The needle, the whale and the light that came as a dove
When I left you in the last chapter I mentioned moving back in with poor ole mom. In my late 30s, I should have had my life well in order, but I had once again hit the bottom and came crawling back to the only place that I had left on earth. Sarah had bought me a pick-up a few years earlier, and it was a really nice truck Ė before I wrecked it several times. By the time I got to moms the thing looked like it was about to die. I had to stop every so many miles and put water in it because the water pump was out. The starter was out also, so I had to pop the hood and start it with a screwdriver touching the silinoid. The driverís side front fender was missing and it was beat up all over. It looked like I had driven it straight out of a salvage yard. I had it loaded down with everything I owned so when I pulled into Momís driveway it looked like a junk dealer who had wired a pick-up together. To top it off, I had painted houses for a while so it had different color paint splattered all over it. I share all this with you so you can get some kind of picture of how my mother must have felt when she saw me pull up. I hadn't seen her since the last time she came to Lawton to pay some of my outstanding debts to various venders I owed from my latest venture. Needless to say, Mother took me in and provided me a place to stay. At that time I wasnít using drugs but I was drinking over a fifth of whiskey a day and I had no kind of income. Motherís house was on a real busy street so I had the ideal of having a garage sale to support my habit. I had some pretty good collectables from the club days that mother had saved for me in her garage, storage building, and cellar, plus I brought with me some sellable items. Across the street was an old nursing home that had been turned into a VA shelter for homeless vets. Kind of ironic isnít it?
I became friends with the man who ran the shelter and he let the cars from the garage sale park in his lot. Like all the other things I ever began to do, this took off like crazy. I had a way of attracting people and in a few short weeks, what started off being a garage sale, ended up being a full time business. People were bringing me things to sell on assignment. Other garage sales would give me all they didnít sell just to haul it off for them so I not only had Motherís garage and carport full, but her backyard as well. I had acquired so many clothes that I once called a used clothing store in Lawton and the lady came with a van and paid a price for the whole lot. She only wanted a few items but I sold her the whole mess of them. I had the clothes packed into her van like sardines and she was left with barely enough room to drive.
This certainly supported my drinking habit and allowed me to run the clubs at night. It wasnít long though until I was back to my old tricks - selling other peopleís things and pocketing the money because my habits were costing more and more.
Before I had begun making money again I had hit the bottom of the pit by sniffing paint, which I could buy at the dollar store for a buck. When I ran out of money in Lawton and Sarah would not give me any, I would sniff paint by spraying it into a bag and inhaling it. This was the bottom of the barrel to me and my mother caught me doing it at her house. She was so at the end of her ropes as to what to do for me that she even called the sheriffís department a few times. This was the beginning of my relationship with law enforcement in Duncan, but I will get into that more a little later. I wanted to mention the paint incident because it demonstrates the desperation of a junkie to be intoxicated. I absolutely could not stand to live with myself and I had to be high on something.
When I relive these days in my mind, it scares me to death to think that I believed this was really living. What a lie the devil has deceived us in that we believe this is really living, when actually itís slowly dying. The devil really did come to kill, steal, and destroy. He came to kill our bodies, steal our time and minds, and to destroy our relationships and personalities. To destroy that part of the image of God in us, and the family God designed us to be.
Anyway, the garage sale got to be so busy that the parked cars were creating a danger for traffic and the police were called several times. Eventually a city councilman came out with documentation that we were in violation of several ordinances. They probably would have never said anything, but I was running full blast for several months and causing major traffic jams for a small town and Iím sure some of the neighbors were annoyed, as well. However, during this process I met a lot of antique dealers and this began yet another career of mine Ė this time in the antique business. I could no longer sell from the carport, but I became friends with some women who owned antique stores so I began to find things for them. I knew people all over Oklahoma, so I quickly learned a lot about antiques. What I didnít know, I could fake my way through, and if you werenít a pro I could fool you. Thus began a career that led me into the lives of many people in Duncan, some of which were really wonderful people who truly loved me and wanted so badly for me to change my life. They were godly people who God had placed into my path. In looking back, they left indelible impressions on me to this day. I just recently ran into a couple of them and will soon be speaking at their church. They had the largest antique store in Duncan, which leased spaces out to individuals, many of which I helped build. However, the whole time I was working around all the valuable antiques during that stage of my life, I was drinking heavily. Sometimes I would be building fake store fronts and carrying ladders and such tools all around expensive antiques. This godly couple never showed me anything but much love and patience. Iím sure God used me to keep them on their knees praying for angels to keep me from falling or dropping one of these walls and wiping out all kinds of costly antiques.
