Born in the back hills of Tennessee.
Read the Bible sitting on mama’s knee.
Wore patches on Uncle’s hand-me-down jeans.
Grew up poor, I ate possum cuisine.
Daddy drank hard, couldn’t keep a job.
Through walls paper thin, I heard mama’s sobs.
With eyes squeezed tight, I said, “Help us please, God”.
Rose early, picked mama some goldenrods.
Heard my pastor shout and have his say.
God murmured, “You’ll be a preacher one day.”
Polished my sermons at the fishing lake.
Preached Jesus loud for the fishes’ sake.
Thus .. life gave birth to my vocation.
I led churches with small congregations.
Preached “the tithe” with delivery voice shrill.
Plates piled high with ten dollar bills.
Farewell to churches with peeling paint.
Red brick building, window painted with saints
was a better fit for my growing fame.
I, a man with much respected name.
Offerings swelled swiftly. My status spread.
I wore cashmere suits and designer threads.
Meetings drew crowds where I evangelized.
I was soon told I'd be televised.
Forgot to mention, I took a wife.
She’d met grief and lived a tragic life.
Betty Sue’s faith and clinging loyalty
brought much gain to my ministry.
Our televised show made ratings jump.
We taught prosperity and bible-thumped.
Money came from pledges made through the years.
I pled the needs, Betty cried the tears.
Yet, not content and my life a tomb,
I spent days fading in a darkened room.
My spirit dead, mind racked with despair.
So I took drugs, had my first affair.
Dazed, I lost track of the monies spent.
All hope was gone, my behavior hell-bent.
With taxes unpaid, I was off to jail.
Name in paper, snaps of me in cell.
“Embezzlement here, expensive cars there! ”
My sad life blared in front of easy chairs.
People took it wrong and put God to shame.
But it was just me and sin to blame.
Betty Sue left, my ministry gone.
God summoned me and I faced Him dead-on.
He took me back to my Tennessee home
where I picked beans and sucked honeycomb.
Just a small boy with a heart-felt wish
to spread Good News, so I’d preached to the fish.
I repented then, cried sobering sobs.
He wiped my tears, gave me goldenrods.
“Son, you messed up, played a game with hell.
Like pastors before, you tumbled and fell.
Satan’s precise on which muscles to flex.
His skill, to tempt with money and sex.
Some of your flock will forgive, some won’t.
I’ll never condemn you, please know I don’t.
I’ll love you forever just as you are.
I see the Pastor deep in your heart.”
Years have passed by, yet life’s never dull.
I sit with mama, read her the bible.
Offers fly in to preach everyday.
But I’ll just ...
Preach to the fish ‘til God shows the way.
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