1 - "SHUG"
Part 2 - "SHE MADE HER BED - LET HER SLEEP IN IT"
Part 3 - "TOO WET TO PLOW"
Part 4 - "A HARD ROW TO HOE"
Part 5 - ALL DRESSED UP - FINALLY!
Back to What SDAs NEED to Know
I yearned for a home with a real kitchen, where I didn't have to clean up nuts and bolts, strips of metal, ink, and set all kinds of tools on the floor before I could bake bread or make a salad. I was still working too many long hours. Al, after school was taking orders, delivering trophies, or at the bowling lanes, or so he said. Many nights, and much too late, I had no idea where he was. Sometimes when he came in well after midnight I would tell him he wasn't getting enough sleep and he would say he didn't need as much sleep as most folks did.
Al found a mobile home that was easy to buy, in a park near us, and thought if the girls and I moved into it for awhile that everything would be okay. I thought it was worth a try, but wasn't too optimistic. I knew I couldn't keep up the pace any longer. But I would have to do something to support us. Mr. Neal offered a couple of days work a week in the Hot Springs store, so I drove over twice a week. But that left the girls alone after school those days. I had to get started at something, though. I had no knowledge whatsoever of our finances. The amount of trophies going out indicated there was plenty of money somewhere if Al was charging correctly for them. He was still teaching full-time, plus he got paid for driving the school bus. In addition to that he worked at the bowling lanes. Where did all the money go? Our house payment was low, the utilities low. We burned wood in the winter which was cheap or free. We didn't have air conditioning in the summer. The girls were in public school now, so there was no tuition. He either was selling the trophies too cheaply in an attempt to undercut his competitors, or there was something funny somewhere - child support, alimony, or other payments I didn't know about.
There were three bank accounts. One he called mine, with both our names on it, in which he would deposit $20.00 or $30.00 as he thought I needed it. I consulted him before I wrote a check. There was a business account, from which he wrote checks for parts, etc. Then he had his own personal account with only his name on it, about which I knew nothing.
The mobile home was nice. The living room was a living room, the kitchen was a kitchen. We could relax there. Al was in and out, and I was in and out back at the house, still designing most of the trophies.
Patti was having some health problems. I remembered the doctor had predicted a change in her condition about this time. Our family doctor was treating her, but he didn't know what might be the problem. He decided I should take her to the Medical Center for some intensive observation of her problem.
I was having the guilts for leaving the girls alone until late two days a week. Things were going to have to come to a head soon. We couldn't go on much longer as we were.
Jerry brought a friend with him at his Spring break. That night they went by the house and made the terrible discovery that every bit of the trophy business was gone! Everything. The boys and I had our lifeblood in that business. My health had gone into it. And now it was gone? Jerry was furious! When we came home from an outing together the next day, the screen had been ripped on one of the large windows of the mobile home and the glass broken out. We could tell it was Al who had been in there, for he wrote some sarcastic comments on my music which I had left open on the organ and had taken, not his own record albums, but the ones he knew Will had given me, as well as my favorite winter coat with a silver fox collar!
"My" bank account had been closed! I had no access to the others. Word came back to me that Al was going to "bring her to her knees." That was the last straw. In order to have gas money, I went to a store where he stopped each day on his bus route, and cashed a check for $25.00. I didn't tell the guy the account was closed, of course. He was a friend of Al's so I knew Al would make it good. I was afraid to try for more. "Our" business was gone, I was broke, then I was told he had filed for divorce. Someone saw it in the paper and told me. As soon as I had borrowed what cash Jerry had to pay the retainer to have an attorney cross-file, Al dropped his suit.
Jerry was afraid for us to stay where we were. He said if I was going to work in Hot Springs, I should live there, and he was right, of course. Dan said his cousin had a truck and a driver, and the boys loaded me up and got me out, fast. I found a small place on Lake Hamilton with a big screened porch looking out over the lake. My daughters and I could be happy there. The rent was $90.00 per month. I didn't know how I would manage that amount, but I had to have a place. Thanks to Jerry and his friend, we got moved.
Our doctor had admitted Patti to the University Medical Center, and I was driving over there every other day, calling her on the odd days. They couldn't find out why she was having pain in her side and those red blood cells were still showing up where they didn't belong. She had had several kidney infections while we were overseas, and had become allergic to the sulfa treatment. A Japanese doctor, one of the seven who were monitoring her, wanted to do a kidney biopsy. I was worried sick. He told me that one of Patti's kidneys was about the size of a walnut and he wanted to know why, but the other doctors were not in favor of a biopsy. I thought the pressure of all the problems would destroy me. But I hadn't seen nothin' yet!
Jerry had come home for a weekend with his Margaret and I had given them my older-model Cadillac to run around in Saturday night. I had paid down on the car for the girls' and my transportation. Sunday morning when we awoke, I went out to feed Wolfie, and the car wasn't there! I looked around to see if Jerry had parked it someplace else. Then I thought he had failed to set the brake and it had somehow rolled down the hill into the lake.
But no, that had not happened, either. We looked the area over carefully and after a bit of deduction knew where it had gone. Number one, Wolfie had not barked. The thief was someone he knew. Number two, the footprints around the car were a small man's size. Al had small feet. He had always gotten a kick out of putting his foot beside mine and laughing hilariously because they were the same size. Jerry had left his billfold in the car. It was gone.
I called my insurance agent.
"My car has been stolen!"
"I'm sorry," he said. "Your husband canceled your insurance last week."
Ah-ha! The picture comes clearer. Now I was going to be the recipient of his hate. I knew what he had done to one of his other wives - I now knew there had been at least three before me - and to some of the other people he had fallen out with through the years. I went to the fellow who was selling us the car. He had no insurance which would cover him. However, he let me take a little '62 Fairlane, because he felt sorry for me without a car. I got it back to the house, and the next morning it wouldn't start.
"I need to go see Patti," I wailed to Dan. "I've already missed a day seeing her."
"Take my car and go see your daughter," he insisted.
Reluctantly, I drove his Chrysler to Little Rock, and spent some time with Patti. I talked to the doctors again. They were going to release her in a couple of days, and turn all her records over to a leading pediatrician in Hot Springs, where I was to take her immediately.
As I left the hospital I was glad I would be taking her home. My sons were grown, Laurie and his bride soon to graduate from nursing school, and Jerry, my mainstay of late, was in love and going on to college in the fall. The girls and I could start over and enjoy each other out on the lake. I would file for divorce in my home county, and get this all behind me.
Conscious of the fact that I was in a borrowed car, I was driving with more than my usual caution down a one-way street, well within the speed limit. I was passing through an intersection on a green light when a car came speeding into the intersection from my right, against the red light, up the wrong side of the street, and plowed into the right rear fender of Dan's car, turning me completely around in the street! Fortunately, I was belted in. Physically unhurt, mentally stunned, I waited for the police.
"Why were you going the wrong way on a one-way street?" he asked. Instead of punching him out for being so stupid, I got out and pointed to the cave-in on the car. He did a little figuring and saw the tire marks on the street.
"Gol-lee! He turned you completely around, didn't' he? Are you all right?"
I told him I thought so.
"But it's a borrowed car!" I groaned. "My car wouldn't run this morning and I borrowed this car to visit my daughter in the Med Center!"
"What kind of car do you drive?" he asked me.
"A little '62 Fairlane," I responded.
"Well, I'd say you better be glad you were in this one. That guy would have torn your little car all to pieces. You'd a-prob'bly been badly hurt, if not killed." I began to appreciate Dan's 5000-plus pounds 1965 Imperial.
A couple of weeks earlier Dan had put an arm around me, in the midst of all my many troubles, and said,
"You know," he point to his chest, "you know you're getting to me right here, don't you?"
I had rebutted with, You'd better stay a long way from me. I'm jinxed!"
So I went to the phone and called him, back in Hot Springs.
"Do you love me?"
"Sure I do. Why?"
"Oh, Dan, I've wrecked your car!" I cried.
"Are you all right? Are you hurt?" I assured him I was all right, and that the car was only banged up on the rear fender. I drove on back to Hot Springs with my body trembling, and Dan assessed the damage. The insurance would take care of it, all but the deductible. The police had not gotten the names of witnesses, who were all gone by the time the cops arrived. The guy who hit me was in the wrong all the way. He had even been drinking. His car, a little light-weight ford, was totaled. I never knew if the people in the car with him were hurt. I don't know how they could have been otherwise.
I told the Insurance agent that I remembered a little red VW bug at the light, and with that lead, a search for "red bugs" produced the witness who backed up my story, and the last we heard, they were going to make the driver of the other car pay. What a price for a couple of beers too many! Dan's car was repaired, but some members of both his and my families had a lot to say about me driving Dan's car. One takes help from where it is offered.
* * * * * *
Al called and said he wanted to talk to me. Would I meet him at a motel?
"Well where, then?" I told him to come by the store and we would go to a nearby cafe. We went to a booth in the back of the room for privacy, but I joked and carried on with the waitress to the extent I knew she would remember me. I didn't want Al to invent reason to impugn my recently-filed divorce with false accusations of our being in a motel together. That was possible in those days.
"I never knew how much work you were doing," he said. "I don't know how you did it. I can't do it, neither can the girls. We just can't keep the business going without you." But there was no turning back now. I could never forget the meanness. Where was my car? Why did he cancel the insurance? There was just too much planned, deliberate maliciousness.
Well, he was sorry, he just thought if he took everything away from me I would have to come back for help. (I'd die first!)
"Let me do something for you now. You shouldn't be driving that little Fairlane. Why, it's positively dangerous. Why don't you let me take it, and you and the girls can have the station wagon. I'll make the payments until you are able to. If the Fairlane breaks down I would know what to do, where you wouldn't." Blah, blah, blah. Can you believe I bought it?
I went up to Jerry's and Margaret's Senior presentation at the academy. It was a big weekend for them. Margaret sang beautifully and Jerry played a fine classical guitar, as they emceed the festivities, and I was proud of them as I watched them perform.
My attorney was trying to deliver a Notice of Hearing to Al. The Pulaski county Sheriff's office couldn't find him. He knew well what he was doing, and he had to avoid them until he had it done. The notice was to restrain him from disposing of any assets of the trophy business. It was supposed to be a partnership, and our attorney had drawn up the papers to that effect. Also, temporary support was to be set up for me, as well as attorney fees.
He did not come for the hearing, as he didn't want to get in a courtroom, but he finally came over and signed an agreement to send, through the court, $50.00 a week to me until the divorce was finalized. He also paid the temporary attorney fees, agreeing to the part about not disposing of the business.
He never sent me a cent, and the business was long gone. So much for four long, very strenuous years of my life.
The week before Jerry and Margaret were to graduate, a well-dressed, professional-looking young man came into the store looking for Pat Dill. He knew exactly where to find me.
"I've been told to pick up your car," he said.
"Don't you have a green Plymouth Station Wagon?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, I'm supposed to pick it up." My heart went to my shoes. Would the troubles never end? We talked. He told me that the payments had not been made for more than three months - two months before Al brought me the car - and he had to pick it up.
"Mr. Dill told me where I could find it." I told him my sad car stories, and that I was going to my son's graduation that weekend, to bring him and his belongings back with me. Dan vouched for me, assuring the young man that I would be back, so the young man had a little mercy and said he would say he hadn't found it yet, and be back the following week.
Laurie and Joyce had moved into our house in Little Rock and were planning to take up payments on it. That would have been a good deal for them. However, Al would not let them alone, driving out there and hassling them with his gripes, complaints, and some outright lies about our relationship, and it was most unpleasant for the newlyweds. Then he swindled Laurie out of several hundred dollars, hurting them more, and making me all the madder at him. To top it off, he fouled up the house deal. Our troubles became a really difficult problem for the kids, especially since Joyce had become pregnant much earlier than they had planned. Laurie had liked Al and had gotten on with him pretty well, so he was torn between us. I tried not to say much, and let them work it out the best they could. What else could I do?
Laurie and Joyce went with us to Gentry for Jerry's graduation, and Margaret came back down with us for a visit afterward. The car was loaded on the way back, but we all had a good time.
True to his word, the repo-man came and picked up my car. Now Al had successfully taken three cars from me, and he was carefully out-of-pocket. How in the world did he think I would come crawling back to him after all that? Or was it just revenge at this point? And if he had ever loved me as he said he did, why would he want me to suffer, even though I left him? I couldn't enjoy watching any of those people who had hurt me in my lifetime suffer - I wouldn't get pleasure out of watching any of them tortured or abused. I surely didn't know how to choose a husband, did I?
* * * * * *
I was impotent to do anything about the loss of the car. I was barely paying rent and utilities. Jerry got a job for the summer, so he would be carrying his own expenses and have the fee he needed to enter college. Two weeks later the job closed down, and all the guys had to look elsewhere for work.
Meantime, Bryan had invited Jerry to come visit him. Said he had two used cars from which Jerry could take his choice and drive one back to Arkansas. Since he had nothing else to do, Jerry decided to go out East and visit his dad. I was a little fearful, as any mother would be after all this time, but I needn't have worried. Jerry had to sneak away from their oh-so-righteous home to get a hamburger. Or to call me. They tried to get him to call Lucinda "Mother". That is a little too much for an eighteen-year-old.
Jerry thought the Dodge his daddy had would be the better of the two cars, but his dad insisted that he should take the Corvair. Poor kid! It boiled black smoke out its rear-end all the way to Arkansas. It was nothing but trouble from then on. He learned a lot about mechanics working on that piece of junk. His dad wouldn't help him with any money to get it fixed or buy new parts, knowing Jerry really needed a car to get back and forth from Arkansas Tech, which he would be attending that Fall.
I got a mortgage on the car. It wasn't worth very much, but enough to pay for books and entrance fees, and the girls and I moved into a dinky little $35.00 a month shanty so I could pay off the mortgage. I missed the mobile home on the lake. It was so quiet, and the view was so restful. Now we looked out on one of the busiest highways in the area, and the dust from the driveway was bad. But we were still all together, and what's so bad about being cozy for a winter? At least the utility bills were low! When Dan would drop around after work and find the girls doing homework and me sewing, while there was quiet music drifting from the stereo, he would say that was what a home should be like.
Dan had fixed a room in the store for himself and he was living there, going home on weekends to spend time with his son, who was a senior in high school that fall.
* * * * * *
Treasury Department, IRS
Mrs. Dill has a divorce suit pending against her husband Al Dill. I represent Mrs. Dill in the matter, and it has come to my attention through her that there might be an income tax problem.
Specifically, in the past Mr. Dill had prepared joint returns and had Mrs. Dill sign them. Her husband handled the business, and reported the income on the joint return. Mr. Dill held in partnership with his wife the business.Subsequently, without the consent, permission or knowledge of Mrs. Dill, her husband sold the business to the brother-in-law and sister of Mr. Dill, and has not accounted for any of the purchase money. The business was moved to another location in Little Rock.
Mrs. Dill has not filed any return for the tax year 1969, since she thought a joint return would again be filed. However, we are unable to locate her husband, and she does not have any knowledge of the financial aspects of the business. She has no knowledge whether or not her husband, Al Dill, has filed his tax return for the year 1969, and so is in somewhat of dilemma as to her income tax filing.
Would you please advise me as to what Mrs. Dill should do, or what she needs to file, if anything, and any other pertinent information that you would deem necessary under the circumstances. Signed by my attorney.
* * * * * *
Patti's eighth grade graduation was coming up. There were two girls graduating from the little church school, and the teacher thought they should both wear white. What should I do? We were barely making ends meet. Patti was as tall as I by now, so I looked through my closet to see what might suffice. I had a lovely dress which I had made when Will and I were dating, but it was sleeveless. What difference should that make for a twelve-year-old?
So Patti graduated in a made-over dress and looked like a stunning model!
* * * * * *
Meanwhile, I had some fun times as I could. Dan was a musician, too, so we decided to form a team. We performed a little here and there, and we recorded a tape for the radio station featuring the different instruments we had in the store. The fifteen-minute segments ran several times throughout the week.
One Saturday night we went out to the Elks Club to play. Our short performance over, we danced a while. One of the Adventist brethren was there with wife and friends. He was as surprised to see me as I was him. I discovered that he was a member of the club, and often went in before sundown on Saturday, but never ordered his wine until the sun went down! I guess no one knew he drank wine, because one gets disfellowshipped for that.
I sang at the Southern Club one night. Two days later the manager came by the store and into the studio where I was teaching.
"We're having some problems at the Club. We may have to close down. I thought if you would come sing for us on a regular basis we might have a chance at staying alive."
"B-but I don't know anything about clubs!" I stammered.
"I really think you've got what it takes. You have the personality to draw and hold a crowd."
"Let me think about it," I answered. Of course, I was scared to death to try it, as much as I wanted to try. Besides, I was hanging onto the Only True Church by a thread. Kicked out of it is synonymous with being kicked out of heaven!
Mother was devastated that I would sing anywhere "worldly". Elks Club, Vapors, strip joint - all clubs were the same to her.
I didn't go to the Southern Club. It did close about three months later, and I seriously doubt that I could have prevented it.
One night I sang at the Vapors, in the smaller hall, with our friends who were playing there. Dan wanted to record me singing with a group. The next day a fellow came into the store and showed me his card. He said he was from the Merv Griffin Show and was talent-scouting. He had heard me at the Vapors last night, and would I be interested in auditioning for the Merv Griffin Show? Would I? He said he would be back around to talk to me.
Suddenly, Mr. Darnell, who had been telling me how good I was, promoting me around town, practicing with me, coaching me in popular singing - suddenly he became very negative.
"So far away - so much time involved away from the children - you don't like to be away from them - traveling is difficult" - you wouldn't have believed! That's when I began to think that he had more than just a passing interest in this ole gal.
* * * * * * *
Jerry's Corvair was a disaster from the word go! Finally, in desperation, he disposed of it in a way which expressed his anger toward his dad. He often hitch-hiked to Oklahoma to see his Margaret and back and forth between home and Arkansas Tech, where he was enrolled. Sometimes I drove him back to school, and occasionally Dan drove him. He couldn't understand why Dan would do such a thing. Once Jerry sent me an order for some guitar music. When Dan saw the ticket he looked shocked.
"What's the matter?" I demanded.
"Well, you just don't see a teenager this day and age wanting Bach, Chopin and Segovia!" That was true in the sixties and early seventies.
I was not happy that the guys in Jerry's dormitory had porno magazines in their rooms, and sat around smoking pot. I hoped and prayed, the best I knew how, that he would not get involved, but he was a man now, and had to make his own decisions. I was pleased when he told me he liked to be in charge, and wouldn't take the chance of losing control by smoking pot or using other drugs.
The owner of the store where I taught, Mr. Neal, called Dan one day and suggested that he give me more work around the store. He said Al had been by to see him, and was urging him to fire me. It was considerate of Mr. Neal to increase my hours so I could not be forced back under Al's hate and anger.
Dan had a little Ford Falcon Van sitting up in a garage, so he pulled it out and rebuilt the engine, letting me use his car to get back and forth to work.
I had thought that Al's only motive was to force me to "come crawling back" until one day I was almost killed. Or I thought so, anyway. I had stopped in at the doctor's office on Albert Pike, one of Hot Springs' busiest streets. I pulled out and started on toward work when a car slowed in front of me. When I braked not one thing happened! Fortunately the other car turned off the street, but I was near panic. Terrified, I tried to slow the car. My foot went all the way to the floor and the brakes wouldn't even pump up as 5050 pounds of lethal metal kept right on rolling down the street. There was a filling station half a block away, and a brick wall beside it which should stop me without hurting anyone else, so I aimed for it. Everything was happening so fast, but I finally remembered to drop it into low gear, and gradually it lost momentum, rolling right up to less than three feet of that brick wall! I sat for a few seconds - or was it a few hours? - willing my heart to slow down. Finally I got out as the owner of the station approached.
"What seems to be the problem, Ma'am?" I told him what had happened.
"I had just pulled out of the doctor's parking lot two blocks back. I hate to think what would have happened had I been up to my usual speed!" Or coming down one of our mountains, I thought. All kinds of possibilities, none of them good, crowded my brain.
"Tell you what, young lady," he said comfortingly, and not without a bit of curiosity, "real easy-like, pull'er right up in here. I'll block your stop, and let's have a look at those brakes." He looked around under the hood for a bit, then lifted it on the rack.
"Look," he said. I didn't know what I was looking at, but I could see that the hydraulic lines to the brakes were cut, or seemed to be.
"I'm not sure they were cut, but they aren't old enough to have worn out. It looks like they have been twisted really hard at this end to cause them to break."