I became very close to one of the ladies I went around buying antiques with. We knew each other from high school, and she and her husband had rental properties. When my mother couldnít take me any longer and ordered me out of her house, this friend and her husband let me live in one of their apartments.
At that time, all I cared about was having cigarettes and alcohol. I needed very little food, so they gave me the place to stay and would give me enough money for those items, and in return I would help them on the antiques and any work at their house or rent property. Once again, I had found a place to hide and stay messed up. I was still a functioning addict and this went well for close to a year. Once in awhile I became a little to much for my friend to handle, but for the most part I was staying high and content with this arrangement. We went all over the country buying antiques and then we would spend weeks arranging her space. I helped them move from their home into another one to lower their cost of living, but the home they moved to was almost as large, and was on the country club golf course. Of course, the new home needed some improvements made to it and I had talent and experience in remodeling so we began to remodel nearly every room. One morning I got extremely drunk in the process of the remodeling work and I fell out of a tree and injured my leg so badly that I would have lost the leg had it not been for my friend and my mother. The doctor agreed to try and save the leg after my mother persisted. The first surgery was well over ten hours and my leg was saved. I had multiple compound fractures between my knee and ankle. The doctor performed a pioneer surgery and bolted it back together. After I healed a little from the first surgery, I had a knee replacement - which was another long surgery, then many skin graphs. My leg now looks like it has been chewed on by a shark. I was nearly two years on crutches learning to walk again, some of which was due to my lack of discipline and ignoring my therapy sessions. This lady would try her best to get me to therapy, but for the most part I missed as much as I went. For the first few months I was in a wheelchair and could not do anything, but eventually I began to get around on crutches and got so mobile on them that I once again began to work on her house. It is amazing what we can adapt to when we put our heart into it. My leg was laid wide open and I could not put any covering over it that couldnít breath. So for the most part it was exposed because it had to heal from the inside out and if I covered it infection would set in and then gangrene. This was not a pretty sight. You could see the bones in my leg and it took a lot of special cleansing each day which was very painful. My mother and this lady sacrificed so much of their life for me during these years and I don't think I ever thanked them. All I could think about was making sure I had alcohol and cigarettes. It was during these years that I eventually ran this lady and her family out of my life by some harmful actions that began to tear her family apart and my new addiction to prescription pain pills.
During this time in my life, my mother saw what she thought was a little old man, walking down the street all bent over in the dead of winter, motioning for her to pull over into the store parking lot, which by the way was a liquor store. She thought he was going to bum money, which he was, and it was her son. She didnít even recognize her very own son - this is how bad I had gotten.
A few months prior to my ruining my friendship with the lady and her husband, I had fallen asleep, passed out on sleeping pills. It was freezing outside and I was wrapped in a thick blanket laying in front of an open flame old-time heater, the kind that has the grates with a copper gas line coming into the back. I guess I rolled over into it and knocked it over, breaking the gas line feeding it. It turned into a small flame torch and had set the blanket I was wrapped in on fire. My dog Crystal, which I'll write more about later, began to go crazy and the neighbors heard her and came knocking the door down. They drug me out and called the fire department. The neighbor tried unsuccessfully to put the fire out with buckets of water. It had, by that time, engulfed the whole wall. They had to peal the blanket off of me. I looked like a hot dog with my head and feet sticking out of that crispy burned blanket. To this day one of the firemen said he knows that an angel of the Lord saved me, because I didnít have a single red mark on me. I should have been burned alive. This is one of many miracles I'll share. See God never wanted me dead - the devil did. God only wanted me to give Him control of my life and He has had an angel looking over me all the time until He finally brought me to the end of myself, which is what He does for all of us. But as you'll learn in the chapters to come my angel has a lot more work to do, and God has a lot more storms to bring until I finally begin to get it.
I eventually had to have another knee replacement because I had neglected this one so bad and when I got strung out on the pain pills I really abused my leg. I couldnít feel the pain I was causing because I was eating 20-40 ten milligrams of Loricetts a day, plus drinking a fifth of whiskey.
