I started out as a child…1
So, do you want the long version or the short version? The truth is that our lives aren’t a series of line items on a résumé, so this isn’t the short version; they never give an accurate picture. (But don’t worry, it’s only a few of these short pages!) Our lives are a story; a wonderful ongoing adventure. And yes, I really did start out as a child.
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. In fact, at 10 years old I was the first person in my family to express an interest in going to church! I was spending a weekend with my grandparents, when to everyone’s surprise I announced on Sunday morning that I’d like to go to church. Nobody has any idea what might have prompted me to do that, but my grandfather agreed to take me and we found ourselves at a small Southern Baptist church. Apparently I raved about it so much through the week that my grandmother and two uncles joined us the following Sunday. I was baptized right after my 11th birthday. I continued to pester my parents until they began to attend as well, and we’ve long since been a Christian family.
I was one of those “on fire” teenagers, sometimes going door to door, active in the youth group, playing piano at church, and even doing a bit of preaching. I had the blessing of baptizing my high school sweetheart (now my wife). Many assumed I would go into ministry. Not so fast…
I left Ohio to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas. I selected it because it was one of very few schools that had programs in religion, music, and computer science. The fact that it had a whole lot nicer weather and the Dallas Cowboys didn’t hurt either. At that point my years in the church had been a much closer to the legalistic end of the scale than the gracious end, so once I was on my own it will come as no surprise that I took advantage of the opportunity to learn first hand what “wild oats” were.
I began co-opping with IBM while going to school, and soon discovered that what I was learning in college was a few years behind the real world. Plus, that high school sweetheart I left behind was threatening to discover there may be other guys in the world! So I went back to Ohio to marry her and took her back to Dallas where I left school and began working at IBM.
1A great line, shamelessly stolen from Bill Cosby.