Were they now? If so, was it for me, or for Dan? Dan couldn't fathom anyone mean enough to do such a thing, but I was becoming a believer! Once, the last time Al had come over to the store, he had mentioned the little refrigerator we had in back, even said something about the buttermilk kept there. That night I got terribly sick, with violent stomach cramps. Next day I found out that Dan had been sick, too. The only common factor was the buttermilk.
So Dan informed Mr. Neal that there were some strange things going on, and that we had reason to suspect it was Al. The next time Al was in the main store to hassle him about firing me, Mr. Neal started a conversation about Dan. He told Al that Dan did his own re-loading, had won some awards for being a crack shot, and that he had been in the Marine Raiders in the war. It must have worked. I never heard from him again except a tacky 40th birthday card a year or so later.
Al had completely queered the house deal for Laurie and Joyce before skipping the country, knowing that the Federal National Mortgage Association would hassle me about paying it off. There were $11,000 more in debts being sought from me. He had mortgaged all my household goods once, early on in the marriage, with my permission and signature. He had mortgaged them twice more, without my knowledge and with faked signatures.
Dear Mr. Kidd:
Enclosed find a copy of the Separate Answer of Pat P. Dill which we have filed.
In order that you will know a little background on this case as concerns Mrs. Dill, I will give you this added information. I represent Mrs. Dill in a Divorce suit brought against her former husband, Albert J. Dill. After suit had been filed, service obtained, and an answer filed for Mr. Dill, he disappeared. His attorney withdrew and after almost six months, a Divorce Decree was obtained on September 30, 1970.
Mr. Dill was ordered to pay all debts incurred during the marriage, which, of course, includes the note which is the subject matter of this present suit. Mr. Dill is in contempt of Court on numerous grounds associated with the first hearing in the divorce, that he in no way has complied with.
We have spent an enormous amount of time trying to locate Mr. Dill while the divorce was pending so the divorce could be finalized. However, he could not be found, and we have no information as to his present whereabouts. A Body Attachment for a contempt of Court has been issued in Garland County and in Pulaski County, but it has met with no success thus far.
Incidentally, we would very much be interested in any information which you may have concerning his whereabouts, and if you had been able to serve him with the papers of this present lawsuit.
Needless to say, Mr. Dill has left my client high and dry, and the whole affair has seriously and drastically affected her financial condition. She has been almost destitute and receiving help from relatives to keep going.
She would be willing to sign and execute a Deed to her interest in the property or any other papers which you deem appropriate, if she is released from any Judgment. This should make easier your disposition of the matter and a Judgment against her would mean nothing.
Signed by my attorney.
A Separate Answer was enclosed, in which they were given this information:
A sale of the property was arranged whereby the payments would have been met, but the Plaintiff arbitrarily refused to allow the sale, thus causing the defendant to lose her equity. If the sale had not been stopped by Plaintiff, no payments would have been in default.
Dial finance in Omaha, Nebraska, was one of the loans Al had made without my knowledge. Whether he signed my name on the paper, or had someone do it for him, it wasn't my signature. They threatened me. My attorney finally sent a copy of my driver's license with my signature on it for their comparison:
"Your desire to be paid the money borrowed from you by Mr. Al Dill is certainly to be understood, but it is difficult to understand your ethical position in writing my client after I had written you and you were informed that I represent her. This in my opinion, under the Court interpretation constitutes an harassment of my client, who in this instance happens not to be liable or responsible to you in any way in connection with the debt owed to you by her husband. She did not apply for the loan, she did not endorse the check, she received none of the funds. Further, her former husband has abandoned her and owes her support money and if we could get our hands on him locally, he would probably be jailed for contempt of court for failing to follow the local Court's orders.
"In addition, he caused her to lose her furniture [all my appliances we were buying from Sears had been repossessed], her car, and end up saddled with a number of debts for which she was jointly responsible with him. She has no assets or property now, and is in effect judgment proof, but aside from that, she certainly is not responsible for Mr. Dill's loan with your Company.
"This is to advise you that Mrs. Dill will not make any kind of payment to you on the indebtedness due your Company by Mr. Dill. If you are foolish enough to bring suit against her, then that is your business and your choice, and we will meet that in court in proper fashion to protect her rights and interest.
"You are directed not to harass her or to contact her further. If you desire any further information or you wish to make any further contacts concerning this, please direct them to me as her attorney."
He was great, my attorney. He really did his best for me. He suspected that Al may have had another family stashed away somewhere, since I didn't always know his whereabouts, and because of the amount of money that went through his hands to somewhere. I rather doubt it, but certainly something strange went on in that marriage.
* * * * * *
Christmas went by with just the usual decorations, good food, and music. On New Year's Day Laurie called and said Joyce had been admitted into the obstetrics wing of the hospital in Little Rock. I left the girls with a friend, and took out for the hospital, grabbing a library book on the way out. Later that afternoon the nurse brought out a big nine pound, eight ounce boy - my first grandchild! It was quite a feeling. I denied to everyone that I was excited, but I'll never know what happened to that library book. It was never found, and I had to pay for it!
A week later Laurie and Joyce brought the baby to see us, and I couldn't hold back a flood of emotion as I held Ashton, my first, my beautiful, grandson.
* * * * * *
Forty dollars a week, the child support and a few students was not enough "living" for us. I began to do some substitutions for the organists around town, advertised for more students, and things began to pick up.
Everyone seemed to find Dan's store a little like the old country store where the guys sat and whittled and spat. Only they didn't whittle and spit; they talked music, smoked and played around with the instruments. Dan could tune a guitar better than most anyone, and a lot of the guys brought their instruments in for him to tune, straighten the neck, replace strings, etc.
One day one of the guys heard me talking about wanting a better place for the girls and me to live.
"Hey!" he said, "My brother and I own a vacation house out on the lake. It's just sitting empty. We'd like to have someone in it."
"Really? Where is it located?"
"Out 270 West. Wanna look at it?" I grabbed my coat and was on the way out the door before he realized I meant business!
It was a little place, the size of the double garage which was the first level. Steep pull-down stairs led to the upper story, into the living-dining area. There was a tiny kitchen and a tiny bedroom and small bath with the smallest tub you've ever seen, but everything was as neat as a pin. The lot was big and mostly wooded, with a trickle of a creek running through the back yard.
"I'll take it!" I exclaimed. So for $75.00 a month we had a place which, though not totally convenient, was cute and modern, and the girls no longer had to be embarrassed to invite friends out.
There was a big stone fireplace in one of the garages, which were separated by a wall. I had some burlap curtains which I had used on the big screen porch on the lake, so I took them apart and stapled burlap all around the unfinished walls, put a rug on the floor, and put my bed in there, plus the piano, the stereo and the little back-and-white TV. Not bad, for a garage. The girls could have the upstairs bedroom. It was fun sitting around the fireplace on a winter's night. When Dan came over, he would sit on the raised stone hearth so his cigarette smoke would go up the chimney. I appreciated the thoughtfulness - or maybe he was just looking out for his addiction. No one smokes in my house! Sly guy!
* * * * * *
"I filed for my divorce today," Dan told me one day in April of seventy-one. My heart skipped a beat. I liked this man more than any man I had ever known. We had so much in common, especially the music. And he could appreciated the beauty of a tiny flower or a soaring eagle. Being a man, to him, did not mean walking all over other people's feelings to prove his manhood, put others down, yell and bark at everyone. Right or wrong, church or not, I knew I was in love with him. I would have to wait to express it, but at thirty-nine years old, the mother of four, and a grandmother, I was finally in love!
As warmer weather came, I began to feel claustrophobic in the garage downstairs. One morning I surveyed the situation. There were several good-sized pieces of two-by-four, some nylon screening, and an aluminum screen door stored in the other garage. I did a little figuring, got out the tools and nails I had, and got busy after the girls were off to school. By evening I had framed in the garage opening (after raising the door all the way), hung the screen door to one side, and stapled the nylon screening in all the other area. Rusty-red paint dressed it up so that it looked good from the road. Now the entire end of my garage/room was open! I took more of the burlap and made drapes, and I really liked my little house! Dan was out that evening and wouldn't believe I had done all of that myself - and in one day.
* * * * * *
Jerry and Margaret announced that they had decided to marry in June. Margaret was busy with wedding plans and addressing envelopes in Oklahoma. Jerry came home to get my signature on a waiver for him, as he was under twenty-one, which he would send to Margaret so she could apply for the Oklahoma license.
Dan had announced to me that we would be marrying soon, and I would need to get a blood test. So Jerry and I decided to go to the clinic together for the tests.
"We need to get blood tests," I informed the receptionist. She looked from me to Jerry, incredulity spreading over her countenance.
"Oh!" I explained, "He's my son!" Her face went from incredulity to shock.
"We're both getting married," I said, but somewhere along the way I had lost her, obviously. She called the nurse.
"They want blood tests," she said weakly.
"What kind of blood tests?" The nurse was looking us over.
"We're getting married," I told her. Her eyebrows shot up like twin automatic umbrellas.
"No,no! He's my son. He's getting married next week, and I'm getting married sometime this month." We got our blood tests, and laughed the rest of the afternoon. I'm not sure they ever figured it all out!
Jerry and Margaret said they would like me to make their wedding cake. I think Margaret was a bit uneasy about it right up until the time I actually set it up for the reception, as she had never seen any of my cakes, but Jerry had convinced her to ask me to do it.
So I started baking. Patti helped me, and we planned and baked layers for a large, four-tiered beauty. The bottom tier would actually be four separate two-layer cakes, and the next would be a fourteen-inch cake on a pedestal standing between the four separate cakes. I would seat a ten-inch cake on that, and top that with four white swans supporting five-inch columns on which a six-inch cake would rest. The traditional bride and groom standing in front of tall cathedral windows would complete the upward tapering of the entire creation. Baking finished, I properly wrapped and froze the cakes, and prepared for the trip.
Laurie and Joyce and that precious grandson wanted to go with the girls and me. Dan said we could go in his car and he would drive us. With that many, the big car would be more comfortable. The wedding was set for 2:00 on Sunday afternoon.
We left for Oklahoma City early Saturday morning, and arrived about four that afternoon. Since we couldn't begin decorating the cake until after sundown, we tried to rest a little in the house of Margaret's out-of-town friends which they had graciously lent for the purpose. As soon as the Sabbath was over, we unpacked the mixer and started making frosting. My long-suffering daughter-in-law, Joyce, and Patti, mixed and colored, mixed and colored, and spread frosting between and on cakes. Dan went out and bought more margarine and powdered sugar. Patti finally had to go to bed, but dear Joyce stayed by me. We finished a little after two a.m., and collapsed on the couch and floor to get some rest before the lively grandson got us up.
Meanwhile, Jerry and Margaret were about to go crazy. The minister had discovered that the license had been obtained in a county other than the one where the church was located, and in Oklahoma the license had to be bought and recorded in the county where the marriage was to take place! After a lot of panic and stress, the preacher, bride, and groom with Laurie as witness drove to the county line, where in shorts, with thongs on their feet, Jerry and Margaret were married, beside the county roadsign at nearly midnight!
"That's not the real thing, you guys," the preacher admonished as they parted for the night. "The real thing is tomorrow!"
About 10:30 next morning Dan and I, with fear and trembling, loaded up the cake and headed across town to the church. I was afraid he couldn't drive delicately enough to keep from running one or more of the cakes - which covered the entire back seat and floor - into each other and smearing them. I held the largest one in my lap. At last we got there, and I heaved a sigh of relief when we had them all inside. I set the stacked fourteen and ten - inch cake on the cake plate, which was its pedestal, centered the plate with swans and columns on it, then added the six-inch layer, topped with the petite bride and groom. The four individual cakes were slipped partially under the pedestal, which gave a big bottom-layer effect. All were frosted in off-white with pink trim. Wilton bells and frills completed the look. I centered four of the satin bells like the ones I had used at Laurie's and Joyce's wedding inside the swan pedestals and between the single cakes at the bottom. It was elegant. I watched Margaret's face as she saw it, and knew that she was relieved and, I hoped, pleased.
The wedding was lovely, with the sister of the bride and Jerry's two sisters in varying shades of lavender and purple. Margaret looked like an angel in a floor-length A-line gown with re-embroidered lace down the front panel, on the sheer sleeves, and at the neckline. A removable train, fingertip veil and trailing bouquet of white roses made up her attire.
My handsome eldest son stood up with his brother. I cried all the way through the wedding. Another handsome son and beautiful bride. Jerry had been through a lot with me. I knew it was the end of an era. My sons had moved on to what I hoped would be successful lives.
* * * * * *
After the wedding we went back to the borrowed house and packed up, straightened up, loaded up and headed for Arkansas. We were all tired, Joyce and I most of all. Scarcely had we left the Oklahoma City area when I began to have pain in my right hip. Too much travel, sitting and stress, and too little rest, I guess. And standing over the cake. It was a horrible five hours. Dan was familiar with a slipped sacroiliac since he had experienced it himself. He pulled over at rest areas where he would try to move it back in place, to no avail, as the muscle spasms forming around the area were holding like concrete. The pain increased until I could hardly stand it. All the way down my leg there was a deep aching and a sharp pain on moving. We made it into Ft. Smith by nearly eleven o'clock. Dan said,
"I'm going to find you some help." He pulled up to a telephone booth, and turned to "Chiropractors" in the Yellow Pages. Dropping his dime in the slot, he dialed the number he had chosen. The phone rang and rang, and finally he gave up. But just as he hung the phone from his ear, he heard a "click", and, he thought, an answer. Quickly finding another dime in his pocket (which couldn't have been easy as his pockets have always been suitcases for every kind of bolt, nut, screw, washer, rubber band, in addition to nail clippers, miniature file, money, and other essentials!), he re-dialed the number.
Lo, and behold, at eleven o'clock Sunday night, the doctor had been working on his books at his office. Later we discovered he was the president of the Arkansas Chiropractic Association! Dan couldn't have chosen better.
"Come right over," he said, and gave directions. Laurie and Dan practically carried me into the building where they helped Doctor L. place me face-down onto the table. The doctor pulled a huge vibrating pad from overhead and lowered it gently onto my back, turned it on, and stepped back to converse with the men while the muscles in my lower back began to relax. Then he simply pushed the offending bone back into place!
"It's going to be a few days before all the soreness is gone," he instructed. "Try to be careful, and stop and walk a little along the way home." He turned to Dan. "Can you stop and maybe eat right away so she can sit on a hard seat for a while before you drive on?"
Everyone agreed that food would be welcome, so after we ate at a little outdoor restaurant we headed on home. It wasn't easy for any of us, but we finally got home and everyone fell wherever, and slept!
* * * * * *
On June the eighteenth I was at home, working in the kitchen. When the phone rang I answered.
"Find a Justice of the Peace, and set up an appointment with him for this evening."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure I'm sure."
"Well, you'd better take a look out the front door of the store."
"I'm looking. What am I looking for?"
"See all those women out there? Sure you don't want to play the field a while before you jump into this?"
"Well, I figured the percentages of my checking them all out, and decided there was no way I could get around to all of them in one lifetime, so I guess I'll just string along with you," he teased.
Patti and a friend stood up with us. The drab courthouse office was as gorgeous as any cathedral when I saw the look in Dan's eyes as he placed the ring on my finger. Later he said I could take it off for church, but he wanted me to wear it the rest of the time. And I wanted to!
We left for the lake for a honeymoon on the celebrated Lake Ouachita - sans tent, utensils, and much of anything but Dan's old boat and some Visqueen in event of an Arkansas Special. For better or for worse.
* * * * * *
Mother was devastated. She did not believe, as I do, that no one breaks up a strong marriage. In her book I had "stolen" another woman's husband. The church didn't know what to do with me. Our pastor at the time knew Bryan well, and his wife had been my personal friend some years before. He had no respect for Bryan at all. The only thing to do was to get Dan baptized. The Conference President came up to hold some meetings and he and the pastor went by to visit Dan at the store daily during the revival. He acceded to most of the doctrines. But he smoked. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church one must change before he comes to Jesus, rather than permitting Jesus to change the man after he comes to Him. So the pastors told Dan he would have to quit smoking, and he said he would. The baptism was planned. With the consent of the Conference President, our local pastor decided to have a private ceremony, rather than at the eleven o'clock service. He asked if I would like to be baptized with Dan, as a kind of fresh start, and I thought that it would be good to wash away all my past. Adventists do a lot of re-baptizing. It's the best way to stop a lot of the criticizing that goes on. At least, after the little ladies (or the gentlemen) have repeated the gossip, they will add:
"But she's been re-baptized, you know!" After which, someone will usually express a doubt that the minister should have done it, and on, and on.
Dan's cousin, a "pillar of the church", was there, rejoicing that Dan had at last come "into the truth".
We settled down into marital bliss, which, in spite of two children still at home, their friends in and out, and all the other things that happen in families, financially and otherwise, it truly was blissful. I loved Danny with all my heart. My first real husband - after all those years.
* * * * * *
Bryan managed to get his name in the Church papers often enough to keep the local church stirred up against me. When they wanted quality music, they called me in. Then every time Bryan's name was in the paper, two or three people - always the same ones - would say I wasn't "fit" to work in the church.
The nominating committee elected me pianist for the church service. All went well until one week there was an article about Bryan winning his usual "precious souls" in the Union periodical. That Sabbath I arrived at church on time, but the song service was already started. The first Elder's wife was sweetly caressing the piano keys, and the singing was non-enthusiastic. After church I approached the Elder to explain that someone's watch must have been off, as I was on time that morning. He looked at me - an unreadable look, but one I will never forget.
"Pat, why don't you just learn to be a little mouse in the corner?"
I was speechless. As he walked away I tried to figure it out. I was the duly elected pianist. Why was I replaced without due process?
At Christmas time the Pastor asked me to perform a solo, so I arranged a magnificent medley of "Silent Night", "O Come All Ye Faithful", and "The Holy City". When I sat back down beside Danny, his eyes were wet. He couldn't always say what he thought, but I knew. Finally someone really cared, really understood what I tried to do and the effort I put into my work, and appreciated me! It was a good feeling. I would learn to do the things I do for him, not the others. What does it say about casting your pearls?
Laurie and Joyce presented me with my first granddaughter in July of 1972. Early on little Nicci reminded me of my baby pictures. It's so much fun to watch the grandchildren as they come along, and see their little nuances and habits replay those of their uncles, aunties, and other ancestry. Six of my grandchildren came in the seventies. Each one of the children had first a son, and then a daughter. Nice arrangement if one can do it, and they all did! Then later, Tammi had a wonderful surprise, and gave us a beautiful little grandson.
That decade saw us hauling our organ out to the Conference camp on Lake Ouachita (for free) for this or that congress or convention. Often I would play for them. For this we always received a letter of appreciation.
One year a super-fanatical preacher was conducting lectures at the camp. He said flat out that fat people wouldn't make it to heaven! Hogwash! In the first place, I seriously doubt that one could eat enough to be as heavy as some folks get. I have absolutely seen skinny people eat the same quantities. I've learned from personal experience that there are many factors that mess up the way our bodies react to food, and overweight is just one of the health problems God will heal when He takes us home.
The Seventh-day Adventists who make such statements completely disregard the fact that their "pope-ess" was a pretty hefty lady herself as she matured. Have you ever noticed that Harry Anderson's pictures of Mrs. White show her with a wasp waist, beautiful face, skin and hair? Compare with her actual photographs and see the deception! She grew larger year by year, as most of us do, and her hair and face were anything but pretty. I felt sorry for the overweight folk in the congregation. A good way, I thought, to drive them to another church, if not away from God entirely.
One day, while tuning the piano for the camp, Dan's attention was caught by one of the congress helpers as he walked over to a van, furtively looked around before opening the door. Now fascinated, Dan continued watching as the man reached under the seat, drew out a bottle and took a big swig, then put the bottle back under the seat. Well, at least Dan knew he was not the only one in the church with a habit!
Another thing we learned at one of the conferences was that one of the "Powers That Be" of the denomination had worked in a Billy Graham Crusade shortly before, and had decided that Mr. Graham and Cliff Barrows would probably never "accept the truth" (the Sabbath), but hopes were high that George Beverly Shea would! One colporteur told how he went in to Billy Graham's property, despite the "keep out" sign (according to him), and found Mrs. Graham at the poolside. He said he sold her a wonderful Ellen G. White book, so was hopeful that she would "accept the truth" and influence her husband.
In 1973 I spent nine days in the hospital with my back. Those two cracked vertebrae, the result of that fateful night in New York City, were causing a lot of muscle spasms which were moving further and further down my back. Doctor Durham had tried a number of medications to try to relax the muscles, but my reaction to them was so wild that even he was scared. With the Librium I hemorrhaged under the skin over my entire body, and not only did it look awful, it itched! So he gave me something for the itching, and that put a red rash on top of the purple hemorrhaging! They say you can't win'em all, but seems I could win one once in a while!
