I have never had respect for a person that, in giving his testimony, seems to be bragging about how bad he has been. Why should it ever be necessary to say anymore than I was a sinner and now am saved by the shed blood of my Savior? We had a discussion about predestination and much as I hate it, in order to explain my position on that subject, I feel it is necessary to tell a little of my past. But as little detail as possible I assure you.
The best explanation I have ever seen, for predestination, I found in the comic’s of the Long Beach news paper a couple of years ago. The little animal asked the preacher Bear to define predestination. The preacher Bear pointed to a stream of water and said,” that stream is life.” He pointed at a discarded can floating down the stream and said that is us and God does this, then he began to Ripple the water and that caused the can to bob, weave and bounce here and there. The preacher Bear then asked the little animal if he understood Predestination. The little animal said,” yes, God likes to play with trash”.
I think there was a time when I was a good little kid. I don’t remember ever thinking that I was going out and be an unholy terror. I think most of my infamous reputation was undeserved. There wasn’t much law in the part of the country I grew up in. The little towns had old retired men, needing a little extra income, for peace officers. They had no police cars or radio’s and were easy pickings for someone like me, looking for a little fun. I did some drinking, a little fighting and I knew a girl or two but my grandfather was a southerner and he brought me up thinking a man should be a gentleman. I didn’t kiss much but when I did I never told. It came to be that when folks, who thought I was a friend, got in to something they feared or thought they couldn’t handle they came and asked me to help. I had no fear of man or beast. In the end my propensity for rage and violence caused, even, my friends to shun me. A few years after I became a believer I ran into a person that had been a year or two behind me in school. He was amazed to see that I wasn’t dead or in jail. He said, “ I don’t know if you know it or not but mothers all over the country kept there kids in line by telling them, “ you better be good or Patrick will get you”. It seems to me, that, every thing I did do was blown up into something that never even happened. I got the blame for an awful lot of things I didn’t do. I realize, now, and maybe I even realized it to some degree then, that most folks were afraid of me.
Right after high school I went into the Army. I was sent to the Orient. Is it smart to put a gun into the hand of a nineteen year old and make him a king, the only law east of Japan? I became an investigator for stolen and missing equipment and supplies. I took my duty serious and my play to. I made a lot of enemies on all sides and was told I would never leave except in a bag or in shackles. When I did leave I shed a tear, knowing I would never be as free again. It was like a frontier. I loved it.
Next, I was in the mountains of Missouri. I was involved with a little country band. There wasn’t much money in it but I played Branson before the big guys found it. For playing we got all we could drink and the opportunity to put a cigar box on top of the amp. for donations. The donations wouldn’t even feed us. I took a part time job bar tending on the St. Roberts Strip, at the time the roughest city in the US. I had just turned 21. The boss, in addition to having several clubs, ran the call girl racket on the strip. My duties included looking out for the girls and helping assure their get away, should it become necessary, after the sheep had been fleeced. There was not much danger of getting in trouble with the law because the boss was justice of the peace and sheriff. I hate to tell you this. I only have told one other brother in Christ and he called me a pimp and never spoke to me again. It was being suggested that I should play a bigger role in the company when I said I was going home to visit my folks but that I would be back. The boss told me not to worry, when I got back I had a job.
When I got home it took no time at all for my friends and I to drink up every dime I had so I took a job making cement ditches. I got fired in three days because I got the bosses teenage son drunk right out on the job. This was a Christian family so he didn’t press charges. Then, I took a job as a cowboy, for 150 dollars a month. When I got my 150 I grabbed a freight train in Cheyenne WY. Heading west. I had a bag of clothes and a 40 oz. Bottle of VO. I got off at Las Vegas drunk and sick as I could be. There is a country song there somewhere. I drifted on to LA for the winter. I had a hot car by this time and folks in CA were in to that so I was soon in trouble with the law. I went out to Yermo CA come April I was still only 22. Out in the desert a person could stay out of trouble unless he was me. My car beat another guy’s car and his wife thought she should be the prize so he got mad and vandalized my car. The wife was with me, drunk and under 21. I went to the local law and he came down on the side of the local boy. I said fine, I would take the damage out of that guy’s hide. The judge said,” don’t let the sun set on your head in CA. If I ever see you or that car in CA again you are going to jail for a lot of things”. I went to Vegas and on to the mountains of Utah. Before June was done I slipped across the Utah Wyoming border in the middle of the night. I went in such a hurry my dog got left behind. All I could think of was getting back to Missouri where I had a lot of friends and the law was on my side. But I needed money.
I worked steady from June until January but couldn’t get one buck ahead. My car was worn out and every time I got one thing fixed something else went wrong. Also I still had to many drinking buddies. I was unemployed from January until April and really got in a hole. My country music buddy came through and wanted me to go with him into Yellowstone Park and sing for the tourists. Wow! I was all for that but I was flat broke and my car was broke down as well. I had to barrow my dad’s pickup to get around. I told him that when I got on my feet I would be up there with bells on. I couldn’t find a job until April. I was almost 24. I got a job in a little slaughterhouse at 1.00 an hour. But my car and my drinking would not give me a break. I got my car out of the shop on a Monday and Friday I could hear and feel the rear end going out. So I stopped at a car dealer in the town I was going through and traded it off on an Impala convertible. Black with a red interior and white top. Wow! I’m stuck here forever. Three years of car payments but think of the girls.