I eventually had to move back in with my mother and became a huge burden on her once again. The pain pills, mixed with that much whiskey, really began to control my life and I began to do really stupid illegal things for money and got into more trouble with the law. I was in and out of jail a half dozen times over various crimes. I had two doctors giving me all sorts of pain pills and still, I was buying them off the street. One of the times while I was in jail, my leg was in such bad shape that I was taken to the doctor and told I would have to have surgery again, but it could not be done while I was in jail. So once again my mother bailed me out, hired another lawyer, and I got two 5-year sentences to do on probation along with several thousand dollars worth of fines with the stipulation that after I had surgery and had time to heal that I would go to a drug rehab for no less than 6 months. The crimes stemmed from me writing bogus checks from checkbooks I found in the trash. I would go to antique stores and buy expensive items with the checks and sell them to other antique dealers in the same area. Those pills made me stupid and I had become a first-rate dumpster diver. I learned the routes of the trash trucks and would get up early on trash day and go to the more expensive neighborhoods and pilfer through the trash they had set out. By then my disability SSI had come in and Mother bought me a little house with a shop in the back. My payments were very reasonable and I should have been able to make it there just fine.
I had refinished a lot of furniture for people in the antique business and had a lot of folks who wanted me to do work for them, and now, I had a new location where I could have a garage sale. It wasnít the prime location as Motherís house was since I was located off the beaten path, but it would due. Plus, there was an empty lot between my house and the neighborís with a huge parking lot so all the things I would find in the trash, I would bring back and sell at this new location and the city never said anything. I also had the shop in the back to refinish furniture.
At any rate, while all this was going on, I was introduced once again to crank - only this time it wasnít long before I had a needle in my arm. One of my motherís friends, whom she considered a daughter, had worked for my mother in the club days for years and was one of the major dealers in the area. She introduced me to the needle and my life was never the same. This new addiction was costly and the needle was a whole new high that I had never experienced before. I would be going for days and weeks at a time and thought this was the greatest thing ever. Little did I know it was slowly killing me - body, soul and spirit. This, mixed with the pills I was taking, led me deeper into darkness and into more trouble with the law. My mother knew I was in real trouble so she bought a place out of town on a major highway that had a brand new shop and office. It had been a used car lot, and behind it was a nice 2-bed, 2-bath trailer on 7 acres. This was ideal for me to have an antique store of my own and to work on furniture. My brother took the house Iíd been living in and mother and I moved to the new location. During this time I had the second knee surgery, and this time I went to the leg rehab like I was suppose to - for the most part. The judge and district attorneyís office was showing a lot of patience with me and allowing me some additional time to heal before going to the drug rehab. This was only because of my motherís favor with the court house. This time the leg began to heal well as a result of the rehab and a costly leg brace my mother and biological father bought for me.
I was still consuming countless pain pills and also discovered a new connection for crank that lived only a few miles from me. As matter of fact, I located several connections since my new residence was close to where a lot of the meth cooks were - a few miles out of town, but in the deep country woods. Once again I had escaped a major bust in town and was safely tucked away with what appeared to be a very legitimate antique and junk store on a well traveled 4-lane highway between Lawton and Duncan, which represented two different worlds for me.
Mother did find an excellent rehab in Oklahoma City at the Salvation Army, called the ďAdult Rehabilitation Center.Ē When it came time for me to go, I had become friends with a man who lived a few miles away from the shop. His place was out in the middle of no manís land and he was cooking a lot of dope. I learned from this man how to make crank and he and I made a lot. While I was recovering from the knee replacement I was hobbling around in the middle of the woods on two crutches cooking this stuff. One time when the laws came in on us he said, ďRun for it!Ē
It was as pitch black as you could get and I was running as fast as I could on two crutches and fell - I donít know how far into an empty creek bed. I was hurting so bad and know I had hurt my leg since I still had the staples in it. All I could do was crawl on the sandy bottom for what seemed like several hours. I had crawled on my belly for a least a mile until I came to a clearing, and could see that the laws had left. I came out and found my friend later. We had escaped and they never found the cook. I shared this to give an illustration of how crazy I was. This had been going on between he and I for several months so by the time it came for me to go to rehab; I fought it tooth and nail. I knew if I didnít go, I would serve 10 years in prison, doing at least 31/2 years of the time. I had stayed up for three or four days before this and shot the last of the dope I had as mom and my aunt Jimmie were beating on the doors of the shop trying to get me to go. We only had a few hours left to get me to Oklahoma City and checked in. They finally did get me out of there and I know I looked like death run over.