Traction had not helped, so the doctor ordered a body brace. At first I was embarrassed by it, but it has helped prevent and relieve a lot of pain without drugs.
* * * * * *
That was the year that women won the "right" to kill their unborn babies, the most alien, unthinkable act I can think of. They call them "fetuses" now, to make it seem less evil. Personally, I never had a "fetus". though it simply is Latin for "unborn". From the time I knew I was pregnant, I had a BABY! I could probably kill someone who tried to harm my babies, I'm sure. But kill my babies? Never on God's green earth.
* * * * * *
Our church had a new pastor who was highly emotional. He cried a lot in the pulpit, sometimes falling on his knees before the congregation and breaking into tearful prayer. The nominating committee had elected me to teach the young people. Well, the "perfect" members of the congregation thought I should not be allowed to stand in front of the kids, so the weak and embarrassed Pastor W. came out to talk to me, and I agreed to refuse the nomination to help him out. (Thank You, Lord Jesus, for spending some quality time with that woman who had been married five times. What a comfort to a lot of us unfortunates! And it is interesting to note that she might have been the greatest evangelist up until the time of Pentecost - she brought her entire town to Jesus!)
* * * * * *
Life rocked on - teaching, trying to be the perfect wife and mother, which meant a clean house, cooking without sugar and meat, raising my own food as much as possible - canning and freezing fruit and veggies - and functioning in the church when asked. I still felt that doing for the church was doing for God.
Baby-sitting my two grandchildren was a joy. Jerry and Margaret had a beautiful son in December. He came breach before the doctor could get to the hospital, so Jerry and the nurse helped Margaret with the difficult delivery. She was a real trooper.
They were 'way down in Corpus Cristi, but the old Missouri Pacific Eagle was still running as far as San Antonio, so I took a long ride down to see my newest baby. He had his first attack of asthma while I was there, and I lay on the bed with him as the vaporizer made his breathing easier and took all the curl out of my hair. All the way home I would wake up, thinking I heard Scott's little grunts and coos. It's so hard to leave a grandbaby far away!
* * * * * *
In the late seventies I was asked to do a series of lectures on the sanctuary of the Old Testament. Laurie helped me produce some good visual aids on slides, to be thrown on the screen as I talked. Most of the members received them well. (After all, I used the "Spirit of Prophecy", the final word, as a help, didn't I?) It is interesting to discover that everything in the tabernacle service pointed to the coming Messiah. The candlesticks - the Light of the world; the bread - the Bread of life; the laver for washing - the Water of life; the lamb - the Lamb of God; the blood - the blood of Jesus which was shed for our salvation. Even as I studied to present it, I didn't fully comprehend what a wealth of food-for-thought is in the sanctuary, its furniture, ceremonies, and architecture.
I had been having pain in my hands, at the base of my thumb joints. I called Doctor Durham one Friday, and he said he was leaving on vacation the first of the week, but I could meet him at the hospital early Saturday morning. I went. After he examined my hands, he told me bluntly that my thumb joints were about gone.
"Does that mean I'll not be able to play?"
"Yes, I'm afraid it does," he bluntly answered.
"What can be done? Is there a surgical procedure that will correct it?"
"There's nothing at all successful. I'll order you some splints which will help with the pain."
I couldn't tell Dan and Tammi, who were waiting in the lobby for me. I couldn't even talk. I cried all the way to church, washed my face and went on in to give my "Sanctuary Talk". There are still differing opinions about what caused my hands to self-destruct. As many, in fact, as the doctors I've seen. The fact is, the joints are "shattered", and my playing is limited to a few minutes at a time.Learning to accept the changes that come along seems to be what life on this earth is all about - always adjusting.
* * * * * *
When you study the Sanctuary from an Adventist standpoint, you must combine it with the great 2300 day time prophecy of Daniel eight, which has been figured to end in the AD 1844 time frame. The book, Seventh day Adventists Believe,1 published in 1988 and sent by the thousands to ministers and others in an attempt to spread the SDA gospel, explains from their standpoint how they came to believe that Jesus entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary in the year 1844. Dr. Walter Martin's book, Kingdom of the Cults, found in any Bible bookstore, analyzes the "Investigative Judgment" - totally unscriptural - as well as other tenets of the Adventists. A Rabbi was heard to say that the Adventists "out-Jew the Jews" when it comes to the Tabernacle services!
The sanctuary of Moses' time had two compartments. The Levitical priests had specific functions in each compartment. However, while in the first compartment, or room, was performed daily ceremonies, only the High Priest was to enter the second, or Holy of Holies, and that only once each year. His role was to make atonement for the congregation. Two goats were chosen, one to be sacrificed and its blood sprinkled before the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16), and the other to symbolically carry all the accumulated sins to a solitary place in the wilderness where it was left to perish alone. "...the sin-offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat typified Satan, the author of sin, upon whom the sins of the truly penitent will finally be placed," future tense, notice.2 These are the doctrines which I espoused and taught before I learned that I could study, research and think for myself, rather than accepting all the denominational tenets like I was some kind of robot to be programmed.
Leviticus 16:5 actually states, "take two male goats for a sin offering." Ellen White makes the first goat only, the sacrificed one, to be the sin offering. The sacrificed goat pictured the fact that Jesus was to shed His blood to redeem us from our sin, and the goat left in the wilderness showed that our sins have already been placed on Jesus; that by His atoning work Jesus has carried our sins far from us - we are forgiven! I didn't realize that I, along with the church, had been transferring a work of Christ to the Devil!
Somehow by using the year 457 as a starting date, William Miller came up with a closing date for the "2300 day/year prophecy", at which time, he warned, the sanctuary - this world - would be cleansed. That is, the world would end: Jesus would return. March 21, 1843 was the first date. Then March 21, 1844; and finally October 22, 1844.
Completely disregarding that statement of Jesus that no one knows the day or the hour of His coming, Miller and his associates spread the warning of the second coming far and wide. Guess what! Jesus didn't come! Even Miller was convinced that he had made a mistake. Many of his embarrassed followers returned to the routines of their lives, breaking away from the others. The little group remaining, however, could not take the shock to their egos, and set about to find a face-saving cover for their disappointment.
One of the believers, a farmer named Hiram Edson, had a "vision" out in his corn field shortly thereafter which gave them what they needed. He said he was shown that the prophecy was correct, but the "sanctuary" to be cleansed was in heaven, not on earth! Thus ignorance - of Scripture, of the writings of the Church fathers, and of the great reformers - gave birth to a "cunningly devised fable", the doctrine of the "Investigative Judgment".
Disregarding the many times the book of Hebrews states that Jesus "once for all" offered Himself for the sins of His people, then "sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven," they enlarged on that devastating doctrine which removes any security to which the believer is entitled through belief in the substitutionary act of Jesus on the cross. It teaches that Jesus went, upon His ascension, into the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary "to plead His blood in behalf of penitent believers,"3 that is, to go over all the books of record to see who was "ready" to be saved.
"The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement."4
The Bible teaches, and theologians have always believed, that Jesus' work was finished at the cross. However, I had believed that when Jesus cried It is finished!, "this was to show that the services of the earthly sanctuary were forever finished... The blood of Jesus was then shed, which was to be offered by Himself in the heavenly sanctuary."5 "It is this coming, [into the most holy place] and not His second advent to the earth, that was foretold in prophecy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844. Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man - to perform the work of investigative judgment, and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits."6 (Emphasis mine.)
Ellen White uses the phrases, "final atonement", "final intercession" many times. The poor Seventh-day Adventist does not know that Jesus' atonement on the cross was "complete, consummated, accomplished, paid" - in full!7
So we never knew any sense of security of salvation. He is up there now, we thought, going over the books, checking out the names of every individual who had ever lived. We never knew when He would come to our name and the die would be cast for us, forever! Furthermore, we never knew when He would be finished (once again) and leave the heavenly sanctuary, at which time we would have to stand alone, without a mediator! until Christ should come to earth. That is why it was so necessary for us to become perfect. How could we stand alone if we had not become perfected?
* * * * * *
Which brings us to their belief in the sinful nature of Jesus. Because Jesus, to the Adventist, was more "example" in His life on earth than substitute, they teach that we, too, may overcome exactly as He did, and become pure, as He was. This is very similar to some of the New Age teachings that we are gods, or growing more god-like all the time, through our own efforts. Some preachers are even taking up that theme. The Devil told Eve at the beginning that we would be as god, and evolution teaches that man is getting better and better. On, how we do want to be the masters of our fates, the captains of our souls! Mrs. White says:
"Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life."
"...into the world where Satan claimed dominion God permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of humanity. He permitted Him to meet life's peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss.8"
So was Jesus human? Could He have failed? Was He only an example of a perfection to which I may attain? Or was He God? I had learned that I need a God to save me. Men have been trying to save me, one way or another, for years, and the results were that I was worse off than before. I need God, and so do you! Believe me!
I had always had a problem with the perfection thing. In the first place, a truer translation of Matthew 5:48 would be, Be mature. Grow up. Don't continue in spiritual childishness. For nearly a century and a half Adventists have been trying to become perfected, but I've never seen a finished product yet. I had worried about those who had died before reaching perfection. What about them?
Sister White had said, "Not even by a thought did [Jesus] yield to temptation. So it may be with us."9 Looking down the list in the Index to the writings of E.G. White, you will discover that God expects and requires Christ's perfection from His people; it is possible to attain it in this life; one will not reach perfection without controlling appetite; a vacillating person will not attain perfection; the human nature of Christ was brought to perfection; God's people are to attain to nothing short of perfection, and the condition required for eternal life is perfect righteousness, perfect obedience to God's law! I may as well give up right now!
As I listened one night to Dan explaining the newest computers to a grandson, I thought: If man can build a computer which can accept or release five billion bits of information per second, how ludicrous to think that my God, the Source of that knowledge with which man built the computer, should need nearly 150 years to "go over the books" of each person who had lived on earth in an "Investigative Judgement".
Then one day I was reading my favorite book of John when an amazing statement jumped at me from the fifth chapter. Jesus said, and He prefaced it with Verily, verily, which always means something heavy's coming up - I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation. Check your Strong's Concordance and you will see that "condemnation" and "judgment" are synonymous. Paul, in Romans eight, tells me that there is now no condemnation, no judgment!
You mean that I, twice divorced, can avoid that Investigative Judgment? I had to decide whose word to take, Sister White's, or Jesus' and Paul's. As for working and working to achieve perfection, God made Jesus, who had no sin, to be sin in our place, so that we might become the righteousness of God! He was my Substitute, Who did for me that which I could never have done for myself!
But I had a way to go before I really grasped it.
* * * * * *
The "Shut-Door" Theory of Ellen White and her co-horts was, and still is, a real embarrassment to the denomination. After the disappointment, still so sure that Jesus was due to arrive at any moment, the group of adventists, who in fact were called "shut-door believers" for a time, taught, on the basis of an early "vision" of Ellen White, that the door of salvation had been closed to all but the "little flock"; that when Jesus entered the most holy place (according to the "new" theology), He went in to intercede only for those in the little community of adventists! As time continued on, James White and others in leadership began to back-pedal! There is abundant material on this humiliating episode if the reader should want to research it. For me, it suffices to say: The God I worship doesn't make mistakes. This is just one of the many fallacies of adventism. (See R. D. Brinsmead, "Judged By the Gospel", Verdict Publications).
* * * * * *
Patti had married a tall, handsome, blond German boy. My daddy would have called him a "long, tall, slim, slick, sycamore sapling"! They had a pretty little home wedding with family present. Tammi and Steve's brother stood up with them. Patti was about to begin her senior year at Henderson State University, setting the curve in all her classes as she worked toward her bachelor of Music Education.
In the middle of the year they discovered she was pregnant. One day she came by to show me some weird spots coming up on her legs. Reddish purple, swollen, and with a burning pain, I recognized it immediately. I called a highly recommended internist for an appointment. The nurse didn't know what I was talking about when I told her that my daughter had erythma nodosum. She thought I wanted a prescription for Erythromycin! Finally I convinced her that my daughter should see the doctor today and she got Patti in.
After a long and interesting conversation the doctor said he thought she had systemic lupus erythematosis and was pretty sure her mother did, too! I had not gone with her, so the doctor called me and asked had I ever heard of lupus? I was picturing the word as loopus, and was totally confused.
"No, I haven't."
"I believe you and your daughter both have it, and I would like to see you."
I made an appointment. Patti's tests showed positive, as the disease was active. Mine was negative at the time.
I immediately collected all the material I could find on the subject, and discovered that it could be serious, even deadly. Reading how it starts, what the symptoms are, I discovered that I really was not a hypochondriac! Also, I began to understand what I could do to lessen the pain. There isn't much to be done about the draining fatigue other than learn to live with it and work around it.
I joined a lupus organization which aims at natural treatment for the disease and all the associated allergies and rashes, and started learning to live with it. One adjusts. Sometimes the hardest part, psychologically speaking, is the onlooker who says, "Well, you look fine to me!" Or, like Bryan used to say, "So, you hurt. Everybody hurts." You learn to keep quiet about it. I learned by hard experience not to judge by a person's looks. In fact, not to judge at all. I doubt there are very many "all in your head" illnesses, but isn't it convenient for a doctor to be able to cover his inability or ignorance by telling a woman there's nothing wrong with her? (And have you ever noticed it's always a woman he picks on? The male doctor listens to and believes his male patient!)
* * * * * *
I had been having a lot of trouble with my voice. My throat was always husky, and the pollen, dust, trees and other allergies kept me stopped up and hoarse, not to mention what all the drugs which I took for all those problems were doing to my vocal cords! Dan had been wanting me to go to a friend of his who was not only an excellent instructor, he was a therapist who, with co-operation from the student, can rebuild a voice. Dr. Arno Tourel was a graduate of St. Cecelia's Conservatory of Music in Rome, Italy, and had done an intensive study of vocal reconstruction when his own voice had been restored after the stress of years of singing in opera around the world.
My ear, nose and throat doctor "encouraged" me as bluntly as had my hand doctor.
"Forget it, Pat. You'll never sing again." Brother! That got me over to Dr. Tourel. His colleagues said, after sitting in on part of my first session, "You're not going to take her on, are you?" But for his friendship with my husband, he did. The two of them had worked together on a lot of projects, usually Dan recording concerts for Dr. Tourel, and he had been a listening post for Dan during some of the rough places of his life before I knew him.
The exercises were horrible sounding and embarrassing, but gradually the vocal cords strengthened and straightened. In less than a year Dr. Tourel was urging me toward opera.
"You are one of the few true contraltos, Pat." Wow! That was encouraging.
"You should learn some of the roles. The contralto always has a real `character' part."
So I began to study the roles of "Azucena" in Il Trovatore, and "Madame Flora" in The Medium. I knew nothing of the music of opera. Sister White had said that "Satan employs the opera to break down the barriers of principle and open doors to sensual indulgence,"10 and since "the angels are not pleased with operatic singing,"11 I had never learned the great music of opera. I hadn't yet the courage to question Sister White, as I still thought every word she spoke or wrote came from God.
One Sabbath we had the folks from the Sharon church Hot Springs over for a pot-luck fellowship meal at our home. Pastor Kibble, a musician himself, saw my Il Trovatore score lying on the piano.
"Are you studying this?"
"To perform? Like costumes and everything?"
"Uh-h-h, well, my vocal coach wants me to. B-but I know that Sister White condemns opera," I stuttered.
"Pat, don't you think God could use some Christians in opera?"
"Well, I guess so."
"Then go for it, girl!" That was just what I needed! I began studying seriously, and for a while even hoped for more than just a local audience.
* * * * * *
Patti had a rough time in delivery. She had been seeing one doctor, but the partner, who was on call that day, had no knowledge of Patti's lupus as her doctor had failed to put it on her chart. Her blood pressure began to rise, higher and higher, until the poor girl was approaching convulsions. The doctor rushed in, took one look at the instruments, and grabbed Patti by the shoulders,
"Patti! Patti? Listen to me. Do you have lupus?" Patti nodded her head druggedly.
He swore, and started shouting orders.
We almost lost her and that precious little Joel Lamar - we call him Jody - two of the bright lights in our lives. I thank God constantly for sparing them for us all.
Shortly after, Jerry and Margaret produced a lively daughter. And I mean lively. Jerry sent me tickets to fly down for a week to help out with her big brother Scott when Margaret came home from the hospital. Little Stephanie turned over in her bed before I left! I predicted the tiny lady would grow up to be a great dancer.
* * * * * *
I was learning the most beautiful music. When Dr. Tourel put Renata Tebaldi's "Pace, Pace", from Verdi's La Forza del Destino on the stereo, I had to pretend to play with Patti's little Jody, putting my face against him so no one in the room would see the deep emotion which overcame me at the beauty of the music and the purity of Tebaldi's voice. How Sister White could say the angels were not pleased with operatic singing I will never know . Some voices in opera are not so lovely, true, but I'm sure there must be a few angels around who would like to sing so beautifully as Tebaldi! I sing the "Pace" sometimes myself, here at home, but I am not a soprano, so I can't do it often without stressing my voice.
* * * * * *
The church I had grown up in was famous (infamous?) for going through preachers like a mower through weeds. They had been fighting since before we moved there the Christmas that I turned twelve. They had now gone through several pastors in the past four years, and then came Pastor Tracey. He had the Gospel with him! The real Gospel! It would not, of course, be accepted by everyone, but some would hear it. I don't know how he has been able to stay in that denomination after knowing the Gospel. Maybe it was the security of his job, I don't know. But I shall always be grateful to him for steering me toward justification, forgiveness, grace, righteousness by faith in Jesus.
I would hear some little nugget in his sermon, which seemed to me to go right by everyone else, then during the week I would call him about it, we would discuss it, and he would suggest something for me to read or think about. I discovered that the tremendous unifying force of the great Reformation of the fifteenth century was justification by faith alone. This is the one point on which they stood unanimously.
But what, exactly, did that mean, justification by faith? I had heard the religious cliches all my life. I even knew who Jesus was, but I didn't know Him. I had heard that phrase, "personal relationship with Jesus" for years, but I didn't have it, and I didn't know anyone who did. I thought most of the prayers that I heard in church insulted a powerful, sovereign God, One who was smart enough to make this world and all the seen and unseen, known and unknown, universe. Now all this new belief about Jesus having done everything for us - there's nothing we can do toward our salvation? Heresy?
Well, I had started out trying, trying, trying to follow all those rules. Trying to eat only whole grains, soy beans and peanuts, with my fruits and vegetables. But all my trying was never good enough. Now, after I had about trained Dan into the diet, someone decided that Sister White said that we should use oil only "as it is in the olive"!12 So the entire denomination was trying to re-learn bread-baking without oil!
The Gospel, in Ellen White-ism, leads man to obedience to the law. The merits of Christ's sacrifice means divine power to become holy. So we worked to keep the law, to become holy.
I had nearly killed myself every Friday in order to be ready for the Sabbath by sundown. I knew a lot of church members who, in winter months, were driving home from work at sundown. But that didn't make it right! No way! Sister White said everything must be ready and the family gathered for worship "before the setting of the sun".13 So no matter what anyone else did, I had to be sure I was right.
Sister White goes even farther than the Old Testament prophet Isaiah (chapter 58). Not only should we not do our own pleasures or speak our own words, we shouldn't even think our own thoughts!14 Now that's a tough one! You will hear statements every Sabbath like this:
"Remind me to tell you something after the Sabbath."
"Did you know that - oh! - that's not Sabbath talk. I'll tell you later."
"I brought you something. Put it in your purse and don't open it until after sundown." Everyone keeping the letter of the Ellen White interpretation of the law. She said we must observe the day according to both the letter and the spirit. No one in the entire history of the Church ever seems to have noticed that the Israelites were instructed (Exodus 16:29) to stay in their places on the Sabbath day. Sister White stated that if the world had always observed the Sabbath, it would have been preserved from idolatry.15 Do the Adventist idolize the Sabbath or not?
And speaking of the letter of the law: not long ago a Seventh-day Adventist couple were sentenced for the heinous crime of starving their children. Their teenage son died! The daughter, badly malnourished, was removed from them. And all the time there was almost $4000.00 in the house! But, they explained, it was tithe money, so they couldn't use it!
So the talk about how to dress, what to eat, and the gossip about me and other members of the church went on and on.
"There are three kinds of people in the world," Dan commented one evening. We were lounging on the porch listening to the Chuck Will's-Widow's sleepy call.
