I once knew a person that, after having read this short account, reacted in a way that was entirely unexpected, including the following statements :" I think you should delete that writing ". " Your dad would never have wanted people to hear that story ". " I hope you haven't shared that story with anyone".*********
For my entire life, from birth till my father went to be with the Lord ( 2009 ) , my dad was extremely reluctant to talk about his rebellious past. Despite decades that separated him from the sins of his youth, he was unlikely to revel in those memories, or share them like war stories.As impressionable kids growing up, our family was rife with outrageous tales of unchecked rebellion and reckless living. Out of the 9 Rae boys, my dad and uncle John, would prefer to spend their time dwelling on The Lord who had graciously saved them, as opposed to their early lives, from which they were blessed to even survive.However, anyone that really knew my dad would agree that even one single soul drawing nearer to The Lord, from having heard his story, would by far trump his reluctance to elaborate on his past. My dad didn't tell me this story until just a few weeks before he went to be with The Lord. And I would assure anyone, that it would never be his wish that it be deleted or hidden in order to protect his reputation. Not a chance.
Soul Trouble. RHR. Circa 1956-57
I was standing outside a beer parlor at the corner of Lonsdale and 3RD. I had to lean against a telephone pole in an effort to keep my balance. I was drunk again.I heard a motley crew stumble out of the bar and into the street behind me. Even in my drunken state, I realized that this could be trouble. The only reason I was out on the sidewalk, and not in the bar, was because I'd lost my cool. It was a recurring issue, but this time I'd hit the wrong guy. And this time his friends wanted street justice, and I was there, leaned up against a wooden pole, a perfectly positioned victim. My only hope was that they were as wasted as me, and would simply walk on by.My adrenaline started to tear its way through my veins, when I heard one of them recognize me. At once the 4 of them closed in on me, and I made a split second, drunken decision. I decided to take on them all.
The first guy I hit dropped like a school yard punk. There was no drunken handicap now. Adrenaline outranks alcohol absorption, almost all of the time. I split the second guys lips with a haymaker that caught him flush, then I turned just in time to catch a thumping blow to my temple. I staggered, but stayed on my feet. They were hanging back now, unsure of themselves. But then a bottle smashed, and a pesky little native came at me from the corner of my eye. It was too late to bob or weave or even step aside. The ragged half of the shattered bottle, ripped through my shirt and into my shoulder. I got my hands around his throat, determined to exterminate him, there and then. But the blood poured, and the earth shook, and I heard a bunch of Officers assessing the situation. As I gathered my wits, a friend of my brother slowed down, his car being no more than a foot from the curb, and I somehow stumbled in on the passenger side. We left that haywire scene, minutes before the Cops started to round up all the transgressors, and hustle over to the RCMP lock-up on 13th, adjacent to Lions Gate Hospital. *. *. *. My brother and I drove straight to my eldest brothers home, and I was still significantly impaired as my oldest sewed up the ragged slashes to my shoulder. The remains of the glass beer bottle, were lodged pretty deep and it took a particularly unfazed, steady handed street surgeon, to sew the gashes together. My oldest sibling was go-to for pretty much anything a rugged crew could need. The remainder of the weekend was a blur, but by late in the day on Sunday, I made my way home. I needed to see my mom, and I needed to get right with The Lord. *. *. *. It was 6 pm and time for my father to call home. He was on a deep sea freighter and, as an officer, had the luxury of using the ships sea to land nautical radio to stay in touch with his family. When I stumbled into the house I heard the familiar sound of their nightly conversation. I was dying inside, tormented by my separation from God. My mom saw the look in my eyes, and was uniquely equipped to qualify my pain. "Bill I love you and I'll talk to you tomorrow" she told my Dad. "Bobby just walked in, and he's got Soul Trouble". Mom had a knack for knowing when the soul needed attention. She came and held me for a moment, and I gushed with sorrow. All my sins were before me, and I couldn't contain my emotions. I'd been steeped in the Faith, the product of 2 highly committed Christians. And I knew what I had to do.Mom gave me a Bible and turned it to Psalms 51. It is a Psalm of contrition, King David crying out to the Lord for forgiveness and restoration. Mom had seen her share of good intentions, sons that had cried out for help, then returned almost immediately to their rebellion. She told me to take that Bible and go upstairs to a room where I could be alone with the Lord, no interruptions. She told me that Gods Word could reach me where I was, and all I had to do was open my heart, and let Him speak to me. I spent the better part of 5 hours in the room above the stairs. I never heard a 'voice', or experienced what some might call a supernatural intervention. But what I did experience, would change my life forever.God reached down that day and drew me close, promising me that I was forgiven. He used the words from Psalm 51 to convict me, and then absolve me. *. *. *. I thank the Lord, everyday, for parents that loved Him and bestowed on me the gift of His mercy, despite my never having deserved it. And I thank Him for a mother that recognized that I had 'Soul Trouble', and knew where to send me to make things right with The Lord.*********
My dad never turned his back on Christ for even a moment of his ensuing 50 years. The change in his life and his fearless stand for The Lord would win many hardened men for Christ, including many of his own brothers. When we lost him in 2008, people I'd never heard of showed up at his ceremony and shared how his testimony and example, had changed their lives. I thank The Lord almost everyday for a grandma that walked so closely with The Lord that she could recognize Soul Trouble and the Scriptures that would lead my dad back into fellowship with The Son.
Psalm 51 : 1-31 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before m