was running five miles every other day.
Eventually, I made it down to my high school football weight of 240 pounds. I was working at the mission, at DHS and as a Sheriff Chaplain.
I did not have time to eat. I was filling my time any way I could. The last thing I wanted was to have extra time on my hands.
My prayer life had almost completely disappeared. I lost all hope of being a pastor again.
I attended a grief support group at a local church. I did not stay long as it was a mixed group and some of the women wanted relationships with the men who attended. I was not ready for that.
During this season, I met the person who was to become my second wife, mother of my eldest daughter.
But nothing filled the void left by my departure from the pulpit. The enemy was armed and ready for battle. And in 1992, for the first time in my life, I saw the enemy without one of his disguises. It was not a mirror I was looking in. No one else was there. And he looked nothing like the God of my youth.
Somewhere behind me I had laid down my sword and shield. I was ill -prepared for battle. I was naked, without armor. I was just a boy-soldier, searching in the dark.
Soon, I returned to my old eating habits. Only this time I added an addiction to chocolate candy, candy bars and other sweets. All the weight came back.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6
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