"One kind talks about people. One kind talks about things. The third kind talks about ideals."
I mulled it over.
"What an astute commentary," I finally said.
"Well," he grinned sheepishly, "it's not original."
"But it's good," I said. I've thought about it a lot. I think the churches (and maybe all organizations) contain mostly the first two varieties. Of course, those individuals who are concerned mostly with heavy thoughts and worthy ideals usually are not appreciated by the others, since they often aren't chasing the almighty dollar with heart, soul, strength and mind! It will be interesting to see what people God has chosen to make up His heavenly community, won't it?
* * * * * *
Nineteen seventy-nine was the year I didn't think I would finish. One of the "brethren" in the church, the one who was seen around town smoking and buying drinks for women other than his wife, got upset because I was teaching a youth class. There was a board meeting called right after church, and the brother told the others (again) that I was unfit, that I had been married six times, and a bunch of other garbage. The problem was that my little daughter, waiting for her brother, an elder, to take her home, had lain down on one of the balcony pews with a headache. She heard the ranting, and informed me as soon as she got home. Her brother verified it.
Next morning an envelope was delivered to the pastor with the resignations of myself from the piano to which I had been elected again, and the youth class, and my daughter-in-law, older daughter and son-in-law resigned from various positions in support. The pastor didn't know what was going on, and said he hadn't paid that much attention to the railings of said Brother X, as he got wound up every now and then. Be that as it may, I never did anything else for the Adventist Church.
Adding to the constant church squabbles was another trip to the hospital. After many tests the doctor said he thought I had early stage multiple myeloma. Well I knew what that was, after seeing Daddy go with it! While I was in the hospital, a "Wheel" in the church came to visit me. But not just visit. He wanted me to leave the hospital that night and go to a motel with him! He had heard that Dan and I were having some problems. Brother! When a person's down, kick'em!
True, Danny and I were having some difficulties. In addition to trying to work all that out, Tammi went to the hospital with an ulcer. The pressure of the nursing course was just too much. Then within a week's time Leo, my mother's husband, died, and Patti had her second baby, a little girl, which I think was more stressful for me than for Patti, as her first delivery was still so fresh in my mind. We had come so close to losing her, and I was fearful for this delivery. However, a different doctor took excellent care of them both, and the baby was named Cecelia, for me! She was strong and healthy and pretty. She loves dance and drama, just like her grannie!
A couple of weeks later Laurie took my two oldest grandchildren, whom I had baby-sat regularly for over eight years, and moved to California to attend a Seventh-day Adventist college, where he would study for the ministry. It seemed like the last straw. But no. The Navy sent Jerry, with his family, to Hawaii. Tammi, eager to follow in her brother's footsteps, also left to join the Navy.
I was still having a lot of physical problems, and the drugs the doctor had loaded me down with were no help. I sometimes cried late at night, thinking of the possibility that I had multiple myeloma and was going to die soon. Not only did I have to worry about when my name might come up in the Investigative Judgment,16 at which time I would be forever damned if there should be even one sin unconfessed, I now worried about being ready should I die first. "Those who accept the Savior, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or feel that they are saved."17 The terminal patient is hit with a double whammy! So I worried.
Patti and her children were still close by, and her little Jody was an adorable toddler by now with a twinkle in his eye that reminded me of his namesake - my dad. Sometimes he would have one of those horrible ear infections like my boys had suffered with. One night Patti knocked on our door in the middle of the night with my little man, needing his grannie to help him with his pain. He and I were so happy together, laughing and playing, enjoying stories, jokes and songs. I loved to make him laugh, as the sweetest music this side of Heaven is a child's hearty laugh! I took him everywhere Patti would let me, and she was never jealous of our closeness. When the other children left I started my Grannie Pat's Bedtime story tapes for them, and little Jody was my first audience.
* * * * * *
Rick Warren, one of my top students, entered the Liberace contest for the State and won! I was so excited as he played in the competition that my pulse went up and Dan reached for my wrist. He could tell. When he clocked it at 136 beats per minute he got a little concerned, but it settled down after the competition was over and the award was secure! I was really proud of Rick. He went on to the regional competition at Atlanta and he took me with him. Unfortunately, he didn't win there, but later, when I was told that the winner had already performed with the master artist in another state I quit worrying about it. I knew Rick was great, and he has been proving that fact ever since as his career has blossomed and grown. And down through the years Rick has been as a son to me, loving, caring, attentive. I love him.
* * * * * *
Dan and I decided to move closer to Little Rock, where he thought he could do better financially. Also, it would cut my 130 mile round trips for voice lessons to less than half. We found a little house in Bryant, and I advertised for students. Dan went back to work for the piano company he had been with before, and I got half a dozen students right off. Patti stayed close for a while, and I loved having her and the children near, but then she, too, got a job away from us in the southern part of the State. It was rough, but she came up often and I didn't completely starve for grandchildren. Jody had it rough, too, and carried his little cassette player everywhere he went with his grannie's story tapes playing all the time. Patti said she couldn't away from the sound of her mother's voice!
I went to a different doctor in Little Rock, recommended by one of my new students who was a nurse. He ran some more tests which proved the multiple myeloma to be no more than a bad scare, thank goodness. I learned form that experience that one should go for a second opinion immediately whenever there is a serious question.
* * * * * *
My son at Adventist College began sending me articles and tapes about a hiatus in the denomination. I read a book, The Shaking of Adventism by Geoffrey J. Paxton which had been published in 1977. The thrust of the book was that Seventh-day Adventists taught a works-righteousness very like that of the Catholics! Since we were taught from our youth up that the Catholic Church is Babylon the Great in Revelation, the most dangerous foe of Ellen White's "little Flock", the right arm of Satan, and is distinguished by the mark of the beast,18 I found Paxton's premise amazing.
I had never heard of the two being compared, and I devoured the book. Then I went through it again, checking it against the Bible. Adventists have thought themselves to be the heirs to the great Reformation, taking up where Luther, Calvin, and the other Reformers, as Adventists believe, fell short. They are convinced they are the end-time reconstructors of "the Reformation edifice" as well as restorers of the early Church framework. It is their perceived duty to "restore original features omitted by the Reformers", which includes the Saturday Sabbath and the "spirit of prophecy", that is, Ellen White; to "rebuild the parts distorted and rejected by the latter-day perverters of the Reformation positions", thereby "bringing the full structure to completion."19
Pretty awesome responsibility, right? Ellen White and other pillars of the church promoted the idea that the Reformation was to be "carried forward to the close of time by those who also are willing to suffer all things for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." And in my mind, as with everyone else in the church, the "testimony of Jesus Christ"20 was the "spirit of prophecy", and that is translated: Ellen White and her visions, writings, sayings, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!
I read with intense interest Paxton's analyses of these and other quotes. The Reformers taught justification by grace alone. The Council of Trent, on the other hand, stated that it is anathema to say that men are justified by the sole imputed Righteousness of Christ. I had been taught, similarly, that justification was for past sins only, that is, Christ's death was for sins of the past. His life on earth was for our example. As we endeavor to copy His life, we become sanctified. Just the other day I heard an Adventist minister on their satellite television network quoting Ellen White,
"Sanctify yourselves. Sanctify yourselves!" We, according to their teaching, must "get ourselves right" before the end of that Investigative Judgment, the close of Probation!
Because of the emphasis on behavior, Jesus becomes "the Pattern Man",21 as Ellen White calls Him Whom we endeavor to copy (not a bad goal, but totally without value toward our salvation), rather than the God-man who lived the perfect life as our Substitute.
Even though the Gospels are not solid on the time of the "footwashing" event, the Adventists believe that it happened at the time of the Last Supper. The washing of feet, called the "Ordinances of humility", is necessary before Communion, called The Lord's Supper" by Adventists. Having one's feet washed prepares one through "renewed cleansing", to participate in the supper. Never mind that Paul said eating and drinking "unworthily" is what leads to damnation. Not "unworthy". The Apostle Paul was using the adverb "unworthily" to modify the manner of partaking, and in reading about the Corinthians, to whom this instruction was written, I found that those people were feasting and drinking sometimes to excess before partaking of the Lord's Supper, thereby "not discerning the Lord's Body". For this we would be damned! Not for being unworthy, for nothing we can do will make us worthy! Only our faith in the unmerited favor with which we are covered by Jesus makes us worthy!
Justification - righteousness by faith in Jesus' great act in my behalf, "not of works, lest any man should boast" (and brother, wouldn't we boast!), was a new and almost indigestible thought to me! My faith plus zilch? Martin Luther, the great Reformer, is quoted selectively by the Adventists. But never had I heard or read his "Since our sins were so great that nothing could take them away except a ransom so immeasurable, shall we still claim to obtain righteousness by the strength of our own will, by the power of the law, or by the teaching of men?" I discovered that Luther so loved the "freedom" book of Galatians that he said he was "wedded" to it. I, too, have experienced that marriage! Try it, you who are in bondage to denominational do's and don't's!
* * * * * *
I was still wrestling with that when I began to hear that Sister White had plagiarized some of her writings. Impossible! The Church was saying that she only "borrowed" a few good thoughts now and again. Had she not prefaced most of her profound statements with "I was shown?" Didn't she say she did not write to express her own opinion, only what God "opened before me in vision"? God spoke through clay (herself),22 and if anyone should "lessen the confidence of God's people in the testimonies He has sent them, you are rebelling against God as certainly as were Korah, Dathan, and Abiram"!23 The Review, the church's periodical, constantly states, "heaven sent a message," or "the pen of inspiration tells us." Surely she had not copied!
More and more, the truth came out. I was more than skeptical. Had I been duped all these years? Was I stupid? I had had occasional doubts, yes; even more as I grew older, but I was so well indoctrinated that I couldn't' dis -believe.
I had heard there was a book out, Prophetess of Health, by Ronald Numbers. Patti and I went to the Little Rock Library where I had to pay $5.00 for a card I would never use again in order to borrow the book. Heavily documented, it was something else!
In the very first sentence of the Preface I had to face the unpalatable fact that "Sister White" was just another in a chain of prophets starting their own cultic following in the nineteenth century. Joseph Smith was diligently accepting brass plates from the angel Moroni, or, as he claimed in the earlier edition of the Pearl of Great Price, the angel Nephi, take your choice.
Mary Baker Eddy was busy becoming ill, "taken for dead" (which her attending physician denied under oath),24 and searching for trusting people to make Christian Science "the anchorage of their souls and its founder the infallible guide of their daily life."25
Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Russellites, which were to become known as Jehovah's Witnesses, was rushing around piling confusion upon confusion as he was starting his own organization.
In Great Britain May Campbell and Margaret Macdonald were producing "visions", as were certain women in Finland. So "Sister White" was a daughter of the times.
Since my youth I had been regaled with the stories of Ellen's childhood experiences. William Miller had been predicting the end of the world for some time, a thought which terrified Ellen. About this time she was struck on the nose with a stone, a serious injury which left her in a coma for three weeks, and chronically ill and disfigured for life. For two years she sat propped up in bed, making crowns for the hats her father manufactured. Her fear of the end of the world was magnified, as she worried about her own unworthiness.
When Miller put in a personal appearance in her home town of Portland, Maine, that heavy fear increased even more as she listened to Miller, whose sermons were graphically illustrated with canvasses depicting the terrible beasts and images of Daniel and Revelation. I was familiar with that on a first had basis. Hadn't I not only produced and painted the black-light pictures but placed them across the board for Bryan many times? During Ellen's early teen years she was assailed by depression, "a melancholy state, and finally in deep despair. In this state of mind I remained for three weeks, with not one ray of light to pierce the thick clouds of darkness around me," she wrote. The conviction settled upon her that she must pray in public. Finally, "as I prayed, the burden and agony of soul that I so long felt left me, and the blessing of God came upon me like the gentle dew...Wave after wave of glory rolled over me, until my body grew stiff. Everything was shut out from me but Jesus and glory, and I knew nothing of what was passing around me...For six months not a cloud of darkness passed over my mind."26 But she never learned to retain her peace and joy.
Ellen was baptized in 1842. She referred to the rite as taking up a "heavy cross", but as she arose from the water she had peace. That afternoon as the candidates were received into church membership there was a young woman by her side who was also being accepted into the church. When she noticed the girl's rings, earrings, bonnet with artificial flowers, bows and puffs, her "joy was dampened by this display of vanity."27
* * * * * *
I had always bought the whole ball of wax. Having discovered that she had copied from other authors even a little gave me the doubts necessary to cause me to research further. Prove all things, the Good Book says, and try the spirits; study to show yourself approved by God.28
So - I started studying. I was to learn a lot!
In the very first place, the Seventh-day Adventist Church accepted the "whole ball of wax" on Ellen's word. They still do.
The 1990 General Conference Session in Indianapolis appealed for more translations of E.G. White's writings, greater world-wide distribution, and urges the members to, without reservation, accept and follow the counsel "God had bestowed so richly", "every aspect of His instruction that we have either ignored or neglected in days gone by."29
Grown-up and supposedly intelligent, college-educated men and women persist in proclaiming the "inspiration" of this nineteenth century visionary. Some had called her a prophetess, to which she replied,
"My work includes much more than this name signifies. I regard myself as a messenger, entrusted by the Lord with messages for His people."30 "I am not to be hindered in my work by those who engage in suppositions regarding its nature...My commission embraces the work of a prophet, but it does not end there. It embraces much more ..."31 One reads constantly in her writings: "As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind..."; "I have been bidden..."; "I am now instructed..."
The entire "Seventh-day Adventist denomination is completely without credibility without a belief in her work, but they are fooling themselves, for the denomination is a playing out of her dreams, visions, rules, regulations, prejudices, and ignorance. Robert Olsen, of the Ellen G. White Estate, states, "Here are claims as broad and unequivocal as any found in the Bible,32 and then, as do most Adventists, he begins to compare her writings with those of the Bible writers.
While the Adventist will stop short of saying he considers her writings to be a part of the canon, Olsen continues: "...a recognition of the final authority of the Scriptures in matters of faith and religion does not thereby deny authority to those prophets God has used who were not Scripture writers...the existence of the sacred canon does not exclude other inspired authorities. To say that the Bible is our authority, but Ellen White is not, is a false dichotomy. We can have both..."33
Olson unabashedly admits that Ellen White's writings are not exegetical in nature.34 I looked up that word - exegete - to be sure of its meaning. Webster's Third New International reads: "to explain, to interpret: exposition, explanation; especially: critical interpretation of a text or portions of Scripture," After all those years of reading, memorizing and quoting Ellen White writings, I sat and read some of them back in my mind. It was true. Compared to the great Reformers and theologians, her writings are pap.
There were no theologians in that little band of early Adventists. Ellen herself was only seventeen and had only a third grade education. Even including the over-fifty sea captain and a farmer in his thirties, their average age was early twenties. They were of the lower social, economical and educational classes. They came from various religious backgrounds and entertained serious heresies, some with no belief in a Trinity or even the divinity of Christ! They were not schooled in the rich heritage of Reformation theology, nor did any of them know Biblical languages. They had only a King James Bible and were not well versed in it.
Recently, when I read an ad for the new "Spirit of Prophecy Study Bible", I thought, How utterly ridiculous! A Bible with Ellen White's comments all the way through the margins, as if she were the final authority! But of course, that is exactly as the average Adventist looks at her work.
I was jolted, as I continued my research into Ellen White and her church, to discover that the little group of early Adventists were what is sometimes called "holy rollers". What I had read of Ellen's opinion on the subject was that there was a "spirit of fanaticism" among a "certain class of Sabbath-keepers", which she "was shown" was "an unmeaning gibberish" called unknown tongues. "Fanaticism, false excitement, false talking in tongues, and noisy exercises have been considered gifts which God has placed in the church...Satan has pushed them in to disgust intelligent and sensible unbelievers."35
The "Piscataquis Farmer", newspaper in Dover, Maine, on Friday morning, March 7, 1845, carried the story of a rambunctious meeting held in Atkinson, Maine, on the second of February, 1845. It was a court trial of one of the participants, Elder Israel Dammon, who was charged with being a vagabond and idle person; a common railer or brawler, begging, misspending his earnings and not providing for the support of himself and his family. Church leaders have tried to say it was a false charge, brought by those who didn't believe in Miller's prediction of Jesus' coming. In fact, Miller had given up and admitted his mistake, but the youngsters would not give up.
A John Cook wrote on the fifth of April, 1845, that some were convinced that the appointed time was the fourth day of April because of the visions of a girl.36 Whether that was Ellen or not, I don't know. There were several visionaries at the time, including one besides Ellen who was at this particular meeting. Descriptions, given under oath at the trial, went like this:
"People setting on the floor and laying on the floor; Dammon setting on the floor; they were leaning on each other. It did not have the appearance of a religious meeting."
"They were hugging and kissing one another...The meeting appeared very irreligious - have seen him sit on the floor with a woman between his legs and his arms around her."
"There was a woman on the floor who lay on her back with a pillow under her head; she would occasionally arouse up and tell a vision which she said was revealed to her."
"The woman that lay on the floor relating visions, was called by Elder Dammon and others, Imitation of Christ...the one that they called Imitation of Christ, told Mrs. Woodbury and others, that they must forsake all their friends or go to hell."
"Imitation of Christ told her vision to a cousin of mine, that she must be baptized that night or go to hell - she objected, because she had once been baptized."
"Imitation of Christ was said to be a woman from Portland."
"Imitation of Christ lay on the floor during the time they went down to the water to baptize, and she continued on the floor until I left, which was between the hours of 12 and 1 o'clock at night..[she] lay down on the floor I should think about 7 o'clock."
"I have been young and now am old, and of all the places I ever was in, I never saw such a confusion, not even in a drunken frolic."
"Saw the woman with a pillow under her head - her name is Miss Ellen Harmon, of Portland." (Harmon was Ellen White's maiden name.)
"Sister Harmon would lay on the floor in a trance, and the Lord would reveal their cases to her, and she to them."
"They lose their strength and fall on the floor."
"She told them their cases had been made known to her by the Lord, and if they were not baptized that evening, they would go to hell."
"I saw Elder White...near Sister Harmon in a trance - some of the time he held her head. She was in a vision, part of the time insensible."
Of Miss Dorinda Baker, another visionary,
"We believe her visions genuine. We believe Miss Harmon's genuine - t'was our understanding that their visions were from God. Miss Harmon told five visions Saturday night. I did not tell any person yesterday that it was necessary to have anyone in the room with her to bring out her trances."
"I have seen both men and women crawl across the floor on their hands and knees."
"We do wash each other's feet - do creep on the floor very decently." (Witness affirmed the story of kissing, rolling on the floor and washing of feet.)
"I have seen prisoner on the floor with a woman between his legs - I have seen them in groups hugging and kissing one another. I once saw Elder Hall with his boots off, and the women would go and kiss his feet. One girl made a smack, but did not hit his foot with her lips. Hall said, `He that is ashamed of me before men, him will I be ashamed of before my Father and the holy angels'. She then gave his feet a number of kisses. [I don't know about you but that makes me want to throw up!]
"They would at times all be talking at once, halloing at the top of their voices; some of them said there was too much sin there...they were sitting and laying on the floor promiscuously and were exceedingly noisy."
"The vision woman called Joel Doore, said he had doubted, and would not be baptized again - she said Brother Doore don't go to hell. Doore kneeled to her feet and prayed."
"Miss Baker and a man went into the bedroom. The door was opened - I saw into the room - she was on the bed - he was hold of her; they came out of the bedroom hugging each other, she jumping up and would throw her legs between his. Miss Baker went to Mr. Doore and said,
`You have refused me before', he said he had - they then kissed each other - she said, `That feels good" - just before they went to the water to baptize. Miss Baker went into the bedroom with a man they called Elder White - saw him help her on to the bed - the light was brought out and door closed. I did not see either one of them afterwards."
Someone else denied that it was Elder White who entered the bedroom, then another witness said that it was Elder White.
Elder Dammon was sentenced to "the House of Correction for the space of Ten Days."
Ellen Harmon (White) spent a lot of time ministering from the floor, sometimes "slain upon the floor", and sometimes just lying on the floor. Crawling was to demonstrate humility. A correspondent of the "Norway Advertiser" wrote of seeing, at one meeting, a woman creeping over the floor like a child.
"A man, in the same position, followed her, butting her occasionally with his head. Another man threw himself at full length upon his back on the bed, and presently three women crossed him with their bodies."
A number of warrants were issued for the arrests of many of the "believers" for fanaticism. Before the fateful weekend which precipitated the foregoing trial, Ellen's mother had begged her to come home to Portland because of "false reports" being circulated concerning her.
