Never The Same Again
reeze! Dont move or Ill
shoot! The authoritative voice brought sudden fear my heart pounded
violently! As I turned toward the direction of the commanding words, I was shocked to find
myself staring down the barrel of a .38 revolver! Just ten feet away, the plain-clothes
detective pointed the gun nervously the suns reflection gleamed brightly from
his chrome-plated badge.
The six of us, all teenagers, sat stunned and motionless along the
creek, as the rustling sounds of police officers emerged from their hiding places in the
dense woods. It was a drug bust. My pot-dealing friends and I had made the mistake to
think we were secluded, but we were caught.
I was frightened and trembling. I had never been arrested before
nor had I ever had a gun pointed at my face. For a few moments, I became numb to
the events around me, and my thoughts rambled through a surreal playback of past events in
my life. For a moment I saw myself as a child sitting in Sunday School with a Bible in my
lap. With tears swelling in my eyes, I heard the distant words, Oh how far away from
God you have gone!
At the time of these things in 1971, I didnt realize that this
was the beginning of a number of life-shaking events that God would use to get my
attention. Little did I know that my dear praying mother was on her knees day and night,
seeking the Lord to bring her wayward son back to God.
Its not as though I didnt know the right way. I was
raised in a Christian home. From my earliest memories as a child in the Indiana farmlands,
I could recall my parents taking their five children to church on Sundays. As a little
boy, I can remember my lengthy prayers to God... and how Mother always reminded me that
she had dedicated me to the Lord as a baby.
My life, however, took a different direction sometime during the
seventh grade. I developed a fascination with drums, and started taking lessons. It
wasnt long until I had become proficient enough to be promoted to the High School
band. That same year I begged my parents for a drum set for Christmas who, despite
their modest means, did somehow produce a Sears and Roebuck set under the Christmas tree.
From that point, there were few days of peace and quiet around our
house as I practiced and pounded day and night. Drumming became my niche in life. I
advanced through the ranks of High School bands and orchestras, while after school I would
join some of my guitar playing friends to practice top 40 rock and roll tunes.
When I was only fourteen, I received my first break into the world
of music entertainment. A local professional group had recently lost their drummer, and
with a schedule of dates to fill, they were searching frantically for a replacement.
Someone suggested my name, and despite my young age (and my parents objections), it
wasnt long until I was traveling every weekend to night clubs and concert halls to
perform with the reputed group. No longer did I have time for church. The Christian values
I had grown up to believe, were rapidly becoming a faint memory, as I only became more
blinded by the bright lights of the world.
During the next six years, I climbed the ladder of rock and roll
notoriety, playing with a number of popular hard rock groups... some who had performed
with such greats as The Who, Sonny & Cher, REO Speedwagon, and many others who were
well known in the late sixties and early seventies. However, in the rock music culture, I
began to be exposed to a lot of new things I had not learned while growing up. Alcohol,
drugs, immorality, and every kind of perversion was commonplace in that environment. My
parents never really knew the full extent of my involvements, only that I was far away
One night, I was returning home in my fast new Chevy Camaro. I was
rapidly approaching the crest of a hill at a high speed when the headlights of two
vehicles suddenly appeared. Two late-night drag racers were speeding directly at me in
both narrow lanes. There was no time to react, nor any place to go the cars were
only about 60 feet away.
The last thing I remember is thinking to myself, this is it!
Im going to die! as I let out a yelp and jerked the steering wheel hard to the
right. Then came terrible sounds of screeching tires and grinding metal... the blur of
headlights seemed to spin all around me, as smoke and dust billowed into the air.
For several minutes I was slumped over the steering wheel in a state
of shock. When I gathered my composure, I looked up and could see the hazy image of dust
still rolling in view of my headlights. I slowly pushed my door open and climbed out, but
was trembling so violently I could barely stand up. Needless to say, I was amazed that I
was still alive... and surprised to discover that I had no physical injury, or damage to
my car. Neither was there any sign of the other two automobiles.
Looking at my car parked neatly in the side ditch, I wondered,
did this really happen, or did I just hallucinate all this? But then I looked
back at the road surface. Under the moonlight I could see the long black tire marks in
every direction the fresh odor of burnt rubber was in the air, and the residue of
smoke and dust was still settling. No, it wasnt imaginary... but somehow my car
passed by two others on a narrow strip of road without a scratch!
