A rabbit’s foot, mini-horseshoe and other charms could be found in my pocket in my early teenage years. It seemed like the advent of Saint Patrick’s Day would bring a revival in my mind of the mysteries of chance and fortune. However, one sin encourages another and it was on one spring day I took too many chances. I was arrested and was ushered into the darkest time of my life when I should have been enjoying it as a youth. Social rejection, poor grades, denial of college, continued wrong doing and eventually thoughts of suicide weighed heavily upon me. Charms, horoscopes and the like rang hollow with hopelessness.
However, in January 1970 I surrendered to Christ. This was not by chance, but I now fully see it was the merciful blessing of God upon me. It was a mixture of scares and positive happenings that brought my mind around to consider surrendering to Christ. Knowing now the blessings of God, I forsook all means of luck and discerning of fortune. I became a student, as I am to this day, of the leading of Christ’s Spirit.
Receiving the call to the ministry in February 1970, I entered into Bible institute the end of that summer. Though one surrenders to Christ, they still encounter troubles, but the blessing of God turns those troubles into blessings themselves, provided one perseveres in the Lord.
I had my first steady disciple of Christ girlfriend at the school. She could not return to school in September 1972. That December she called me to say that God wanted to break us up. Of course that was crushing, but I had One Who would always be with Me provided I walk with Him–Christ. So I continued to seek His direction, but more earnestly.
Unknown to me then was the fact a young lady, raised Amish-Mennonite, who dedicated her life to Christ, who was baptized in the Holy Spirit, had an urge from God to attend the same Bible institute. However, because of religious-social circumstances she never went to high school and earned a diploma, which the institute required. So the option was to take a General Educational Development test. She took one in Maryland, but missed passing it by a point or so. Her pastor quickly arranged for her to retake the test in West Virginia. She passed, and to Bible institute Dorcas Yoder went.
I first met her when she came to the school cafeteria, where I worked, for a bucket of warm water to thaw out her frozen car door. But I had not started dating again and wanted to get myself on track with God before I did.
Image from author’s personal collection
The time came that I felt I could begin to date. I met quite an assortment of young ladies. Then the blessing of God brought Dorcas and I together. Above is a picture of us standing inside near the entrance of the institute’s administration building. Our first date was at a “hoagie shop”–on Saint Patrick’s Day!
I soon sensed she was the one I was to marry. We married in June 1974, had three sons who are now married, and the blessings, not luck, continue. Many of the things in our lives mirror the miraculous and providential accounts in the Word of God. It is not that we are better than others. It is because we have trusted Almighty God through Christ to direct our lives. If you have not already done so, I invite you to fully surrender and trust God through Christ, for it is written (Psalm 34:8), “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
By the way, Dorcas could only attend one year of Bible institute. The blessing of God, not luck, saw to it was the time I was there and no longer had a steady girlfriend in Him.