* * * * * *
Ellen's life was a cycle of illness, despair, vision, super-joy; illness, despair, vision, super-joy. She would go into a swoon, collapse on the floor, her body and limbs stiff, and in such a position produce messages - from God? She was deeply hurt when it was suggested she was mesmerized.
Extensive and excellent research proves what the White Foundation has hidden all these many years: that in many cases she had been listening to, or reading on, a subject prior to experiencing a "vision". Often her "vision" was simply a confirmation of her husband's latest doctrine. I discovered more than one indication that James White took advantage of the apocalyptic mysticism of the nineteenth century and promoted his wife's unusual "talents", thereby securing the family's finances, as well as those of the denomination. (They missed occasionally, however. When Kellogg offered his cereal rights to the Church, Sister White spurned the offer. She didn't think so much time should be taken up with temporal food. She didn't like corn flakes, and stated that it was being too highly exalted; she felt it would be unwise for the church to have anything to do with it! That was a really bad move, to which anyone walking the cereal aisle at the supermarket can attest! Who missed, God or Ellen?)
This was when I discovered that Ellen White's "health reform" message came from Graham, Coles, Jackson, and Trall, as well as William Alcott and others.
Etched deeply into my memory were all those little nuggets I had been assailed with since childhood by everyone from my mother to the preachers to the critical busybody sisters in the church, and especially by what I had read as an adult in my search to know the "will of the Lord" in all things. In addition to no eating between meals, no cheese, no coffee, no meat, no soda, there were hundreds of other "works":
Milk and sugar eaten together are dangerous.37
Covers on the bed should be thrown back to air every morning.38
Windows should be open at night in the bedroom regardless of outside temperature.39
A diet of flesh meat tends to develop animalism. A development of animalism lessens spirituality, rendering the mind incapable of understanding truth. This is presented unabashedly as "the word of the Lord God of Israel"!40
Butchers, as well as meateaters, will not be translated into heaven.41
(Over and over and over Mrs. White blasts away at the eating of flesh, even stating that God's people cannot stand before Him a perfected people as long as they continue to use flesh, as well as tea and coffee. All of which makes it more interesting to note that Mrs. White continued to eat meat off and on as long as she lived. Early on, she had criticized a brother for urging abstinence from pork, but later she made it a test of fellowship. Later yet she ate a pork sandwich in the presence of one of the ministers. She celebrated her homecoming from Europe in 1887 with a fish dinner, and ordered fish and chicken from the meat wagon at campmeeting. She requested meat and fried chicken when at a Battle Creek Sanitarium, served both meat and oysters on her own table. When her husband was ailing, she prepared fresh venison for him.)42
Cakes, pies, puddings, are active causes of indigestion.43 However, "Lemon pie should not be forbidden."44 (Her favorite, I guess. And you should see how many ways good Seventh-day Adventist cooks can make a lemon pie!)
Mustard, pepper, spices and pickles cause cravings for liquor.45
Small bonnets are immodest.46
Hot drinks are debilitating.47
Water should not be taken with meals.48
A woman should not seduce her husband as "many have no strength at all to waste in this direction";49 married couples are accountable to God for the expenditure of vital energy which weakens their hold on life.50
"Because they have entered into the marriage relation, many think that they may permit themselves to be controlled by animal passions. They are led on by Satan, who deceived them and leads them to pervert this sacred institution. He is well pleased with the low level which their minds take..."51
* * * * * *
In 1862 Ellen White had written, "The sciences of phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism are the channel through which [Satan] comes more directly to this generation and works with that power which is to characterize his efforts near the close of probation."52 I was really surprised to discover that two years later she took her two sons to Dr. Jackson for "head readings" and physical examinations. Although she had said phrenology was one of Satan's most powerful agents to deceive and destroy souls,53 she yielded to the popular practice, and at the doctor's price of $5.00 a reading, had both sons evaluated.
The supposed "science" of phrenology theorized that the brain was composed of many "organs" which were "read" by feeling the "bumps" on the patient's head. The strength of the related mental faculty, or trait, was therefore measurable by the "bump" on the head! Sister White often used phrenological terminology such as "animal propensities" in her works. The organs which govern the "animal" propensities were located in the back of the head, and the organs of the intellect and reason occupied the frontal region. I wondered all my life what "animal" propensities meant. Something sinister, I was sure.
Not only did meat, butter , eggs, cheese and spices, as well as overeating, according to the prophetess, cause the "animal propensities" to strengthen, but wigs! Covering the base of the brain, wigs, artificial braids and hairpieces heat the "lower animal organs of the brain," and "the moral and intellectual powers of the mind become servants to the animal." One becomes unable to discern sacred things, "many have lost their reason, and become hopelessly insane, by following this deforming fashion."54 Remarkable!
When I read these and similar statements, I found myself ashamed and chagrined that I had ever belonged to such a sect. There were not only contradictions between her life and her writings, and within her writings, but there were many embarrassingly unscientific and unenlightened statements. One could laugh and say "poor, deluded dear!" if she didn't insist that all of her "wisdom, knowledge, and doctrine" came directly from God!
While it was really difficult for me at first to think that Mrs. White was a victim of hysteria, the more I researched, read and analyzed, the more I became convinced. The cause of her trances was widely disputed at the time, her friends believing they were of God, others believing her to be mesmerized. Some physicians diagnosed her condition as hysteria, an ill-defined disease which sometimes produced deathlike trances and hallucinations, especially in women; and the Doctors Kellogg believed she suffered from catalepsy, "a nervous state allied to hysteria in which sublime visions are usually experienced. The muscles are set in such a way that ordinary tests fail to show any evidence of respiration, but the application of more delicate tests show that there are slight breathing movements sufficient to maintain life. Patients sometimes remain in this condition for several hours.55
Dr. William Russell of the Western Health Reform institute, the first of many Seventh-day Adventist health institutions, reportedly stated that Mrs. White's visions were the result of a diseased organization or condition of the brain or nervous system.56 Dr. Trall predicted that her visions would cease after menopause, and, as a matter of fact, they did. In 1869, she wrote her son Edson that she was experiencing the change of life and "I have more indications of going down into the grave than of rallying. My vitality is at a low ebb...My lungs are affected. Dr. Trall said I would probably go with consumption in this time. Dr. Jackson said I should probably fail in this time. Nature would be severely taxed and the only question would be, were there vital forces remaining to sustain the change of nature...The fainting fit I had on the cars nearly closed my life. I suffer much pain."57 She had no more daytime visions after that time, although she did continue to have dreams at night which she felt were from God.
* * * * * *
Recent scientific studies show convincingly that Mrs. White's symptoms, including the lights she saw upon receiving a "vision", the repetitious words and phrases (Glory, glory, glory!; Get ready, get ready, get ready, etc.), and the compulsion to write, are all consistent with a type of epilepsy brought on by head injury. (See "The Significance of Ellen White's Head Injury," An Editorial Introduction by Doug Hackleman, Editor, Adventist Currents, June 1985.)
* * * * * *
I could write books filled with all the disappointment I felt with Ellen White and the denomination. I had believed her to be inspired, and had overlooked the accusations that she was a victim of hysteria, catalepsy, and so forth. But one thing I could not overlook: plagiarism. How often she stated emphatically that her work came from the hand of God. Now I was seeing that her "health reform" was the same "reform" which was thick all around her in the mid-nineteeth century. She even copied those "reforms" which has since proven to be without validity.
Well, so maybe she did copy from her contemporaries on health topics - surely her spiritual works were inspired. Disappointed again. They were saying now that she plagiarized those, also. I was hearing that all her best works were copied - "borrowed", her supporters claim, not plagiarized!
I went to the Bryant Library and had them order, from the University of Arkansas Library, a very old, very fragile, book: Origin and History of the Books of the Bible, published in 1868 by Calvin Stowe. I had to put up a deposit, and when it came in it was wrapped in tissue paper inside a plastic bag, then wrapped again and placed in a box.
I carefully carried it home, and with a strange mix of feelings I cannot even describe, I unwrapped it and laid it down beside Sister White's Selected Messages, and saw with my own eyes an almost word for word likeness to her Manuscript 24, dated 1886. I suddenly had that same horrible sinking feeling I experienced that day the phone rang and the voice on the other end told me to get a newspaper and check the divorce column. Or that night in San Antonio.
For all this I had given years of my life. I had even raised my children in this cultic religion! I was devastated!
Further research revealed that Ellen White copied most of what she wrote. It is now stated that there is scarcely a paragraph, even in some of the personal letters, which is not is some way taken from other's writings! She and her helpers changed "possibilities" in the works of other writers to absolutes in her own, and then credited them to her "visions"!
According to the new promotional book, Seventh day Adventists Believe...,58 Mrs. White wrote 80 books, 200 tracts, 4600 articles, plus 60,000 pages of manuscript material. Much of the material is duplicated in all kinds of compilations the denomination publishes and pushes on their captive market. But not one mention is made in that book to the copious amount of copying, or "borrowing", however you view it. She is quoted constantly on the 3ABN Satellite Network, sometimes by name, sometimes not. When the Adventist preacher says, "My favorite author says..." you may be sure it is Ellen White. Somewhere, sometime, that lady has a lot to answer for because of the lives which were wrecked as people tried to follow the hundreds of rules she imposed on them in the name of God.
A skit performed at the 1990 General Conference (there were at least two built around Mrs. White) depicted Ellen White and other Adventist leaders meeting and greeting each other in the New Earth. After a bit of conversation Mrs. White said she would meet them later under the Tree of Life, that she needed to go now, as she had not seen Jesus yet. My reaction was,
Ah! I rest my case. They have not seen Jesus yet! They truly have not.
* * * * * *
I started attending the Seventh Day Baptist Church in an attempt to continue observing the Saturday Sabbath. The members enjoyed my playing, and I enjoyed their friendliness. After a few weeks I decided to join the church. The people seemed overjoyed, and I felt warmed in their midst. They had a happiness I had not seen in my former church.
I wrote the eight church board members of the Adventist church, sending a copy to each one at his home address:
"Off and on for more than eight years I have been present at your board and nominating committee meetings, though not in person. Only as a topic of discussion. I have been accused, maligned and slandered. For one last time you must discuss me, but it can be brief.
"Church boards have leaks, you know. I know many of the things which have been said, and by whom. I have known when certain of you have greeted me, that you were fighting every move to use me in the church. One elder said,
'Why don't you just be a mouse in a corner? Every time you do anything there is static.' So he put someone else at the keyboard, even though I was duly elected pianist. Another Elder passed judgment on me to my daughter in the presence of her class.
"One of your deaconesses accused me of jazzing and swinging my music. She was not qualified to judge. I play and sing according to the Bible description of praise which is always rich in both quality and sound, never in mealy-mouthed mumbling and half-heartedness.
"If I taught your children, I was "unfit". On one occasion one of your elders, a man without respect in the community, stood up and blatantly lied about me.
"I have loved this denomination. I thought it was "the truth". I thought that everything I did for the church I was giving as a gift to the Lord. If I had a nickel for the times I dragged my four babies around so I could play an instrument for a meeting, I could retire.
"Your church is not a loving church. While sitting in judgment on me, you, the board members, never, not a one of you, came to my home to visit me as the Bible instructs, to try to understand my situation. Pastor W. did. Later he said everything was all straightened out with the board - they had voted never to bring my name up again. And he asked me would I be willing to teach the young people. I told him I would be glad to do my best, but not to be so naive as to believe that it was over, that I knew you people, and you would never let anything die.
"Surely enough, he came back, apologetic, and said, 'You were right. I guess they'll never let it die.'
"My situation is not unique. My son wanted me to be one of his teachers when he was Sabbath school Superintendent. But later he said, "After listening to the Council chop everyone else to pieces I wasn't about to bring up your name." Pastor Tracey assured me a couple of years ago that it was my church, too, to go ahead and do whatever I chose for it and the Lord. But by then the disease and other problems were taking a toll on my strength, and I just couldn't handle any more stress.
I advised them that I had been visiting the Seventh Day Baptist Church.
"The contrast was shocking. It was as if, knowing that I had come in from the cold, they opened wide their coats and wrapped me in them. We talked a long time after the service, and I asked many questions. I told them that in years past I had been twice divorced, and wondered if one could fellowship with them under those conditions. The little grandmother of the church placed her hand on my arm and said, 'Honey, Jesus doesn't care about your past, why should we?' I joined last week, May 10. The many arms which embraced me told me that I wasn't wrong. 'By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, that ye have love one for another.'
"Of course, the Seventh Day Baptists don't have Ellen White, referred to by many as the gift of prophecy. Paul says, 'If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge...and have not love, I am nothing.' NOTHING.
"All you have to do now is mark a line through my name on the books. You don't even have to vote this time, because I have already made the move.
"I would appreciate it if you would, for my mother's sake, try to be discreet. Otherwise you could read this from the pulpit if you wanted.
* * * * * *
My little Sam had a terrible kidney stone that hit her hard, and was in surgery and out before I even knew about it. I really felt bad about not being with her, but thankful she was all right. She has a scar that looks like someone was trying to cut her in half!
* * * * * *
One day Mr. Neal called me and said in his slow drawl,
"Pa-yat" - he made two syllables out of both our names - "There's a church that needs an organist. They called to see if I knew someone, and I thought about you."
"Oh, Gerald, I've not played organ for pay except as a substitute," I hesitated.
"That doesn't matter. Don't you think it's time you got paid for your playing?" He kept on and convinced me to call the church and set up an appointment. So I had me a job, and I began to hear the pure gospel preached, a fine fringe benefit!
* * * * * *
Meantime, Dr. Tourel said his opera company was planning a concert where opera favorites would be presented in cameo. Would I like to do the "Drunk Scene" from Menotti's Medium? Would I? But could I do it? I would surely give it one good try! I spent every spare moment in study, listening to the greats sing it, playing along with the accompaniment, singing along with the greats, singing with the accompaniment. It wasn't easy. Poor Dan put up with a lot during that time! I not only worked to learn the music, with its difficult pitches, but I tried to get inside the head of Madame Flora, an aging woman who had cheated and deceived a lot of people in her lifetime, yet had a spot of goodness in her heart for not only her daughter, but for a little mute boy who was left wandering the streets after the war. Now every demon of her past comes back to haunt her, and she has taken to drink to drown her fear. Nothing works, however, as she sings, reminisces, cries, and prays, trying to regain her courage. I really enjoyed the challenge.
I was still attending the Seventh Day Baptist church on Saturdays. However, as I listened to the sermons and conversations, the doubts started again. They were too small a congregation to afford a full-time minister, so they used a retired Adventist preacher once a month, and the rest of the time an older fellow with a beard almost to his belt buckle, and a theology which would have us observing all the feast days of the Old Testament. I couldn't buy into that at all. And the young men of the congregation were really into the nitty-gritty of works religion. I guess in this do-it-yourself age it's easy to get into the same mold as the Adventists regardless of your denominational statement.
One young man was disconnecting his utilities over the Sabbath hours. Doesn't the commandment say "the stranger within your gates" should do no work? So the young man felt he shouldn't do anything which would cause anyone else to have to work on the Sabbath, and using his utilities would mean someone, somewhere, was having to work to keep his utilities on! With tongue-in-check I asked him, "What about mailing a letter to the other side of the world? It wouldn't likely arrive in just six days."
In all seriousness he responded:
"Yes, I've thought about that. I always mail my overseas early in the week. I don't know what to do in the circumstance you mentioned."
* * * * * *
I hadn't heard of or thought of Bryan much for quite a while since I had been away from the church, and that was a good feeling. Then a couple who had been by his home informed me that he and his wife were telling it that I had borne a baby to an Iranian man. Again, now, after all these years!
I made a decision. I wrote the surgeon who did my hysterectomy. I received this reply from his attorney:
Dear Mrs. Darnell:
Your letter to Dr. Sylvester has been referred to me for answering. I have a photostatic copy of the microfilm of your records which shows a period of hospitalization from the 4th day of June, 1958 to the 15th of June, 1958 and at that time there was performed upon you among other things a hysterectomy.
With kind regards, I am yours very truly,
The doctor had despised Bryan. I'm sure he understood.
I wrote the Texas Conference President, telling him that this "storytelling" had gone on long enough. After all, eighteen years had gone by. Even if all his tales were true, what benefit could he gain by re-hashing it? He was back in the ministry, had his "partner who really knows what true love is," so what was the necessity of re-telling an easily provable lie? I wrote to the Conference President - the one who wrote "Remember the sled ride?" in my Keene Annual Book:
"For the sake of the children, especially the little adopted one, and for posterity, I will give you a chance to see if you can put a stop to this vicious lying before I go to court with it. It has been enough to have to see the "great evangelist" in the church papers all these years. And since you are the one who brought him back into the "ministry" on the basis of those lies which "proved" him the"innocent party" - you and the Conference, maybe even the Union, will be named in such legal action that I will initiate. I am tired of being slandered. I am tired of my family being hurt. And your carnivorous denomination whose constituents feed on the tragedies of its members, and impute all sorts of imagined immoralities to each other, while touting their own impending perfection, has nourished itself on the rumors and lies spread around.
"I am so happy to be out of that community and working for a church who bears the true sign of the true church which is defined by the Master Himself - by this, not a Sabbath, a diet, or a doctrine, but that you have love for one another. Love does not produce the kind of father Dulane has been to his children. Nor could he lie about me so if he had any of that heavenly love in him.
"I am enclosing a copy of a letter from the attorney of the physician who did my surgery in 1958, and a copy of Tammi's birth certificate which you may compare. As you will note in the letter, the copies of the records are available if you desire further corroboration. Also, from the General Conference I'm sure you could obtain records of our departure from New York on November 4, 1960, and our arrival in Iran on December 25, 1960. Tammi was born on November 7, 1960 while we were still on the Atlantic. So you see, had I had a hundred affairs I could not have borne this or any other child. However there was never any affair. I cannot prove that, of course, but there's no need to. I know.
"Please see if you can put a stop to these malicious stories. And don't reply to this letter. I do not want to hear from anyone about anything relating to my life with him including and especially about an illegitimate child. Next time the story comes to me first-hand from one of the Dulanes, the Conference, or the Union Office, I will do my best to put Texas Seventh-day Adventists on the map in a big way."
I had written the letter on September eight. I received a reply on the eleventh, in which the Conference President stated,
"Perhaps I can talk to [Dulane] and suggest that he refrain from making any statements of this kind in the future."
Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, I realize I should have just walked away from Dulane and the entire denomination as soon as we returned from Iran. What a shame that I had to keep "proving" that I was not my little Sam's natural mother. I wish that I were, she is so special to me. But I am her mother. As she says, "Take good care of yourself, Mom. Your the only mother I've got!"
* * * * * *
For two years I tried to forget it all - even God. My lifetime religion had been centered in a church which began as the result of a mistake and was founded on a lie. I felt it had let me down. The church members were cannibals. If the Only True Church is false, Where do I turn? Where does one go from the Only True Church?
I took another church job. My first two years as a paid organist had been good, and the preachers knew what the Gospel is. But I needed more money I thought, and took another church where I would also direct the choir. I realized that I still had some deep belief when I discovered that this church was more a social event than a place to meet with God. I was told not to use Second Coming songs in the choir, as the "I will come again" promise Jesus made was not very definite.
"And no songs like `The Old Rugged Cross', except at Lent," the minister said.
"Why not?" I asked.
"It's too gory," he replied.
"Well," I looked him in the eye, "I rather imagine the cross event was gory!"
He stared at me a few seconds and walked off. We never established the rapport we needed to work together, and I resigned after a year. Funny thing, he resigned the month after I did.
* * * * * *
One Sunday before I had left the church, I got a phone call. I went out in the hall to the phone, and a guy who was opening a dinner club wondered if I would come play classical piano during his dinner lour - three hours, really, as he wanted to try to offer a Sunday program, as well as week-nights, and he thought classical music would be a drawing card. He said he would pay me $200.00. I went home and picked out some things I could do without practice, and was there by four o'clock. The piano was in poor condition, hard to play, but I gave them a nice collection of light classics. They were pleased with the music, as was the only couple who came in! The guy moaned and groaned about the price we had agreed on, and I finally settled for $100.00. Oh, well!
Meantime, I was busy with my teaching and with the Opera concerts. We were performing all around central Arkansas. It was stressful, challenging and fun. I had to memorize the music and the languages, and learn to act as I sang. I loved the part of
Azucena in Il Trovotore, especially the prison scene and on to the finale. I was always afraid of that last high B and usually blew it - in my opinion, at least! After all, I was a contralto!
