I wanted to share my story with my grandchildren that they might know where they've come from, and what kind of a person God worked in their Grandfather to become.
When still a young boy I got my first job - delivering newspapers in my home town of Fox Lake. My best friend, Larry Baszynski and I, had the entire city of 1200+ to deliver to. I had anywheres between 40 to 50 houses and businesses I delivered to. It was a pretty good way to earn some money except in Winter when it got cold, snow came, and it got slippery. Very occasionally my Mother would take pity on me and drive me around in order to avoid trying to ride a bike. Oh yes, the bike.
My first bike was a single speed Schwinn. Nothing fancy and fairly straight-forward. You didn't have extra speeds for either up or down hills. Just pedal power. My greatest nemesis was chains that came loose - and if not that, the occasional broken pedal. For 2-3 hours a day...Sundays were longer...I made about $5-7 a week. It worked out to about 30 - 40 cents and hour. Yet it was the means for my first big investment - Golf clubs.
I started golfing when I was 10. The Fox Lake Golf Club (still exists) was a nine hole golf course that became 18 holes when you changed the Tees the second time around. I bought my golf clubs as used, and the yearly membership was paid for with my paper route money. My father was a firm believer in "If you want something, go out and earn money to pay for it". It was true of most things "extra" in our lives. My brother - who also had a paper route - paid for anything that was not food, shelter, or "beyond regular clothing". Regular clothing was defined as jeans and t shirts for summers...a dress shirt and tie for Church...and jeans plus "something decent" for other occasions, such as school. We didn't have a lot but we didn't know that we didn't have a lot. When we weren't working delivering papers, or doing chores that Mom made us do, we played. We played a lot, and rode bikes, drank sodas, and in general lived a normal kid life.
Being Lutheran, we went to church every week. About age 11 we began Catechism - which I despised. First of all it was a Saturday morning which meant I was not playing or watching cartoons, but sitting in the basement of a dark dreary church building, sitting around a table with 20 or so others of my age, not paying a lot of attention to our minister who was trying to explain the basics of our faith from Luther's shorter Catechism. I hated being there and did little to try to learn - enough to pass through the class, but not enough to really understand the doctrines of the faith. In retrospect, it is a regret of life that I have to live with. I'm sure others were not as disinterested as I was.
After Catechism came Confirmation, and with that I was "In" the church. But it didn't last...I didn't want in, I wanted out, because I wanted to run my own life, and not listen to someone else tell me how to live it. Since my heart was cold to God's word, and darkened to the Gospel, I drifted away from any kind of faith in God, or living in a church community with other believers. When this happens, it is a lot like taking a single coal from a burning fire of 100 coals and setting it aside. It doesn't take long for the fire to go out...and it did for me.
The real issue is what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2: "and you were dead in your trespasses and sins". Of course as an unbeliever, and a teenager, I lived quite badly...demonstrating to truth of what Paul had written.
Much later on I ran across the writings of C.S. Lewis, and he summed up my teen years so well:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
― C.S. Lewis,
Yet, here's the key thing: In spite of my disobedience to God; in spite of my walking away from faith in God; in spite of not caring about Jesus; in spite of my lack of worship, prayer, or desire to read God's word and obey it - God never gave up. He led me through my teen years protecting me, showing me who I was, and developing my mind and heart so that one day I would turn to him. Jesus once said (John 12:46), “‘I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”
That is what I'll share next..moving from the darkness of my own selfishness and sin to the light of the Glory of Christ in the Gospel.