At first it didn't look like the rehab was going to take me because of the condition of my leg, I donít think they wanted the responsibility in case something happened to it. I finally signed a wavier and they accepted me. Iíll never forget my first night there. I had shot so much junk in my veins that they began to internally bleed. I had left so many holes in them from the bad needles that if I did anything stressful causing blood to pump through my veins, they would make small marble size lumps and it really scared me. I walked around with marble size bumps all over my arms. It was then I begin for the first time in a long time to take a long look at my self.
Do you remember the very first words God spoke to Adam after he had eaten of the forbidden fruit thus beginning the rebellion of mankind against God our Creator? In Genesis 3:8-9 it says, ďAnd they, (Adam and Eve), heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ďWhere are you?Ē These were the first words God spoke to them after they had committed spiritual murder of there souls. This was the day their spirit died thus beginning the slow process of their soulsí death. Do you think God did not know where they were? He knew exactly where they were, but he wanted them to know where they were. Only moments earlier they had a oneness of spirit with God Almighty. They new nothing but the glory of God and now they had fallen from this glorious platform of only living to be in the presence of God. Before they did not know evil existed, nor rebellion. They only saw life through the eyes God gave them because until then, they had walked in perfect obedience. For the first time they knew what it meant to be alone and scared. They were experiencing guilt and shame - feelings they never knew existed before the fall. God knew exactly where they were but He wanted them to know how far they had fallen. This is the same thing God was asking me, ďDennis where are you?Ē
It was at this rehab, after I got through the first three months, that I ask Jesus into my heart. I almost got myself kicked out of there doing what I always did. I was breaking the rules by drinking and doing things I shouldnít be doing. I came back from a weekend pass and didnít pass a urinalysis. They were going to put me out, but Major Larry D' Berry, who ran that place, had really taken a liking to me and he gave me another chance. So the next three months, I was really under a microscope and thatís exactly what I needed to push me into the hands of Jesus.
As I began to answer that question of ďDennis where are you?Ē and ponder the love Major D'Berry showed me in giving me a second chance, I took a long look at my life. I was 40 years old, lost everything I had, burned every bridge in my life, made and lost small fortunes, and had no relationship with any women. I was crippled, and didnít have a penny to my name, let alone for the future. It was at that time I realized I was lost, not only in this world, but in the one to come. I was headed to the bottom of the pit in life here, and HELL in the next one. It was there in the eight-man room that I knelt by my bed one night and told Jesus that I knew I was rotten to the core, that I was sorry and I needed His forgiveness. I accepted what He did on the cross as payment for my miserable life. Iíll never forget that night as I went to sleep. At around midnight, the Lord woke me up and talked to me. It was like a dream but it was not a dream. I was wide awake and remember it perfectly well, but it still was like I was dreaming. I donít really know how to explain it, but it was God, and He told me everything was going to be alright. Iíll never forget how wonderful I felt after that. The rest of my three months in rehab were like being in heaven. Major Larry begged me to stay, along with a lot of the other staff. They offered me a good job there. Major Larry and his wife told me it was too soon for me to go back into the same environment I had left.
They had a big graduation party for me and we said our goodbyes after 6 months of being a family. To this day, I still have a deep longing to see them again. I loved them and they loved me. We truly were a family and looking back, I should have stayed, but God had a plan as youíll soon see. God tried to make it easy for me but I wouldnít let Him. Before I left, my spiritual brothers and I went into the chapel and they all laid hands on me and prayed for me in the same manner the Ephesians did for Paul when they knew theyíd probably never see him again in this world. They spoke blessings that the Lord would put my business together again and bless me with a special anointing to do mighty things for His kingdom. They spoke a lot of blessing that He would keep His hand all over me and never let me go. I donít remember all of it, but it was something along this line, and today, although I have taken a lot of wrong paths, He has never taken His hand off of me as youíll learn. We were in the chapel for several hours that night and when we came out we were all soaking wet from sweating. The Holy Spirit moved in that chapel like I had never experienced before. It wasnít hot. The sweat was from the anointing the Holy Spirit rained down on us. As we came out, the guys in the center didnít know what to think.
Anyway, they sent me off with a blessing from our Lord and a special anointing from God. Now my exciting trip back to the antique/junk store took on a whole new purpose and outlook on life. I was truly being blessed of the Lord, but had very little spiritual disciplines in my life, such as prayer and Bible reading, or memorizing any scripture, but I was having a lot of emotional experiences with Him.
As you will see shortly, as good as the emotions are, they will only take you so far. What you have to have to walk a victorious life are the truths of Godís word. Some call them the principles that God has given us to stay on His path - the road to heaven. The Bible calls them commandments, statutes, ordinances, precepts, testimonies or laws; but it is all the word of God - the BIBLE. Jesus called it the way and the truth, and if you know these truths said Jesus, you shall be free - free indeed!