Delilah seducing Samson was a great part, all but the French! It was a glamorous act, and Dr. Tourel and his partner had an antique business from which we could borrow furniture, lamps, carpets, etc. They saw to it that the sets were gorgeous. For Delilah there was a couch covered with bright velvets and satin, and I wore slinky white with lots of gold, silver, beads and chains. Maddalena in the Rigoletto quartet was fun, but more concentration was imperative as there were other singers to coordinate with.
I was constantly encouraged to go farther in opera, and had the right opportunity presented itself at that time I would have done so. However, in Little Rock, which some insist will always be a hick town no matter how big it gets, that opportunity did not present itself. I didn't have the money to promote myself, and besides all that, my allergies were becoming more severe. I could see myself trying to perform when the little old lady on the front row had on a perfume which was causing my blood pressure to shoot up, or worse yet, causing a sneezing fit! So I dropped out of the company after nearly four years. The company folded shortly afterward.
* * * * * *
Resigning from the church after that year was the best decision I ever made. We needed the money, but I can't work with an unhappy church. One day Gilbert, at the local Baldwin Store where I taught, said,
"Pat, call this lady back. They need an organist/choir director." When I returned her call, the lady said the church was without an organist, and needed one for a funeral and for the installation service of their new pastor. I played for the two services and was invited to meet with the worship committee. When we sat down together, they wanted to know some things about me, especially about my belief in salvation. They were satisfied. When I said,
"Now I have some questions to ask you," they looked startled.
"Sure. Go ahead."
"I need to know if I can have the choir perform Second Coming songs." They looked as if they couldn't imagine why I had even asked.
"Of course. That's our Blessed Hope, is it not?"
"What about songs of Calvary, especially `The Old Rugged Cross'?"
Again amazement, except for the pastor. He knew where I was coming from. A lot of the churches were liberalizing, questioning the Bible, the Divinity of Jesus, virginity of Mary, and other orthodox beliefs.
"You'd better use Calvary songs. We wouldn't have it otherwise!"
"There is one more question I must ask," I continued. "Is yours a fighting church? I will not work for a fighting, gossiping church." They grinned at each other and assured me they did not fight.
It was a smaller church, and I would have to take a hundred dollars less per month, but what I would gain there would be worth much more than the loss in salary. I took the job.
It was a pretty little Associate Reformed Presbyterian church, nestled under the oaks and dogwood trees. The pastor, Rev. Coad, took a personal interest in Danny and me. I had told him right up front that we were having some problems. I will be eternally - yes, even in eternity - grateful that he always had time for us. Dan and I had never quit loving each other, but were at a point where it seemed we could not live together, and we couldn't live apart. A lot of the problem, I'm sure, was my own "great disappointment" in my former church and its founder - and the resentment I had at having given my entire life to that church. And Dan had not the spiritual strength to help me.
I have heard that it takes two years to de-program those who have been caught up in a cult. Dan says it took me longer,because, I suppose, I was so heavily indoctrinated from my childhood up. One minister predicted, as far as Seventh-day Adventists were concerned, that it would be rare for anyone over forty to accept the Gospel. Am I glad I heard and recognized the Good News!
Two things happened. We began hearing the true, unadulterated Gospel preached on Sundays. And one night, while I was upstairs in our apartment arranging a song accompaniment Dan came up and said,
"Come down for a little bit. I want you to hear something."
I followed him down. We had not had cable TV very long, and the channel was labeled simply, "Local Religious". But Dan had discovered that Trinity Broadcast Network's "Praise the Lord" show was on it at night, and it was their Fall Praise-a-thon. James Robinson, E.V. Hill, and other guests were preaching or dropping in for short talks. We liked it! It seemed there was one goal: Take the Gospel to the entire world!
There was an intensity, a sincerity; such a love for Jesus, gratitude for His salvation, and concern for those for whom He died, that we got hooked! Some TBN ministries I could not appreciate, but overall we enjoyed the Network, and our lives began to be saturated with the love and truth about Jesus.
* * * * * *
If you have based your entire life on something - a belief, a church, a person - and you get the rug jerked out from under you, what do you do? Where could I go from the Only True Church? I was discovering the answer: Go to the Book! I could have stayed with the Adventists and be reading thirteen pages a day for the year in order to read through all of Ellen G. White's Testimonies or I could go with the Bible in a search for Him Who is THE Truth!
A red-letter edition, with all the words of Jesus in red, was a good place for me to start! Over and over I read where THE Authority said, "He that believes in me has eternal life." I had read those texts off and on all my life, but I had never thought much about what belief meant. In my church we had all been trying to sanctify ourselves. Believing on Jesus just meant we thought Him to be God's Son, somehow. Now we were hearing entire sermons on grace - the unmerited, undeserved, favor of God toward us. God could have simply told us all to go to hell! I certainly knew that if by some slim chance I was going to receive some of that favor, it would most assuredly be undeserved. Hadn't my marriages made me feel like the woman at Jacob's well in Samaria? But look at the quality time Jesus spent with her! Ah, hope was rising.
The mystery of God's love in sending His Son to suffer the consequences of my sins, and setting me free of the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment - no church could ever make me feel like a nothing, an outcast, unfit to worship God with them because of my divorces. Never, never, again! Had not the "brethren" time and again through the years been clear about my unfitness to fellowship with them? What I was hearing now was that our own righteousness is as filthy rags, that Christ is our righteousness. What on earth did that mean? I knew He was the only righteous One who ever walked this earth, but how could that apply to me?
I found in the book of Romans, which theologians call "the compendium of Christian doctrine", this text. It blew my mind, for if I had ever read it before, I had glanced at it through a thick lens of Seventh-day Adventism. This is what I read: Nobody will ever be declared righteous in God's sight by observing the law. 59
The purpose of the law was to show me what sin is, how sinful I am. It's like looking in a mirror when you've been cleaning the chimney. You see the soot all over your face. The mirror didn't make you dirty, and the mirror can't clean you up. It simply reveals your condition. The same with the law. How else would we even know a need for cleaning up, for salvation? I had been aware for years that I couldn't "keep" the law, especially when Jesus said if we hate it's the same as murder; if we lust we have committed adultery in our hearts, and more. I and my Adventist friends had been trying for years to control our thoughts on the Sabbath, and you could tell from the conversations that we were all having trouble with coveting, judging, lusting, jealousy, hate. I was ready for some answers.
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So now God offers me a righteousness apart from the law, which "comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."60 All who believe?
What is belief? I had believed there was a Jesus all those years. That hadn't saved me. And James wrote, in his second chapter, that the devils believe, and tremble. So I had to study on to try to know what was meant by believing, having faith in, Jesus.
Back in Romans, Paul tells us that everyone of us has sinned - no matter how good we think ourselves to have been - BUT: we are justified freely because of the incomprehensible, surprising regard with which God views us.61 He justifies us - makes us just-as-if we had never sinned. He did this through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Who came to this earth by a great mystery, and lived the perfect life for us which God accepts in the place of the sorry messes we make of our lives.
Imagine! Jesus, leaving the splendor of Heaven, coming to earth, walking for over thirty years amid the stress, sickness, immorality, greed and death - of this world! And all that after the beauty, joy and purity of Heaven! I had not known, when I was giving those lectures on the Old Testament tabernacle in the wilderness, that the purpose of the fabulous golden mercy seat atop the ark of the covenant was to shut out the testimony of the law against us. Between that law, which points out our insufficiencies, weaknesses and sins - between that law and the justice we deserve stands Jesus Christ, our Mercy Seat, our protection, our covering.
Another tremendous thought which I had missed: The sinner had to bring a spotless, healthy lamb for sacrifice as payment when he sinned. It was the lamb which was inspected by the priest, not the sin, nor yet the sinner! That made clearer than ever to me that Jesus was standing in for me. God has permitted Him to be the sinner in my place and bear the ignominious, despicable, heinous and shameful death which each of us as sinners (and all of us have sinned, remember) deserve. But God inspected the Lamb, His only begotten Son, and found Him to be a completely worthy, spotless and perfect sacrifice. Incredible! It's the greatest mystery in the history of mankind.
Slowly these enormous ideas began to sink in. After over 40 years at hard labor, I was given a pardon! It's a long hard road when you're trying to do it all by yourself. I was learning that I couldn't become too bad - nor could I become good enough - for Jesus to save me. His salvation is a gift! Accepting that gift, believing that Jesus is the Son of the living God, and that He gave His blameless life for my sorry life, is the only door to salvation, to everlasting life, which is the end result of this fantastic gift. If there is any other way to Heaven, if I can do anything to get there, then God certainly made a terrible mistake when He sent His Son to be crucified for me. As the apostle Paul states, If righteousness could be gained by the law, then Christ died for nothing!62
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Our home began to be more comfortable as Dan and I embarked on an intense search for knowledge of Jesus Christ by a deeper study of the Scriptures, at the same time listening to the many different religious voices around us. We found that our religion became less denominational, and more a one-on-one with the Bible. I was excited to discover the text in 1 John 2:27 which says I don't need anyone to teach me, that the Holy Spirit will guide me as I seek truth. God gave the promise that I would find Him if I searched with all my heart;63 that I would know the truth, and the truth would set me free!
Free from every kind of bondage: The man-made rules; concern about what others will think of me; free from the bondage of fear itself; free to move on into my life with confidence, knowing that the Holy Spirit will be nearby; free to study and interpret for myself without rushing to find Ellen White's comments on each and every text I read. The Truth, Jesus Himself, set me free. And to emphasize, He said, If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed! 64
So there! If that doesn't mean free from all the ponderous struggle to "get ready", what does it mean? The Church had always taught me that when the Bible speaks of freedom, it meant freedom from sin - we're going to become perfect, remember? But when I realized that Jesus sets us free from all our works, and what it cost Him to give us this freedom, then my motives for behavior began to change. One cannot clean the house enough to please the King, but when we let Him in, He does the cleaning.
Slowly and surely our attitudes toward the others for whom Christ died changes, and we begin to treat them as we would like to be treated, always giving them the benefit of the doubt, making an excuse for their behavior as Jesus did on the cross, rather than judging and being critical as we did in the past; reacting with honest pleasure at someone else's achievement, instead of jealousy; speaking gently to the family members, rather than shouting. Simple thoughts, yet deep, complicated and mysterious thoughts. I found them to be thoughts worth thinking.
The Jews of Jesus' time had a do-it-yourself religion. So do the Adventists, Mormons, Holiness groups as well as many congregations who say they are saved by grace alone, yet continue to lay a burden of man-made rules on each other. A big fringe problem with all those do's and don't's is the fact that we invariably try to measure the other person, more than ourselves,by the rules.
The poor male Jew could not even go to the rest room in peace, because the busybodies were always checking to see who had been circumcised, and who had not!65 I became convinced that the rules put the cart before the horse!
Paul felt the same way, because he said of those who would force rules on each other that he would like them to go the whole way and castrate themselves!66
Another text that blew me away was Galatians 5:4. I had heard the Baptists, the Church of Christ, Adventists, and Assembly churches using the term "fall from grace", arguing back and forth whether it was possible to fall out of favor with God. The Apostle Paul says if you are trying to be justified by the law you are alienated from Christ, fallen from grace! Wow!
If you are bound by some person's, church's, or organization's rule, you'd better do as I did and Stop, Look and Listen to the Book, the Word of God! It's time to grow up, I decided. In fact, I discovered that the "be ye therefore perfect" Jesus commanded in Matthew five might be better translated Become of full age; become mature; grow up! No more buying every word of a church prophet or a slick, smooth-tongued evangelist. I keep this thought before me constantly as I explore ideas from many sources: Truth of any kind does not threaten a house which is itself founded upon THE Truth!
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Now that I have met and accepted Jesus Christ I may do anything I want to. Hold on! Don't have a convulsion! Just think a minute. If you are searching for Him with all your heart, your want to's are changing, yes? Jesus, our Messiah, becomes the most important Person in your life.
The freedom book - Romans - saved my life, literally! I had tried to adhere to all of the health and diet rules of Ellen White, and I had ended up with allergies and other problems due to having had too much bean-family foods and wheat in my diet. Paul, again in Romans (14:2) says one man's faith permits him to eat anything, but the one whose faith is weak eats only vegetables! That's God's word, not mine, remember. On down in the chapter the tough apostle continues with vigor: The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Do not, he continues, destroy the work of God for the sake of food! I love it! Jesus had already said that it is not what goes into one's mouth which makes him unclean, but what comes out of it. I'm reminded of one blunt little lady who turned to one of the church gossips and demanded,
"Do you think I'm a sow?"
Shocked, the rumor-manager stammered, "N-no, of course not!"
"Then quit pouring that garbage into my ear!"
It's the garbage that comes out of the mouth that affects our relationship with the Lord, not the garbage which we may put into it. It's what's in our dirty little minds that comes out our mouths!
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There had always been a lot of hassle over the "sin" of wearing jewelry. As I perceived it, I needed to take the entire picture of a subject, lay it all out and have a long comparative look. Proof texting - building a doctrine on one text which is often taken out of context - can be ridiculous, or even dangerous.
For instance, the text in 1 Peter 3 which says, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold," also says, "or of putting on of apparel." As I see it, if that text says we should not wear gold, neither should I braid my hair or wear clothes. Let's not be absurd!
Dan bought us a huge concordance which we really could not afford, and we already had several translations of the Bible, so I set out to do my own research. I looked up every reference to jewelry and ornaments, and found most of them to be positive. The first time I read about golden ornaments is in Genesis 24 when Abraham, father of the Jews, and spiritual father of Christians, sent to his homeland for a wife for his son, Isaac.
His servant left for Northwest Mesopotamia with a gold nose ring (NIV) weighing about 5.5 grams, two gold bracelets weighing about 110 grams, and other items of gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing for the intended bride. Daniel, Joseph and Saul wore gold. Both the Old and New Testaments refer to brides as being "adorned". It was often permitted to keep the spoils of war in the forms of gold, silver and precious stones. The reign of King Saul was economically sound, to the extent that it says he clothed his people with scarlet and put ornaments of gold on their garments.
Upon preparing to leave Egypt, the children of Israel were instructed to "borrow" gold and silver jewelry from the Egyptians and put it on their children. Gold, silver and precious stones were given as money offerings. Moses had to ask them to quit giving for the tabernacle, they had so much and were so generous. Job was given gifts of money and earrings. Isaiah says, "My God covers me with a robe of righteousness as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments and a bride with jewels."67
God told an unfaithful Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16, "I clothed you in embroidered, fine linen garments; I adorned you with jewelry: bracelets, necklaces, nose rings, earrings and a crown." The crux of the whole jewelry matter lies in this statement in the fifteenth verse: "But you trusted in your own beauty".
Jezebel is cited by many preachers as the reason we should wear no make-up. Well, have a look for yourself in 2 Kings 9. Jezebel painted her face, attired her head, and looked out at a window. If that says we mustn't paint our faces, then neither must we fix our hair, wear a hat or scarf, nor should we look out at a window!
Adventist lecturer and writer Joe Crews states in Colorful Cosmetics and Jewelry that God refers to objects of adornment as "filth".68 He ignores the fact that robes, capes, shawls, purses and linen garments are included. The "filth" clearly was their defiance of God, the oppression of His people. It is absolutely amazing to what lengths do-it-yourselfers will go to make their rules Biblical! In another place Crews compares the "great whore" of Revelation 17 "decked with gold and precious stones" to the woman in chapter twelve. He states that this woman who was clothed with the sun, had a crown of stars on her head and the moon under her feet is the same as the bride, the Lamb's wife, in Revelation 21:9, and says she wears no ornaments.
Wrong and wrong. In the first place, a crown of stars is certainly an adornment! Second, the Lamb's wife, the bride of which he speaks, is the New Jerusalem, see verses nine and ten. Then just gasp at the many, many jewels: Precious stones; semi-precious stones; gold everywhere, even paving the streets, twelve gates of solid pearl! Ridiculous again!
Four texts in the New Testament should be noted. The father of the Prodigal Son placed a ring on his son's finger as a sign of great affection. James said if a man comes into the church with a gold ring and fine clothes, he shouldn't be given a better seat than the poor man. Peter, in speaking to the Christian woman admonishes her not to let her beauty be dependent upon an elaborate coiffure, the wearing of jewelry or fine clothing, but on the inner personality: the unfading loveliness of a calm and gentle spirit, a thing very precious in the eyes of God.69
I remember a nice-looking fellow taking me out to his truck to introduce me to his wife. I tried not to show my shock. After seeing him in his neat blue short-sleeved shirt, hair cut in the same style as other men, I felt real pity for the drab little lady sitting there, hair pulled straight back in a bun, dull cotton housedress with sleeves to her elbows, heavy hose and black oxfords on her feet. Not one speck of make-up brightened her face. They were of a Pentecostal Holiness group. I've tried to analyze the type of man who has the need for his wife to look like that. I haven't figured it out yet, but I know there's a problem somewhere.
I've seen Adventist women with just as much false humility who could cut their husbands down to size with a sharp two-edged tongue, scream at their kids and repeat a scandal that would sizzle one's ears.
The fourth text is in 1 Timothy 2 where Paul is giving advice concerning public worship. First he tells us who to pray for, then he tells men to lift up holy hands (where have your hands been, fellows?), and for women to dress modestly at worship. Of course, those men who think the wearing of jewelry is wrong save a lot of money. They don't have to buy a beautiful piece for the wife who cleans the floor, scrubs the commode, cooks, washes, irons, vacuums, shops, takes the kids to school, stays up all night with a vomiting child, and often does it while carrying another baby for nine months. Just buy her a new Pyrex bowl or replace the worn-out vacuum cleaner. Why waste money on something just for her?
Once God told Moses that He was fed up with the "stiff-necked" people, and threatened to consume them. They mourned and removed their ornaments, which according to Strong's Concordance, includes finery; outfits, specifically a headstall (whatever that is). Easterners to this day leave off jewels, costly garments, and gold or silver daggers during a period of mourning.70
Giving the church a rule about not wearing jewelry must bring a lot of satisfaction to those who are trying to work their way to Heaven, don't you think? They get the gratification of feeling embarrassed whenever it is noticed they don't wear a wedding band, thereby "suffering for righteousness sake"; the men feel safer if their wives are plain, or ugly, and the ugly wives can criticize the pretty wives and feel superior because, in their ugliness, they have to be holier! I finally decided that God was not in any of it, after reading all the ways He would like to clothe His people! 71
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Legalism: "the principles and practices characterizing the theological doctrine of strict conformity to a code of deeds and observances as a means of justification."72 I knew that I had been a legalist, maybe not so fanatical as some, but a legalist, nonetheless. Legalism is an attempt to gain God's approval by outward conformance to a list of do's and don't's, and minimizes the importance of motives.
After a year or so of study and thought on the matter, I came to this conclusion: Legalism is blasphemy! It says what Jesus did at the cross was not enough, and lays out a program of works by which I am supposed to make up the difference between what Jesus did and what is demanded for my salvation. Sacrilege! Jesus did a completed work for our salvation.
Paul was terribly upset when the Galatians went off into a legalism he called a "different gospel". A legalist will exhibit self-sufficiency, while claiming to believe in salvation by faith in Jesus. He will reply, "Yes, but..." to every Gospel truth he hears. He will be self-serving. You will hear him say he pays tithe, maybe even a second tithe. He has raised his ingathering goal every year for the last umpteen years, hasn't missed Sabbath (Sunday) School in "X" number of years. He will have his morning devotions no matter who may be inconvenienced, or as my Daddy used to say, "even if it hairlips Arkansas". He does good things for the wrong reason. Instead of humbly crediting the Lord for what he accomplishes, the legalist gets a real bang out of letting everyone know of his good works.
I found the legalist to be rather shallow spiritually. Mostly talk, he doesn't dig deeply into the word of God for himself. He may pretend to have it all together, but when the chips are down, there is no firm foundation to support him, and he falls apart. He really prefers to have a set of rules laid out for him by some hero so he doesn't have to think or reason or make a decision for himself - just him and God. By keeping those rules laid out for him by someone else, he is able to "prove" his religiousity. He becomes totally law-bound, into that "other gospel" for which Paul says one should be "accursed" - damned!
An outstanding characteristic of the legalist is his hypersensitivity, and I don't mean allergic, either. He is hypersensitive to any idea of behavior that isn't exactly like his own. Intolerant, unloving, condemning, touchy, he judges people by their appearance or actions without looking to discern motive. He finds it impossible to fellowship with anyone who holds a differing view of prophecy, or studies from a different translation of the Bible, or who may attend social events which he would not attend. He cannot accept others into association with his holier-than-thou self if their clothes, hair style or political views don't suit him.
I thought: The hypersensitive legalists of Jesus' time, totally wrapped up in their man-made religious system, rejected Him as their Messiah, and arranged for His crucifixion.