The worst part was a bloody disaster. The people I was working for were Jesus lovers and so were the other two employees. I couldn’t stand it. I told them all not to be trying to feed that crap to me. Anyone who thought he needed this mythical Jesus was a weakling afraid to stand on his own two feet. They honored my request and directed no Jesus remarks to me. But it was the constant chatter among them selves. What did you study in Sunday school? Oh, we studied this or that. Wasn’t the pastor’s message wonderful. Remember when he said such and so. Uuugggg.Then it got worse. The pastor began to drop in two or three days a week. He was always baiting me but in my mind I could always argue him in to a hole. I told him there was no God and either he was a fool or he was doing a poor job of trying to make a fool out of me. In my mind I was defeating these people without even working up a sweat. I didn’t know it but the whole church had taken me on as a project. I was being prayed for 24 hours a day I bet.
Meanwhile I am still out there, walking about seeing whom I might devour. I was in this little cow town on a Friday night and saw a girl sitting in a car with another girl and a boy. I had met her years before and walked up to say hello. She saw me coming and tried to hide down on the floorboards. I just stood there until she gave it up and sat back on the seat. She wanted nothing to do with me but in my mind that wasn’t her say so. She reluctantly tried to be civil but told me that under no circumstances would she go out with me. Then she dropped a bombshell on me. She told me that a couple of years before she had been in a very difficult situation and asked Jesus to be her savior and the only place she would go with me was to church. I recovered quickly and told her that sounded fine to me, that if she would go out with me Saturday night I would take her to church on Sunday. It was an easy promise to make and an easier promise to break. I had corrupted Christians before and I sure planned to corrupt this one. She should have known better. Where I had met her was at a teenage dance more than 5 years before and at that time I had walked up to her and said,” dance until they close the place but you are going home with me”. She had told me no, that she was there with her boyfriend and she was leaving with him. I told her she was wrong about that and went out and sat in my car, working on my bottle of whiskey. Everyone knew I was waiting out there and what I was waiting for. When they closed the place all the kids tried to walk out in a knot with her in the middle and slip her by me but I saw what they were up to and got out of the car and walked towards them. I was very drunk but it never showed on me. I told her to get in the car. The kids seemed to be of a mind to at least squeal a lot if I tried to take her by force. But it didn’t come to that, She said,” no, I don’t want anyone to get hurt” and she walked over and got in my car. I was too drunk to drive. I got about 5 miles north of town and in to the sand hills when I lost control of my car on a curve and went in to the bar ditch and got stuck in the sand. The girl got out of the car and had a five-mile walk home. Towards morning I sobered up enough to get my car out and I went home. I never saw that girl again until I talked her in to going out with me if I would take her to church. Several months later and just before I hurt her real bad I did take her to church. I heckled the pastor right while he was trying to bring his message. The girl began to cry and ran out of the church in embarrassment and still didn’t give up on me.
I was in the Horseshoe Bar in the same little town, pouring down scotch with water by, when God said you have gone as far as you are going to go. I don’t know how it works but it was like He yanked off blinders and I could see myself as He saw me and I couldn’t stand it. I found someone else to blame, at least in my mind, and set out to find and kill that person. But I couldn’t find him and sat in the State Line Bar until it closed drinking scotch doubles, forget the water. I couldn’t get drunk. I went home and tried to sleep but couldn’t do that either. The next morning, Saturday, I went to work and come noon I went to the café I always went to and couldn’t eat my lunch or later my supper. No sleep, no eat, Sunday or Monday. Tuesday I was on my last legs and at noon went to my boss and told him I wanted to pray for someone but a little voice kept telling me, “ IT’S NOT DOING YOU ANY GOOD SINNER”. He said,” that is right, the first prayer that God hears from a sinner is his own salvation”. I said,” I don’t want that” and left. I think it was more like I couldn’t imagine God wanting me. I got in my car and drove a block west to main street. It was my plan to get that pastor, who loved to torment me to do the praying for me. Then it was my plan to die. Right there across the intersection was that pastor with his family. I motioned him to pull over and said I needed to talk to him. He said, “ can it wait? I’m on vacation and on my way to CA. I’ll be back in 2 weeks”. I had only caught him by two seconds. I told him that I didn’t think it could wait. We went up to the church but I refused to go in so we sat in the car and I told him what I had done and asked him to pray for that person. He began to tell me how I needed to get right with the Lord. I told him to stuff it and do what I had told him to do. So he went to talking to the Lord and it was the longest prayer I ever heard. Then I figured out that he was preaching at me while making it sound like he was talking to God. One thing he said stuck. He said I didn’t do this, Lyle did and you know Lord, that if Lyle would repent and come to You his prayer for this person would mean so much more than mine. I had done all I could so I went back to work determined to finish my day then finish myself.
I shot my first beef and began to work on it when I became aware that someone had come through the alley door and on to the kill floor. The room was in an L and that door was around the corner from me. Sometimes people wanting to drop off an animal came in that door or maybe a hide buyer. Sometimes it would be school kids just wanting to watch the butchering. I looked up to see who it was and could see no one but I sensed a Presence and I knew who it was. I finished the beef and went to sit down on the steps of the hog kill. I was so weak from no sleep or food that I feared I was about to collapse. I wanted to make a deal and said so but that small voice that I didn’t need ears to hear said I don’t make deals sinner. I said,” look if You will honor my prayer I will go on living and quit Drinking”. “ I don’t make any deals sinner”. “ Wait,” I said,” I’ll quit drinking, smoking and go to church once a month”.” I don’t make deals sinner”.” I’ll give you my best and last offer,” I said, “ I’ll quit drinking, smoking and go to church twice a month. No one does better than that but preachers and they are getting paid”. “I don’t make deals sinner” I became angry and stormed off to the pens telling that Presence what He could do with it. I ran in another beef, shot it, stuck it and as the warm, red blood began to run across the floor and into the trough I became aware that the Presence was leaving, heading for the door. I don’t know how I knew but I knew that if that Person got out that door my last chance went with Him. I dropped to my knees in the blood and surrendered.