This is exactly why Major D'Berry wanted me to stay there longer. We had a wonderful little church there and he was a great preacher/teacher of Godís word. I was also surrounded by all kinds of Christian fellowship and some sort of Bible studies every night. This was a completely Christian-based rehab and they didnít make any excuses about it. As a matter of fact, it was very difficult to get into this place. It was mandatory if you stayed there to go to church on Sundays and you had to get at least two Bible classes during the week. The first two months there you had to be in something every night - no exceptions.
Well as we know, I didnít stay. I told the major that I was fine and I had the business to get back to. I really did believe with all my heart that I could never go back to that old life, but in reality I had only truly been clean for four months, but that was longer than I had been sober since I was 17.
Before I had gotten so far gone on meth, I had built a good business up. Lots of people came from all around, traveling that highway and junk stores were a big thing in that part of the country. However, when I got so far gone and stayed strung out for weeks at a time, I let the place run down until there wasnít anything there but acres of trash. I had been so far gone that I was bringing in anything I found in any bar ditch that I thought looked like junk. The place was a real eye sore and my mother was really ashamed of how run down I had let it become.
When she bought the property, the building wasnít very old. It was an American steel building with 14 foot side walls and two overhead doors. It had about 1200 square-foot and two nice offices in which I turned one into living quarters with a day bed and thatís where I lived for the most part. I would go to the house and shower, but I lived up at the shop. In the days of being strung out, I would be up for weeks at a time hauling all kinds of junk up there from only God knows where.
A few days after getting home from the rehab I begin to clean the store up. I cleaned up the office and turned it into a kind of prayer closet. I didnít know a lot about praying but what I did know I was doing with all my heart in that prayer closet. I tell you, there was an anointing in that room like I have only experienced a few times since. I could just walk into that room and feel the Holy Spirit all over me. I would kneel and goose bumps would come up all over me. Some people may try to explain this away, but I sometimes felt as though I was floating in that room. People were coming in off the highway asking me what I would take for junk that I would have given them to just haul off. God was sending people to buy all that junk, and at the same time, cleaning up the place by getting rid of it. The inside was getting cleaned out also and I was accumulating a little money and restocking the place with some better items. I was certainly walking in the presence of the Lord.
So when I came back I had been clean from drugs for over six months and from alcohol for close to four months. I had a new purpose. My body was healed and rested. I looked good once again. Jesus had cleaned me up and I was a new man. I truly did have a relationship with the Lord and had the best intentions in the world.
I got involved with a little church out by the lake - the one I had visited several times with my mother and aunt over the years prior to this. Brother John Dyer was the pastor, and when I was getting into all the trouble in town, before I moved out on the highway, heíd come by and share the Lordís story with me. He was a great guy and had a true love for the lost, and spent many hours at different times befriending me. So I naturally wanted him to be the one to baptize me. The name of the church was ďNew Hope Church.Ē It was a tiny farm community church and its congregation was mostly older folks. Brother Dyer had, on more than one occasion, tried to get me interested in a larger church in town with youth and young adults - a church that had a lot of activities for single young adults. He knew what I needed and in subtle ways he tried to steer me in that direction. I didnít understand any of that at the time. Those folks accepted and loved me tremendously, and although it was kind of a sleeping church out in the boon docks, it was the first church I had ever been a member of other than the Salvation Army church. I became as involved in it as I could and for the first several months I was there every time the doors were open. I did get baptized there and joined as a member.
Brother John was coming by often before the baptism. He said he just loved coming by because there was such a presence of God all over me. He later told me I was experiencing my first love experience with Jesus. This might have been, but as you will shortly see, there was something much more than a first love experience going on. A few times, people sped into the gravel parking lot, hopped out of their car, and said God had sent them there to be prayed for. I could not even imagine what this was all about and I hardly knew how to pray for myself, let alone anyone else. A couple ladies and I became spiritually bonded through this time of prayer and I did pray for them after finding out their troubles.
Long after I had been taken away, one of these ladies would stop by from time to time and check with mother about my statues. She and several others did this quite often until Mother sold the place. Mother was always worried some of the old crowd would come around and Iíd fall back into the pit God had begun to bring me out of. The one spiritual discipline I did well for a baby Christian was pray and speak with God aloud all day long while I was around the shop. The other discipline of reading and studying the Bible wasnít a priority to me. I thought if I read ten minutes a day, I had accomplished great things. I hated reading - something I never did, but as you will learn, this was the one thing I needed to do as much as praying.