Those particular legalists were also the greatest Sabbath-keepers of all time. They hated Jesus because He did not conform to their laws, especially the Sabbath laws.
Before I was able to grasp the greatest Sabbath Truth of all, I had to assimilate certain facts.
The ten commandments were given to the Israelites. God spoke those words to a people which He had brought "out of the land of Egypt." He said the Sabbath "is a sign between me and the children of Israel."73 Coupling these statements from God with the accepted fact that the Old Testament points to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, I realized there had to be a much larger meaning for the Sabbath commandment. I wondered, what is it?
Anyone who defiled the Sabbath "shall surely be put to death...whosoever doeth any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.74 Isaiah elaborates by saying one should not do one's own ways, speak one's own words, or do one's pleasure on the Sabbath. I've listened to Adventists debate for years whether it was permissible or sinful for a married couple to make love during the Sabbath hours! At least one book published by the denomination takes up the debate.75 And though Sabbatarians of any faith may spy on each other and criticize one another, they don't put Sabbath-breakers in the electric chair! They should, you know, as commandment breakers were supposed to be put to death!
The children of Israel were to "abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." Exodus 16:29. I could find no commandment to gather for church services on any particular day in the Bible. We are told not to forsake assembling together, and that where two or three are gathered together, He would be in their midst. In Acts 2 we read they daily continued in the temple as well as from house to house, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were saved. After Jesus resurrection, the Gospel - the story that says Jesus saves - was all important, every day, all the time.
Another point any reasonable sabbatarian must consider: Which twenty-four hour period is holy, that which starts in at Mount Sinai, or at the International Date Line, or in one's own home town? I think if you work it out with the Sabbath beginning where it was given at the Mount, you will find that Sabbath in Australia would begin six hours after it begins in California, rather than eighteen hours before, making Sunday the seventh day for the Aussies! If those 24 hours were the actual holy hours, when are you going to start your observance of the seventh day?
Adventists become irrational on the subject. When presented with the special problems which arise when those who live above the Arctic Circle try to keep the Saturday Sabbath from sundown until sundown, Sister White told them that God's world was big enough that no one needed to find homes in those objectionable areas!76 Sure! Let the Norwegians and Eskimos just move south!
If one is going to keep the Sabbath day, one must also keep the Sabbath year. In Exodus 23 both the day and the year were set apart, and again in Leviticus 35 the Israelites were commanded to give the land a rest in the seventh year: "thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard...for it is a year of rest unto the land." The way I saw it, if I was going to do part of it, I had to do all of it. How does one support one's family when taking a twelve month rest?
* * * * * *
Although Ellen White said the labor unions would precipitate the "time of trouble", she repeatedly said that the Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty. The last act in the drama, she "was shown", is the exaltation of Sunday over the Sabbath. All who refuse to observe the false Sabbath will be visited with civil penalties, "and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death."77 Where, among all the Sabbath days, is the Gospel? What happened to Jesus Christ? I thought the last great conflict on earth, just as all great conflicts of time, would be between right and wrong, good and evil, and in the case of the last one, between Jesus Christ and the Devil. But Jesus gets lost in the shuffle somewhere.
One bright day, after much study, reading, research and mental frustration, the truth exploded! Jesus is our Sabbath! He is our rest! Didn't Jesus say, Come to Me all you who are weary and loaded down and I will give you rest? 78 Does that simply mean call on Him when I'm tired, as I've heard it taught many times? That's a good idea, but Jesus had something heavier in mind, I discovered. In Hebrews the fourth chapter, we are invited to enter into God's rest. What is that? I wondered. Then back in the first two chapters of Genesis I saw how the record of each day of creation closed with "and the evening and the morning were the first," second, third, day, and so on. But not the seventh day! It was open ended. What did that mean?
God finished His work, and rested. Would the first Sabbath have been unending had sin not entered the world? Now we are invited to finish the work we make in trying to work our way to Heaven, and relax in His rest, His grace, His peace. When Jesus hung on the cross He cried, "It is finished!" Running down all references in Strong's Greek Lexicon, I discovered that a more literal translation is "Paid in Full", as paying a debt, a tax, an assessment. He paid my "sin tax", the debt which I owed, due to my sins - didn't God say that all who sinned would die? - but Jesus died that ignominous death, with enough guilt and suffering, punishment and pain, to cover every sin ever committed. Those who believe in Him as God's only Son, and accept Him as their only Way to salvation and Heaven, have no fear of hell.
I wept with joy as I realized that He took what I deserve, so that I could have a right to what He deserves. What a gift! And now we may enter into that finished work, that rest and peace of God which William Barclay declared to be "the greatest and the most precious thing in the world."79 All the pressure, all the stress was gone, once I recognized the astonishing fact that when it comes to the debt for our sins, the works necessary for salvation, Jesus, our Substitute, our Sabbath, in Whom we have rest from our works, our legalism - this Jesus paid all the debt, He did all the works! And that, I finally realized, is the Gospel! Christ is the end, the goal, the conclusion, the termination - of the law.80 This is the good news, the message we are commanded to take to the world, "and then shall the end come"!81
Interestingly, just as in the Old Testament those who broke the Sabbath were to be put to death, those who reject grace, the unmerited favor, the undeserved forgiveness of their sins; those who "neglect so great salvation,"82 how shall they escape? "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."83 Don't fool around with God's Son!
* * * * * *
Well, I was doing great in my new-found understanding of the Gospel. Life had taken on a new lightness. Even the old illness wasn't beyond enduring when I thought of the immeasurable love God has for me. Then one day I was presented with a real hurdle. Jesus said in Matthew six that the requirement for forgiveness of my sins is that I must forgive the one who sins against me. Sure. No problem. I forgive everybody.
Bryan and his Lucinda had had a lot of problems. We had heard the gossip going around, similar to the things he had said about me, and their situation had ended in divorce. As a result, he was out of the ministry again. Hoping to work his way back in, he went to hold some meetings in Laurie's district of two churches. Some alleged he was expecting to edge his son out and step into his church, thus re-establishing himself. Laurie was just starting out, having been out of college only a short time.
Bryan moved into the house with Laurie and Joyce and the two children. It was not a large house, and most any house is too small for another person whose habits and lifestyle are diametrically opposed to one's own. A lot of little things, too personal to mention, especially a disregard for privacy and modesty were irritating the family. Then, when some of the church members asked their pastor to stop Bryan's meetings and send him away, he was asked to leave. It was tough on everyone concerned. What child doesn't want to mend broken relationships with a parent?
Laurie was looking forward to his ordination the following Spring. For some reason they passed over him, and he had no idea why. I tried to encourage him. Anointing is more important by far than ordination. One can minister as God leads all one's life without ordination. If one is anointed, chosen, by the Holy Spirit to speak of the salvation of the Lord in one's own sphere - that is the highest calling. Of course, it may not have the pay and fringe benefits that ordination carries with it, but I am convinced that the unsung heroes are those who are taking the JESUS film to the isolated places of the earth; the forgotten missionaries deep in the jungles; the housewives who talk of Jesus to the neighbors; the mechanics who speak for God at the right time; the ill who witness to their hospital roommates; the dying who convince their physicians and nurses of the Place they are headed - these are the anointed.
Laurie's parishioners loved him. He kept busy seeing to their needs and helping them finish out their church building or redecoration the interior, as was the need. He and Joyce tried to keep their children's lives as normal as possible within the confines of the Church.
A year rocked by, and ordination time came up again. Bryan was still out of the ministry. In fact, he was out of the Church now, having been disfellowshipped for divorcing Lucinda and remarrying. Now both his and Lucinda's children were growing up without a father, thanks to him. Desperately needing to get back on the platform, and looking for a scapegoat, he started his usual lying, accusing, hate campaign, this time - can you believe it? - against his own son. He did not want Laurie to have what he had lost, although Laurie had proven he deserved it. The "husband of one wife", he had not run around on her, and just tried day by day to do what he felt God required of him. Partly due to his naturally genteel nature, as well as to his nursing training, he had an innate empathy for his people, as opposed to his father's abrasive personality.
After nearly three years Bryan decided that the little granddaughter had lied about him. To hear him tell it, one night when Laurie was at the other church, the granddaughter and another little girl had disturbed his meeting. He wrote Laurie and Joyce:
"I actually had to stop the meeting three times to try to get her to behave. On the way home, I talked to her about her behavior. I told her that I was not going to put up with her ruining the meetings. I told her that I was not going to tell her parents if it didn't happen again, but that I was not going to tolerate that kind of acting in church. She became very angry with me. I felt at that time I had made a mistake in telling her that I would not tell her folks. She had me where she wanted me."
Brother! an eleven-year-old granddaughter of his! The church members didn't mention any such incident to her parents.
"Now, after nearly three years, the pieces seem to be coming together. It is being noised around that I was committing sexual improprities [sic] with my grandchildren."
Then he proceeds to blame the failure of his second marriage on this, even though he had been complaining of Lucinda for several years, complaints which were shocking other ministers in the area:
"Apparently, this is the charge that came to my former family and was the straw that finished off that marriage. So the damage done was greater than either of you will ever know. Then Lucinda wrote to you that as long as you gave me shelter, you were going to be harassed by the devil. Then when you ordered me out of the house, it gave her something she could really use against me. She said a family member told her that it was what I had done while I was there. I said,"What did I do?" Lucinda indicated that is was far too terrible to talk about, or even mention.
Bryan struck out at Laurie's baptismal numbers. Most ministers and ministries judge a church or a pastor by growth, by numbers.
"I wanted more than anything else to make you a real soul-winner. You know your work up to that point was no real success...Now I have found out that you are spreading these foul charges around, and are trying destroy both my work and character." (The is easy to identify, isn't it? It sounds just like the same old Bryan who wrote all those "foul" letters years before.)
He then quotes from an earlier letter of his:
"Seems like Lucinda still is trying to raise trouble...trying to turn all my children against me. She said she was told that something I did down there was so bad that I couldn't be allowed to stay longer. All I can say is forgive me for I know not what."
Mother taught a little guy in second grade years ago who, whenever he was involved in a spat with another child would insist "Thur ain't nothin' my fault!" Bryan has reminded me of him many times through the years.
"And again, let me assure you that my evangelist ministry is not over yet. I feel that I am just getting in gear. I have a precious wife that loves me, which is a strange and wonderful feeling that I have not known before. Opportunities are opening up for me to preach that I had never dreamed of. The best years of my ministry are just coming up. You learn a lot through suffering. Then if these unjust charges get around, it might for a time hinder my work, until they are really understood. And furthermore, my June baby is literally sick that these things are going on. I am not going to let her be drug through this continually."
He seems to be doing steadily better for wives. Remember when he said, "Lucinda is the most wonderful girl a person could have. For the first time in my life I have a pardner who really knows what true love is"?
"With these things in view, I am asking for a committee meeting, and you will be there. I am asking that this meeting be held soon, before your proposed ordination, With love still, your dad."
He also wrote the Conference President:
"Dear Bob, I have read and re-read your letter, and my good wife and Mother have also shared it. I trust that you will accept this reply kindly, and that we will still be buddies by the time you finish.
"In the first place, you seem to indicate that I am trying to do Laurie in. I have never thought of such a thing, and you can be assured that I have not stated this in any way. This is his doings altogether. Does it matter to you that he is bent on doing me in. Does my ministry for the last decades, and my prospects of future exploits for God enter your mind.
"I have not been doing Laurie in. Even when he drove me out of his house, I did not try to retaliate or do him in. He has been the one doing the dirty work. I have tried in every way I can to get it stopped, or at least find out what the problems were so I could get things straightened out. You should have picked that up from the letter I wrote in 1985.
" Another thing I cannot understand is your statement that he has a nice attitude. Of course he does to you. He couldn't afford to do otherwise. His future promotions reside in your hands. But even more important is his attitude in God's sight. The scripture declares, "He that curseth his father...shall surely be put to death." [Did Bryan want his son executed?]
"Why, Bill, how could he even rightfully partake of communion? [Remember? One has to be "worthy!)
"If it were your son that undermining you [sic], and determined to eliminate you from the presidency, and destroy your influence and ministry, would he still have a nice attitude? Since you have never known anything like this, it is virtually impossible for you to know what you would do. King David would better understand the issues.
"You say you would never do your own children that way. I doubt if your ministry were at stake, your presidency, your very reputation and character, you certainly would do something to try to get the matter settled."
He goes on and on in this manner, ad nauseum, becoming rather redundant. He says he has tried everything the "Bible Way": his family will bless Bob if he gets it all straightened out; and asks for a hearing on the matter. After another half page he concludes, with a great show of purity and innocence:
"When I was ordained, and I have not turned back for a minute on my heavenly vision though not employed by the conference, there was a very careful screening of the candidates for ordination. I was made to wait an extra year, not because there was anything on my record [oh, really?] but because I changed conferences. But when a man is openly and unashamedly violating the commandment, "Honor they father and mother", well I am only one that can not understand his ordination."
The Conference president, who wanted to see Laurie ordained, asked him if he thought he could write some kind of a letter that would satisfy Bryan. Laurie thought about it several days, and wrote a letter which said not much, but appeased Bryan. He said he was sorry things seemed to have gotten out of proportion and denied that they said he had bothered anyone in the family physically.
"As for asking you to leave, several of the church leaders asked me to ask you to leave because of the controversy that was being stirred up. At least one of the members called the Conference and asked that they call you back." He said he was sorry about the situation Bryan found himself in. Bryan was apparently not only appeased, but excited by the letter. It must have stirred him up but good! Something precipitated the following letter. Twenty-four years later, he reaches back for the old lies, and lo and behold, makes them better!
I very much appreciated hearing from you, and was grateful for your response. Maybe if I relate to you some of the things that you know nothing about, it will help you to see more clearly some of the issues.
You, of course, do not remember this, but your mother left me before you were born. You were several months old before I first saw you. But when I had to drive away and go back to college and she refused to be my wife, it was one of the saddest days of my life. But there was more to come.
When your mother became involved with several men, and Andrew in Iran was by no means the first or the last, I was heart broken. There was a man that she was involved with that you have never heard anything about. I covered it over as best as I could, even to the division officers. But I did insist that they move us to Tehran and away from the situation. But she swore vengence [sic] if I tried to break up her affair with Andrew. I begged her to break it off. And I pled with the Lord to save our home, one night till at least 5 in the morning.
Well, when the mission got the facts,they put us out. I was forced to leave the work I loved and lived for, serving in a mission field. When they put us on the plane, your mother was bawling and defiant. Such anguish I had never known. But there was more to come. But this was one of the saddest days of my life.
Your mother had turned your adopted sister over to me, as she had told me to get rid of her, because "I don't want anyone to think I had been with a nigger."
However, your grandmother tricked me into thinking that if I came to Little Rock she would help to save our home. Since it was the last straw, I foolishly went into Arkansas with Tammi.
She came to meet us in one car, and Leo in another. Leo took me right home and by the time you got home with your mother, she had already been to the lawyer's office and tied up all the children, preparatory to a divorce.
You may not have known, but early the next morning, your grandmother ordered me out of the house. I had no place to go. Daddy had just died, Mother was back in Honduras, and furthermore, I didn't have a single dollar. Your mother had taken every dollar I had in Iran, and your grandmother had closed out our account, and taken all our money in the states.
They finally gave me 10 dollars, I believe, to be gone, and Leo hauled me off down town and dropped me. What I told him later turned out to be true. I said that after they had ordered me off the place, then they would tell far and wide that I had deserted my family. Later, I understand, they regretted being so hasty as they were trying to find me to throw me in jail.
I guess this was an even sadder day in my life. I was destitute, with no home or money, no place to go. I longed for death - but there was more to come.
Many years later, when I had the chance to come down and work with you, I was overjoyed. I wanted not only to win souls, and to help you get hold of your ministry, but also to let you observe that I wasn't that degraded monster that I had been made out to be. I wanted nothing more than to establish a bond of unity and friendship that a father and son should have.
And then, when I was so happy to have been able to just be there, I was ordered out of the house.
My heart was broken. I felt, when I drove off from your place, that I couldn't bear the anguish. I could hardly make it home. I guess that this was really about the saddest day of my life.
One thing I doubt that you know. I didn't divorce your mother. I plead [sic] with her not to divorce me. Even months later I wrote to see if she would stop the divorce and come back to me. I tried to fight it through the court, but the attorney said that I couldn't stop her. She did exactly as she said she was going to do when we left Iran - get rid of me and get another man.
But I can also say this - that if I had been fortunate enough to have met June in the first place, there would never have been a divorce at all.
Well, I don't know if the anguish of your mother's repeated love affairs, or the despair of being put out of Iran in disgrace, or the helplessness of being ordered out of Ruby's house in Little Rock when I came home from Iran, or the deep sorrow of being ordered off of your place was the greatest blow. Nevertheless, I appreciated your letter, and though I still have no idea of why things happened as they did, I have no hard feelings to anyone.
Again I say, forgive me - I know of nothing further to confess. My conscience is absolutely clear before God, but at times we can offend without the slightest realization.
With these things in the past, we can both look forward to the future. I am so excited about the outlook, I find it hard to go to sleep at night. Things are happening now so fast, it is making my head swim. Soon I will be preaching to more people in one sermon than I have preached to collectively in all my life. You'll know more about this in a few months.
I have not meant to hurt anyone with this letter. What I have written are facts that are absolutely true. Now that you are older, I thought you ought to know.
At last Bryan was satisfied, and called off his "hearing".
My son was ordained at last.
* * * * * *
My spiritual condition, however, was precarious. His letters, his stories to all who would listen to him were, to use a Bible term in the place of a word commonly used, "dung". I wasn't hurt so much by Bryan's latest accusations, personally, but when he attacked my kids, that was something else again. I had heard that time heals all wounds, but secretly I hoped that time wounds all heels! That text kept jumping out at me: "If you refuse to forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will not forgive you."84
Brother! Does God really expect so much from me? To forgive him for writing such a letter to my son? For maligning my relationship with my little daughter? Even a mother animal or a female bird sitting on her nest will defend her offspring from an attacking enemy, even to the death. What did God expect of me?
I don't have all the answers to those tough questions. I may never have them all. But one fact I had to face: Forgiveness, as shown at Calvary, is very expensive. It is the blood of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Who left the purity, joy and splendor of heaven to live for more than thirty years amid mean, lying, double-dealing, self-righteous and greedy people; Who died a horrible, de-humanizing death for those He loved - it is His blood that cancels our sin. When Jesus was hanging on that cross, his flesh tearing more and more at the site of the spike wounds,the muscle spasms twisting the innocent, holy body, He did an incredible thing. Even while feeling the guilt of all our sins He prayed, "Father, forgive them." Then, incomprehensibly, He made an excuse for them! "They don't know what they are doing."85 I'm glad that His Father put His hand over the sun and let the darkness hide the intense suffering of His Son as God's face hid from Him.
Here is the Man who did not want me for my body. He did not want me so I could wash His dishes and sweep His floors. He didn't just want me because I could make fine music for His meetings or meet people well. He simply wanted me to be with Him, to share in His Kingdom. He loved me in spite of all the stupid, rebellious, and self-righteous things I've done.
So while you and I are saying, I will never forgive the person who hurt me so, we have to recognize that Jesus "put His money where His mouth was", so to speak, when it comes to forgiveness. We have no choice about whether or not we are going to forgive. I had no choice, if I were to be forgiven and saved. I had to forgive Bryan, and all those who cooperated with him in hurting us. I had to make a deliberate, determined decision to let God be his judge, and quit getting upset every time his name came up.
Forgiveness, I learned, is not a mushy, sentimental feeling. Just a resolution to pitch the bitterness, hate, and all those other destructive emotions, and as someone put it, "F-I-D-O. Forget it and drive on." The true church of Jesus Christ is simply a forgiven and a forgiving community of believers!
One day as I was watching a National Geographic Special my little Ceci came in.
"Oh, come here, Honey," I said. "They have gone down into one of the deepest parts of the ocean. Come, look at what they're bringing up out of the Mariana Trench!"
Quick as a flash Ceci asked, "Did they find the sins?" I couldn't let her see the sudden tears of joy which came to my eyes as I remembered telling her that Jesus threw all our sins into the bottom of the sea.
* * * * * *
Continuing to study, to "prove all things and hold fast to that which is good,"86 I found this in the first two verses of the book of Hebrews: God spoke through the prophets in times past, but now He speaks to us by His Son! As far as I'm concerned, that takes care of all modern-day prophets, including and mainly, Ellen White. Never, never again will I give my God-given reason over to a human authority. That's how the cults have developed - by people who are willing to give over their consciences to some smooth-talking, heavy-handed dictator. When I read how Paul said he would know nothing among the Corinthian church except Jesus Christ and him crucified, I vowed, Me, too! Those of us who have come from bondage can appreciate the fact that true faith, real Christianity, is not Do, do, do! but It is done! Jesus paid it all!