As I realized the impossibility of what just occurred, I collapsed
onto the hood of my car and began to weep uncontrollably. I knew that God had something to
do with saving my life. Once again, unbeknown to me, prayers were prevailing in my behalf
God had gotten my attention again, gradually bringing me to a place that I would
consider His grace and mercy.
It was only a few weeks later that I began to experience an unusual
series of personal disasters. I broke my hand in an accident, which effectively ending my
drumming (for the time)... and I lost my day job, which was my primary means of support. I
also suddenly became homeless I had previously angrily, distanced myself from my
family who had challenged my sinful lifestyle.
Although it was the middle of one of the coldest winters on record,
I had no place else to stay but in my car. At night, I parked on isolated country roads,
and bundled myself in winter clothes to sleep. One night, the temperature became so cold
(-20 degrees) that the back window of my car shattered and fell out. This brought me to a
breaking point. I had lost everything that had been meaningful to me, and now I
didnt even have any place to keep warm. Despair began to set in, and for many nights
thereafter, I sat in my drafty car, stoned or drunk, contemplating ways to end my life.
One night, I was sifting through my belongings, and came across a
box with a Bible inside. It was a keepsake that my sister gave me for my 13th birthday,
but I had never read it. I began to cry as I looked through its pages. I remembered many
of the stories about Jesus from Sunday School as a small child. For the first time in many
years, I began to think about God. I wonder if God could change my life, I
thought to myself.
Just a few days later, the lack of sleep and abuse of stimulants
caught up with me. I passed out in a restaurant, and was taken to the hospital by
ambulance. It was there that I saw my mother for the first time in many months. However,
when I saw her, there was a difference about her. Though she had always been a professing
Christian, she had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and had drawn closer to God than
ever before. There was something new and vibrant about her. Her words were not condemning,
but were kind... Dale, you need to let Jesus come into your heart and change your
I was stunned by her statement. In all my years, I had never heard
my mother speak of Jesus in such a real and personal way. Though I didnt let on
outwardly, her comments pierced my heart. I thought much about what she said... I also
secretly spent more time reading in the Bible.
I was grateful that Mom welcomed me back home to live, and a few
weeks later, shortly after my 20th birthday, she invited me to attend special services
that were taking place at her church. I made up an excuse why I couldnt go, but
inwardly I was curious about this church, and the change it had made in my mothers
life. A couple weeks later, I drove by the church a few times to see if I could peek in
and find out what it was like there. I could see nothing from the outside... but one
night, I finally got up enough nerve to sneak in and sit on the back row after the service
It had been a long time since I heard church hymns both the
music, and the simple sermon touched my heart deeply. Inside me, there was a melting, a
stirring... tears trickled down my face during the whole service. Finally, the preacher
said, If theres someone here tonight without God, I invite you to come to the
altar and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. My heart began to pound. I knew
something about altar calls from attending church as a kid. I knew it was where people
prayed and made things right with God. I had mixed feelings. I wanted so much to reach out
to God, but I also felt scared and wanted to run. Suddenly, I stood up to walk out the
exit... but for some reason, instead of escaping, I turned and walked down the long aisle
toward the altar.
Needless to say, my mother was stunned to see her son walking down
the aisle that night. Finally at the altar, I collapsed to my knees, and there I wept as
the pastor came and prayed with me, leading me in the sinner's prayer of repentance. For
the next two hours, I continued crying at the altar, repenting of my sins and rebellion,
surrendering my life to Christ. It was a moment that I would never forget... that changed
my life forever.
For the first time in my life, God was no longer some ambiguous or
distant entity He was real, and His Spirit was now living in my Heart! When I
walked from the church that night, there was a difference about me that I could not fully
explain... I felt clean and different inside. Everything seemed new... even the moon and
stars in the sky appeared brighter. From that night on, I never had a desire for drugs or
alcohol again... I forsook a life of sin, and sincerely began to
live as a Christian.
The reality of what Jesus did in my heart was so vivid that I had to
tell others. I told my friends and family, and eventually took tracts and went out to the
streets to witness and tell others about my discovery of the reality of Jesus. It was
never my intent to become a preacher or minister... something that was far from my
thinking. But nearby churches asked me to share my story, and this eventually became my
lifes mission and passion, to share Jesus with others.
Many years have passed, but the reality of Jesus still remains as fresh and real today, as when He first came into my heart. After I met Jesus, I was never the same again! (2 Corinthians 5:17)