I was baptized for the first time in Jackson, Ms. maybe in 1968. Probably in 1968.
I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with church.
I expect that I had been in one at least a dozen times. Fact is that I had been to the Church of The Nazarene a couple of times with my girl friend a few years before.
The only thing I can remember about that was that people were speaking in tongues, and running around the very small building screaming?
For those unfamiliar with running at church, I am not speaking about running around the outside circumference. Running usually takes place inside the church. About the only place you have to go is around and around the inside walls.
I don’t think I was alarmed, or even thought it different. I just wasn’t well versed enough on the whole church scene in 1964 to know what was supposed to be happening, or not happening.
I think though, that I would be safe in saying that I was likely hoping they would hurry up and get through. My girl friend and I had some business we wanted to take care of at the park?
Anyway, a few days after being baptized for the first time I headed out to board the USS Independence, an aircraft carrier.
I was on my way to spend a year in bars, card board cities, and whore houses that were conveniently located within walking distance of ports of call we visited every week.
I had a masters degree in getting drunk, vomiting, going to brigs, jails, whorehouses, fighting, running, stealing stuff from prostitutes for fun, lying, and more, before I was baptized.
But having given my life to Jesus, I headed out with a new found attitude about drinking. I just wasn’t going to do that anymore.
That’s all I knew.
I didn’t know anything about God. Didn’t know who in the world Jesus was? I did know he had something to do with the rules that would severely limit my ability to live the only live I had known since I could remember.
I have a pretty vivid memory of sitting on a bunk a week or so later and trying to figure out what I was supposed to glean from that little bitty bible. I think I had one that was Navy issue, and one from Creston Hills Baptist. How could I go wrong?
Except – I had never tried to read anything so difficult to decipher.
I had a good idea that drinking, wrecking automobiles, Jesus, baptism, and going to hell if I died, had some real connection to that real fine print; but for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out?
Who was this Jesus anyway?