Jesus told this story in Luke 11: 24-26, ďWhen an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ĎI will return to my house from which I came.í And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more than himself, and they enter there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.Ē
Youíll soon learn that this happened to me, but before I get to that, I have to share this awesome story with you. As I said earlier, Mother was worried about the old crowd coming around so one night I went into my prayer closet and begin to cry out to God about Mom. I donít remember everything I prayed, but it went something like this, ďO Lord you know the concerns of Mother and how worried she is. Would you please touch her and let her know that things are going to be alright? Would you please bless this property and visit Mother as you did me and let her know things are in Your Hands?Ē
Iím sure I prayed much more and these are not the exact words, but you get them main points. The next morning around 10 a.m., Mother came up to the shop with tears running down her face. I didnít know what was wrong, but before I could say anything she just started telling me that Jesus had woke her up at around midnight and spoke to her just as plain as she and I were talking. She said it was like a dream, but wasnít a dream - exactly how He had visited me the night I asked Jesus into my heart.
I knew the Lord had indeed visited her because she was beaming and the tears were tears of joy. She told me that the Lord told her everything was going to be all right with my brother and me. He had given her great confidence and peace of mind just as I had asked Him. She stayed for a little while and we shared a God moment together, then she went on about her business.
I was working on refinishing an antique dresser and was setting at the back of the shop with the overhead door open. I believe it was in the middle, or later part of May, and the wind was blowing about 30 mph. The shop set north and south - the back being in the south, and was upon a high hill. It had two overhead doors one on each side at the back of the building - one facing west and the other facing east. I sat with the one facing east open because the sun had already begun to lean toward the west and the east side had a nice shade. With the building situated as it was, the wind blowing as hard as it did on that hill never bothered me as long as it was out of the south as it was that day. There wasnít much grass around the shop, mostly red dirt, so when the wind blew as hard as it did that day, the sky was a reddish color.
Iím guessing it was about 2 p.m. by now, and I was working away on the dresser enjoying the memories of my motherís testimony just a few hours earlier when I glanced toward the east and saw two of the most unusual looking birds I had ever seen. It was really red-looking in the sky because of the dust and wind and they were really far away, but they looked like some kind of robotic cranes. They were so far away that it was difficult to say what they were, but all I know is I hadnít ever seen any like them before. They were flying south and I watched them for a few minutes and as I followed them in their path of flight, my eyes were led to the telephone pole that the electric for the building was attached to. As a matter of fact, the meter was on the same pole down toward the bottom. This pole was about 30-40 feet away from the building in a south east direction and around 25 feet tall. The electric cables that gave electricity to the building ran from the top on the pole to the corner of the building and were about 15 feet off the ground.
Iím sharing all of this so you can get a picture in your mind of the setting Iím about to describe. As I followed those unusual birds, the Lord was leading me to this beautiful solid white dove setting perched upon those wires coming into the shop. He was about half way between the shop and pole, setting perched like and eagle with his wings at attention. The best I know to describe it is that He was at attention, wings straight up and down, boldly at His shoulders. There wasnít another bird in the sky other than those I just described. The wind was gusting so strong that day that it was really impossible for any birds to hang on to power lines, and as I watched this solid white dove it blew my mind.
The power lines where whipping back and forth ferociously and this dove was setting tall, braving all of this. I remember wondering what in the world this dove was doing and where it came from. It was absolutely beautiful - solid white, and it sat parched like some kind of king on his throne even with the whipping of the cables. I watched Him for a long time and finally, as puzzled as I was, I went back to sanding the dresser.
My dog Crystal was laying there with me, and like I always did, I was talking to her. She was about 12 years old at the time. Anyway, about 20 or 30 minutes went by and I glanced back out at the electric line and sure enough, the dove was still there - sitting on His throne as before. This time I noticed He was looking at me and I could not figure out what was going on or how this bird could hang on to that cable so long with it whipping about like it was. I watched for what seemed like 20 minutes and decided I would take it some bread and water. Setting a few feet away from the pole was a stack of cinder blocks protecting a water fountain, so I set the bread and water there, out of the wind and upon a block. I stayed there looking up at the dove for a long time, just admiring its beauty and the authority with which He sat there. Me being right under Him and so close did not bother Him at all and He began to look intently on me. I stood there for awhile until I realized how stupid I mustíve looked standing there talking to a dove to the cars going down the highway.
I was asking Him if He had come on some mission with a message for me. I thought maybe it was someoneís messenger dove and was tired from a long journey. All kinds of thoughts were going through my mind by this time. The thing had been there braving this whipping motion of the wind and cable for well over an hour by now so I didnít know what to think. I was talking to it, but I donít recall a lot of what I said to it at this time.
The highway was about 200 feet to the north and I was on this high hill for everyone to see - talking to a dove. So I went back to the shop with Crystal and began to sand on the dresser again. I donít remember how much time went by but it must have been at least 30 minutes because I had finished the top and sides of the dresser and I looked again to see if the dove was still there. Something told me it would be, so by now I began to realize this was something phenomenal from God. I went back out and to my surprise, the bread was gone. Now Crystal had never left my side and the wind could not have touched it, so go figure!
By this time, I didnít care what the people in the cars thought because I knew this was from God and the days events came back to mind - the prayer I had prayed for Mother, the experience her and I had just hours earlier, and somehow I knew this had to be connected with that. I looked up once again to the dove and told Him I knew the Lord had sent Him and asked Him what He had to share with me. I donít recall everything I asked Him, but I stood talking for what seemed like 10 minutes. Then, something phenomenal and out of this world happened.
Suddenly, the dove became larger than life as though it was transformed right before my eyes. Its colors were brilliant, sort of neon or florescent. I canít think of words to describe it - very panoramic and brilliant. The pictures you receive on these new digital TV's would be close but 100 times more brilliant. Itís as though I was on the Mount of Transfiguration - the dove being enhanced into its glory.
I donít know if anything was happening to my external body, but internally I was feeling sensations that I had never in my life felt before. I had done ever drug known to man and never felt like this. I donít know that He ever said anything to me, nor do I know for sure how long I was there Ė probably a half hour or more, but I knew I had to go get Mother and bring her to this dove.
So I took off down the hill toward the house. It was a good 100 yards toward the south, and it sat much lower than the hill the shop was on. As I got a little ways toward the house down the hill, the shop and electrical lines were out of site. When I got to the house I saw that Motherís car was gone from the carport and I remember being terribly disappointed, but I needed to tell someone so I called Brother John Dyer.
As of yet, I hadnít been baptized. That was still a couple weeks away. They wanted to do a real celebration at the church that day so he was getting it all ready. When he answered the phone, I guess I must have sounded like a lunatic because he said, ďSettle down, Dennis, settle down!Ē So I began telling him that God was at the shop and had come and paid me a special visit. I must have been ecstatic because he kept telling me to slow down and tell him what in the world was going on.
I donít remember our whole conversation, but I do remember telling him over and over that Jesus Himself had come in the form of a dove to visit me.
Of course he wasnít there and didn't experience what I had, so to him, this again was part of my first love experience. And it might well have been, but I havenít ran across a lot of people with this testimony. Still today, many years later, and having walked with the Lord some 10 years, Iím still puzzled as to exactly what this was all about.
I know what some of it represents and some of what was done to me, but Iím still puzzled over much of it. All I know is I long for another visit like that one again. I have had some powerful experiences where Godís presence was overwhelming, but nothing like what Iím about to describe. After we visited awhile, he reassured me this was my first love experience and that I needed to enjoy every moment of it. Looking back I wish I had realized how rare these visits were. I might have done something to have recorded every single thing that happened.
As I went out the back door going back up to the shop, I saw Mother pulling into the driveway so I ran over to her and began to tell her everything as I took her to show her the dove. A half an hour had passed as we reached the top of the hill and I noticed the dove was gone. I remember being so disappointed and telling Mother that I knew by now it would be gone. As I was throwing my little fit of disappointment, Mother said ďDennis, it heard your voice because here it comes.Ē
I donít know why she was looking up, but coming straight from heaven as we were standing in the middle of the field, the dove came right in front of us, turning on its side as it flew right by us and went straight back up into the heavens. Then it came back down and this time, passed right in front of us within a foot of us, turned on its other side - only this time, instead of flying back into heaven, it flew right to the entrance of the property. We had a white fence made of two inch pipe that went around the whole 7 acres, and it hovered about 2 feet above the fence and circled the fence twice.
It looked like an F-16 fighter jet flying around that property. After it circled twice, it came right back to where we were and flew right in front of us again and headed straight back up into heaven and we watched until it flew out of site, never to see it again.
Mother and I stood there in the middle of the field trying to make sense of all this. Mother said to me that the dove must have followed me down to the house and waited for me. It began to dawn on me that one of the things I prayed for was for the Lord to bless the property and I believe by circling it twice, He gave it a double blessing, or was making sure we understood it was being blessed. Whatever it all meant we were both astonished and Mother went back toward the house while I walked back up to the shop. As I reached the top of the hill and got closer to the spot where the dove was on the electric cable, I begin to float. Thatís the only way I know how to explain it. My legs were moving along with my body. I was going through the motions, but I was sort of out of my body - floating. I know of no other way to describe it.
Don Piper wrote a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven in which he describes how he had clinically died in an awful accident and described his entrance to the gates of heaven. One day I heard him on TV telling of his experience and he began to share of how he was walking in heaven and although his body was moving, it was like he was so light that he was floating. Thatís the only person Iíve ever heard to describe what was going on with me. I was floating!
I know many reading this book may not believe that, but I believe the world and modern religion have tried to put God in a box. Too many of the formal churches donít have the spirit of God because they have closed their hearts to believing that God exist outside of the Bible. Thereís not a person alive that loves and believes Gods word anymore than I. I strive to live by the principles of Godís word and teach those principles in the jails, recovery groups, and churches that God leads me to. However, we have to live in this dark world that Jesus walked in and He wants to demonstrate Himself as being as much alive now as then. I love seeing the power of God alive in peopleís lives and one way that happens is through experiences such as this one.
Legalists want to take the emotions out of our relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He created us with emotions and I, for one, love the emotional side of my relationship with God, but itís just as important to understand emotions will not sustain us from the attacks of the world, the devil, or ourselves.
We have to have the truths of Godís word to live a victorious life here in this world of darkness and wickedness. We have to know Godís promises and have them engrafted into our souls in order to keep the joy and peace of God alive in our hearts. We have to know and understand what Godís word says on everything, and it does have something to say on absolutely everything. And then, we have to DO WHAT IT SAYS. This is the only way to live the abundant life that Jesus promises. It is the truths of Godís word that do set you free from the tyrannies of Satanís attacks to kill, steal, and destroy all forms of human and spiritual life.
I floated around on that hilltop for a whole week and everything I looked at was beautiful. I must have been looking through the eyes of the Lord because the ugliest things looked beautiful to me. I canít remember having a bad thought about anyone or anything. I recall setting in front of the building shortly afterwards and watching the cars go down the highway. Iíll never forget thinking, ďWOW! Iíve never felt like this before in my entire life no matter what I drug I was on!Ē
The cars were floating or hovering down the highway. Everything seemed to be in slow motion and the peace of God hovered over that whole property. In looking back I now know that the glory of God had come down on that property and it was indescribable what I was experiencing. Even when I was using the riding mower to cut the grass, it was the same. The mower was cutting, but I still felt I was floating. It was during this time that people came in off the highway to be prayed for and many other phenomenal events were taking place.
Brother John was coming by to take me around because I was glowing and he wanted to show me off. It might have been like when Moses was on the Mount with God. Iím certainly not comparing myself to Moses, but I was glowing.
You might think a man who had an experience like this could never fall from grace. How could someone have a mountain top experience like this and ever tumble down so low, as youíll discover in the next chapter. As I began this chapter I mentioned the needle, the dove and the whale, but as I continued with this wild ride of my life, I decided to save the whale for the next chapter. Remember the story Jesus told of the man whom He had cast a demon out of? The demon went to a dry place, returned and found the house clean, but empty. He went and found seven more demons worse than himself and they came back and took up residence there and the latter end of that man was worse than the beginning. Well I wasnít filling my house with Godís word. I was enjoying the experiences and emotional side of the relationship, but I wasnít practicing the disciplines of spending time with the Lord in His word and learning who He was by spending time with Him. In any relationship, we get to truly know people by spending time with them. Itís the same with our Lord, and we spend time with Him by letting Him speak to us and show us His heart and character. He gives us His Fatherly advice and instruction through the Word, which is Jesus Christ Himself!
John 1:1-5, 14 says, ďIn the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.Ē
I had beheld the glory of God for an entire week but would not get into the word as I knew I should have. But like Jonah, the Lord had a whale awaiting me. He tried to do this the easy way, but like every other lesson in life, I had to learn this one the hard way as well. But thank God He never does leave or forsake us and that as many as He loves, He does rebuke and chasten, that they may be zealous and repent - Revelation 3:19.