I buried myself in Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians. With the help of my huge concordance, I got my Bibles out and dug deeper. I say Bibles, plural, because I like to use several translations, although it is not necessary to do so if you have the Strong's Concordance. Learning to use the Hebrew and Greek Lexicons in the back of the big book was lots of fun. Because I was born in the twentieth century, I prefer a Bible written in the language I speak and understand. Since the important thing is finding Jesus I don't get involved with those who believe in only one God-blessed translation. Personally, I prefer the New International Version. It is a real experience. Listen to Paul on the Gospel:
"In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."87 Absorb that!
Then there's the one in Paul's letter to the church at Phillipi, where Paul and Silas had once been imprisoned. Remember when the earthquake destroyed the prison, and the jailer was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped?
"Don't hurt yourself," Paul said. "We're all here!" The jailer took the beaten and bloody men home with him, cared for their wounds, and that night he and his family accepted Jesus as their Savior. Paul was fond of the little church which sprung up there, and it was to them that he wrote so profoundly of the Servant, Jesus.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him a name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.88
* * * * * *
Since the gospel gives us everything - forgiveness, assurance of salvation, eternal life, everything! - it therefore demands a continual spirit of celebration. Never again will I be afraid to speak for my Lord Who saved me, not because of any righteous things I have done, but because of His great mercy!89 I found where Paul writes to the Christians in Rome that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. A righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from A to Z!90
I had seen throughout a lifetime that the religions of the world were all attempts to become acceptable to God, whomever that may be to each one. Reincarnation is the same. Man realizes he can't achieve a perfected state in one lifetime, so he has to live through many lives until he finally becomes one with Nirvanah, one with the universe. I had seen for myself that my church, Seventh-day Adventism, was the same as all the other cultic-type, works-oriented religions. It was man trying to reach God.
But the true religion of Jesus, genuine Christianity, is the one and only one where God reaches down to man - reaches down and pulls mankind upward to Him!
I once had a cute little voice student - pretty, personable and talented. Her husband was in prison and she was trying to make ends meet for herself and her two beautiful children. She was looking for something to help her get her life under control. First she tried Islam. All the prayers and special diet brought her no peace. Then she joined other friends, sitting on the floor chanting, but Buddha brought no peace into her life, either. Try Jesus, pretty lady! Muhammad didn't even claim to die for you. Nor did Buddha. And they didn't come back from the grave to offer you eternal life.
But JESUS died the death you deserve to make it possible for you to have that peace for which you've been searching.
There are those who say the resurrection of Jesus is a myth. I could give you a number of what I consider proofs that He rose from the grave. For one, Paul said that Peter saw Him after He arose, then the disciples saw Him, and later over five hundred people at one time saw Him. Josephus, Jewish historian of the first century, recorded that many people believed Jesus' resurrection to be factual. But the one thing which most impresses me is that those tough, rough men who followed and worked with Jesus for a number of years - those fellows insisted to their death - literally - that He had risen.
Paul noted on several occasions that he was being persecuted and mistreated because of his belief in the Jesus' resurrection. Eventually he was martyred, as were all the other disciples with the exception of John, and he suffered persecution and torture. I mean, really! How far would one go to protect a fable, a lie? Not to death! Yet the disciple Thomas was pierced with a Brahman sword in India because he was spreading the story of Jesus' resurrection. Mark was dragged to death in the streets of Alexandria. Peter was crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded, Bartholomew was flayed to death - skinned alive with a whip, in Armenia. Luke was hanged. All these men, separated from each other, each one murdered - for a lie?
Thousands upon thousands who followed them, believed their story to the point of laying their lives on the line, too, in hundreds of horrible ways. The writer of Hebrews said they were stoned, sawn asunder, slain with the sword, wandered in deserts, mountains, and in dens and caves. And the world was not worthy of them. That's faith, my friend. It really is!
* * * * * *
A little lady said to me not long ago, during a discussion of grace, "Yes, but we have to do SOMETHING for our salvation!" We have to believe on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for our salvation. Period. The do-it-yourselfers see belief as simplistic. But Jesus is the one Who said it. How dare we refute His authority? If we believe that HE is the Son of God, trust that His death and resurrection provide everlasting life for us, we have done all that we can do. God then places His seal of ownership on us, and puts His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.91
Everything in my life had become reversed. I had always had "assurance" of the meaning of every little prophecy, of every diet requirement, of the "Investigative Judgment", of the mark of the beast and the seal of God."92 Therefore, no "sabbathing", or resting, in the assurance of our salvation, since we all transgress the law! We were often told: "No sanctified tongue will be found uttering these words [I am saved] till Christ shall come, and we enter in through the gates into the city of God. Then, with the utmost propriety (no praises or dancing for joy?), we may give glory to God and the Lamb for eternal deliverance...93
Ah! But now it is different! I have assurance of my salvation, my everlasting life, and I wouldn't swap it for anything on this earth!
God is going to judge us by the way we treat His Son. Jesus said, I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has - present tense - eternal life and will not be condemned, does not come to judgment (see Strong's Concordance). J.B. Phillips says "He does not have to face judgment; he has already passed from death into life!"94
You will discover, as I did, three very basic doctrines in these few texts. You will reinforce them with many, many others as you study. First, we can know that we are saved. Second, salvation not only includes, it is, everlasting life. I can't find any place where Jesus says He gives everlasting life after a soul-sleep interruption. The soul-sleepers ignore Paul's statement that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,95 and to die is gain.96 Gain - better? - in a cold wet hole in the ground than to be in Heaven with God?
So often there is much more interest in upholding the beliefs of the organization than in discovering truth. I got my concordance out again and looked up the more than 100 times the word "life" is used in regard to the marvelous gift brought to us - given to us - by Jesus. I found in John 5 and John 11 these words of Jesus: "The Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it." Indeed! Then, "whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed from death to life!" and "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will never die!" Soul-sleepers love to quote one text lifted out of a book which starts out "Emptiness, emptiness, all is emptiness!" or "vanity" or, "meaningless", and is so depressing all the way through that one wonders how it came to be in the Canon of Scripture! The text the soul-sleepers love is the fifth verse of the ninth chapter: the dead know not anything.
Now if you prefer the words of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, and yet was so stupid as to leave his God for multiple idolatrous wives - it's your choice. I opted for Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, THE way, THE truth, THE life! And my life began, my heart filled with unbelievable peace, once I took Jesus at His word.
Paul believed his soul would go to Jesus upon death. He said it would be preferable to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.97 Again, in Romans eight he stated he was convinced that even death could not separate us from the love of God. Now that should set your toes a-dancing! It does mine!
I wish I had known all of this when Daddy died. The loneliness would have been bearable. There would still have been the tears along the way when I heard a song he loved, when the boys accomplished something I wanted to share with him, when the little girls talked and giggled. But there wouldn't have been the awful, gut-wrenching sobs, the deep unquenchable sorrow. I have told my beautiful grandchildren that even though they will cry for missing their grannie, they should laugh because they can know where I will be - finally playing music with hands that don't hurt, singing praises with a clear, no-allergy voice, and dancing up a storm on good knees. Well, maybe not a storm!
The Adventists quote the text "God only hath mortality"98 to prove that we can't possibly go to Heaven when we die. That's correct, we are not immortal. However, eternal life is the gift of God!99
The Seventh-day Adventist, who is scared to death of the devil, will say of the belief that we go to God when we die: "Yes, but that opens the door to spiritualism." Not at all. Spiritualism has been around ever since God booted Lucifer and his "spirits" out of Heaven. They've been counterfeiting every program God has ever since then.
One question I cannot get any soul-sleeper to answer for me is: Why wouldn't every Christian want to go to God upon death? Why wouldn't he be straining to prove he would be going to God upon death rather than grasping so hard to prove that he will decay in a hole in the ground, all of him?
The third basic doctrine I see in those texts is that judgment is nothing to be feared if I believe in Jesus as my only salvation. As an Adventist I was terrified of the judgment, as is ever other church member. I thought I couldn't possible go to Heaven when I died because I had first to face judgment, the Great White Throne judgment - this, in addition to the "cunningly devise fable"100 of the Investigative Judgment. But now I could see that Jesus didn't say that at all. Ellen White had scared me to death all those years by telling us that the only question to be asked at the judgment was:
Have you been obedient to the commandments? 101
But now I know that because of my faith in, and my love for, God's Son, I don't have to face judgment. Again, a toss-up between the words of Jesus and the words of Ellen White. Take your choice. You already know mine.
* * * * * *
Danny and I were so relieved to know that we knew that we knew we were safe in the love of Jesus. We watch a lot of preachers present their sermons, and we "try the spirits".102 No longer spiritual infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men," we know that now we must "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."103 So we try to "prove all things", to search the scriptures" to see what things are true.104 I can never permit myself to be deceived again. Never. Ever!
* * * * * *
I am convinced that the last great struggle of this world will be between Jesus Christ and the great Destroyer - the Devil. Satan has a never-say-die attitude about it. He knows he has lost out. He knows that his time is limited, so he is trying to "devour" everyone that he can, desiring to take as many as possible into that eternal torment with himself.
But we are not just on the winning side - we are on the side that won! Jesus beat out the Devil when He came out of that grave!
"Take up your cross," Jesus says to us now, "and follow me. In this world you will have troubles, but stay cheerful, remembering that I have overcome the world!"106 We walk by faith in His loving care, one day at a time, one step at a time, "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit," the Lord says.107
I have learned to love the Book. Paul told Timothy that we must study if we are to be approved by God. All the answers to all our questions are in the Book. What about the New Age Religions? Dominion Theology? Signs and Wonders movements? The Prosperity Message? I dig deeply into that Book, and I find the answers which keep me from running out on the wrong limb. I study with a mind to finding Jesus Christ in those answers. He is central.
If you look at the Scripture with the eyes of a Seventh-day Adventist, you will see Seventh-day Adventism.
If you look at the Scripture with the eyes of a Baptist, you will see Baptist-ism.
If you look at the Scripture with the eyes of a dispensationalist, you will see dispensationalism.
If you look at the Scripture with legalistic eyes, you will see law.
But if you look at the Scripture through the eyes of your own great need, you will find Jesus!
Behold the Lamb! What you'll see is what you'll get!
I no longer know everything about end-time events as I once thought I did. Nor do I even pretend to know the mind of the all wise, all knowing, omnipotent Maker of Heaven and earth, Planner and Creator of the Universe, as I once liked to think I did. But you see, I don't need to know it all, because the One Who does know it all is my Close Personal Friend! I don't have to worry about that horrible close of probation which kept me so frightened as an Adventist, because my Close Personal Friend made me a promise: I will never leave you or forsake you, not even until the end of the world!108 So take your choice, dear Adventist friend: Ellen White or Jesus Christ!
Salvation is not a denomination, not Positive Confession, not visualization, not Christian Psychology, neither is it self - control and will power! God's truth is not an abstract philosophical ideal, nor is it a rigid set of rules to follow. It is a relationship to be lived. A relationship between Jesus and me - Jesus and you. Jesus has the priority over any and every church leader. I claim His promise that my hunger and thirst for righteousness' sake will be filled.109 He will make Himself known to me.
Jesus said, "I am the truth."110 He did not say: The church is the truth. If the church does not rightly represent Jesus Christ, if it does not hold Him high for all to see, the church is a false church. The church will not answer to God for me. I will answer for me. The church will not answer for you. You will answer for you. And by simply trusting Jesus for our salvation, Jesus will be our Answer. He will stand in our place.
* * * * * *
My pretty little Sam sent me a ticket to fly out to Florida and spend a week with her. There was a misty rain falling as we began to lose altitude out of Jacksonville. As the pilot began his slow turn, I noticed a lovely rainbow. Then I did a double take. The rainbow had no end! It was a full circle, continuing under the plane!
I was reminded of the prophet Ezekiel's vision of God's throne room in the first chapter of that book. He saw a throne of sapphire, can you imagine! The Man who sat upon it looked like blazing, glowing metal as if He were full of fire. A brilliant rainbow encircled the throne, radiance everywhere; everything luminous!
I thought: Jesus is central. He is the center of the universe, the center of Heaven, the center of the affairs of this world, whether or not its leaders are aware of the fact. And He should be the center of our church and of our lives. He should be central in every sermon that is preached, every song that is sung, so the many facets of truth and light may be preached and taught, but always Jesus Christ is central!
Did your prince evolve into a frog? Did your princess fly away on her broom? This Jesus will not let you down. Go to the Book and get acquainted with Him. There are only two answers to Jesus Christ - yes and no. There can be no mugwumps, no fence - straddlers when it comes to Jesus and the life everlasting which He offers you.
Now that I am in Christ, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, I am a new creation! Old things are passed away. All things are become new! Leave the past in the past! Become a new creation in Jesus! God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.
Then the Apostle continues with the most astounding, staggering, awesome; the most stupendous words ever penned:
God made Him Who had no sin
to be sin for us,
so that in Him
we might become the righteousness of God! 111
What an incredible mystery!112 And I've read the last chapter. I know Who-dunnit! And I will spend all eternity marveling at why He did it.
For the next ten million years as I roam His fantastic Universe I will wonder at the amazing love God has for us. I will listen in grateful awe to tales of the times our guardian angels have moved in our behalf, the many miracles done in defense of God's people - won't that be great fun?
* * * * * *
In the book of the Revelation Jesus says, "I counsel you to buy of Me white raiment, that you may be covered, and that the shame of your nakedness not appear."113 My own works are not adequate to cover the shame of my sins. But the robe Jesus offers me covers completely and beautifully, for it is His own robe, His righteousness which is seen, and not my own "filthy rags"!114
Now, at long last, I am all dressed up and ready to go! Anywhere, as long as He is with me!
How about you?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * 2010 * * * * * * * * * * * * *
All Dressed Up and No Place To Go – Epilogue
Yes, I thought I was ready to go anywhere, as long as God was with me. But it seems He wanted me to “put my money where my mouth was,” so to speak. He gave me a walk to walk that took me to the depths of despair and grief.
On a terrible day in 2000, my beautiful son Jerry died with a fast-moving leukemia. These are the times when our faith is sorely tested. A mother's worst nightmare. I could not deny my strong belief that I was still God's child, but there were a lot of dark days. I couldn't understand how God could let this happen. I cried out to Him, You say that You love us more than we love our children, but I would never hurt my child as I am hurting!
Of course the conversations were one-sided – except when I would go to the Book, and there find those promises that Jesus' followers never die. Even then I still insisted to God that I needed my son more than He needed him.
I don't know how I would have handled it as a Seventh-day Adventist. I doubt I could have lived with it. The only thing that carried me through – and still does, as for a mother the pain never goes away – was the fact that Jesus had jerked the rug out from under me long before, and I had left Adventism with it's teaching of soul-sleep which is totally contrary to Jesus' words: Jesus, the Giver of life everlasting, Jesus, Whose promised that we will never die, never see death; Who teaches us that salvation is nothing more or less than eternal, never-ending, never interrupted, life! Jesus, Who graciously has forgiven all our sin - well, He not only makes us these super promises, He sustains us during these black holes which appear in our lives.
We don't know why these things happen to us. It's just life in this old world. And there will be more in our family – and in yours – but we have this hope burning within us: we can know that our loved ones are safe in Jesus' arms, and we will see them again. We weep for our loss, we miss them as long as we live, but we look forward to being with them again, singing and dancing in the joy of the salvation Jesus has provided us. It is a Blessed Hope!
Pat Pine Darnell
A Mother's Rose
My family is a garden where
Each child's a lovely rose,
As petals open, year by year,
The child in beauty grows.
Those precious tiny fingers
Into hands productive grow;
Girls to women, boys to men,
A mother loves them so.
One of my lovely roses,
A full-blown flower, tattered,
Faded, and flew far from us
As we watched, forlorn and shattered.
The only hope left us at all
Is Jesus' promise sweet,
“Believe it, for I have said it,
Again you will all meet.
“I died to bring forgiveness,
Grace and life eternal.
Your lovely rose is with Me now,
Enjoying life supernal.
“I, alone immortal,
Have risen from the grave,
Destroying death, infusing life
In those I came to save.”
Read more about the Seventh-day Adventist church
ALL DRESSED UP - FINALLY!
1. Seventh-day Adventists Believe... A biblical Expositions of 27 Fundamental Doctrines, Produced by the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, (Hagerstown, MD,: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1988.
2. E. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, 422.
3. E. White, Patriarchs, 357.
5. E. White, Early Writings, 253.
6. E. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, 480.
7. See Strong's Concordance: "finished", on John 19:30.8. E. White, The Desire Ages, page 49.
9. Ibid, page 122, 123.
10. E. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 459, 460.
11. E. White, Manuscript 91, 1903, quoted in Evangelism, page 510. 12. E. White, The Ministry of Healing, page 298.
13. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 6, page 355, Counsel to Teachers, page 356.
14. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 583; Volume 6, page 350.
15. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 76. 16. E. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, page 490.
17. E. White, Christ's Object Lessons, page 155.
18. E. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, pages 50: 382, 383; 448, 449; 566; Testimonies to Ministers, page 473; Testimonies, Volume 8, page 117.
19. L.E. From, Our firm Foundation, Volume 2, page 81.
20. E. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, page 78.
21. E. White, Notebook Leaflets, The Church, Number 8, quoted in Selected Messages, Book 2, page 163.
22. E. White, Selected Messages, Book 1, page 27.
23. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 5, page 66.
24. See Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults, (Minneapolis, MN. Bethany House Publishers, 1985), page 134, footnote.
26. E. White, Early Writings, page 12.
27. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 20.
28. 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1; 1 Timothy 2:15.
29. Adventist Review, (formerly Review and Herald ), July 5, 1990.
30. E. White, Letter 55, 1905, quoted in Selected Messages, Book 1, page 36.
31. E. White, Letter 244, 1906, quoted in Selected Messages, Book 1 page 36.
32. See Robert W. Olson, ONE HUNDRED AND ONE QUESTIONS ON THE SANCTUARY AND ON Ellen White, Ellen G. White Estate, Washington, D.C., 1981.
33. Ibid., page 40.
34. Ibid., page 41.
35. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 412.
36. See Adventist Currents, April 1988, page 33.
37. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 370.
38. E. White, Counsels on health, page 58.
40. E. White, letter 59, 1898, quoted in Counsels on Diet and Foods, pages 382; 471; Counsels on Health, pages 575, 576.
41. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 60.
42. See Ronald Number's Prophetess of Health.
43. E. White, Ministry of Healing, page 302.
44. E. White, Letter 127, 1904, quoted in Counsels on Diet and Foods, 288.
45. E. White, Ministry of Healing, page 325.46. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 189.
47. E. White, Review and Herald, July 29, 1884, quoted in Councils on Diet Foods, page 420.
49. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 2, page 477.
50. Ibid, page 472.
51. Ibid. page 478.
52. E. White, Testimonies, Volume 1, page 290.
53. See Number's Prophetess_of_Health, page 234, number 28.
54. Ibid, page 244, number 31.
55. See Prophetess of Health, notes on chapter one for doctors' diagnoses and comments on the state of Mrs. White's mental health.
57. E. White, letter to Edson White, 1869, quoted in Prophetess of Health, pages 180, 181.
58. See note number one.
59. Romans 3:20.
60. Ibid., verse 22.
61. Ibid., verses 23 and 24.
62. Galatians 2:21.
63. Jeremiah 29:13.
64. John 8:32.
65. Galatians 2:4.
66. Galatians 5:12.
67. Isaiah 49:18.
68. Joe Crews, Colorful Cosmetics and Jewelry, (Baltimore, MD.: Amazing Facts, Inc.)
69. Luke 15:22; James 2:2; 1 Peter 3:3, J.B. Phillips.
70. See George M. Lamsa, Old Testament Light, (San Francisco, CA.: Harper and Row, 1964), on Exodus 33:4,5.
71. Ezekiel 16:9-14.
72. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc, 1976).
73. Exodus 31:16,17.
74. Ibid., 14, 15.
75. Charles Wittschiebe, God Invented Sex.
76. E. White, letter 167, March 23, 1900.
77. E. White, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, page 604.
78. Matthew 11:28.
79. See William Barclay, The Letter to the Hebrews, First Edition, (Philadelphia, PA.: The Westminster Press, 1955), on Hebrews 4.
80. Romans 10:4. See Strong's on "end".
81. Matthew 24:14.
82. Hebrews 2:3.
83. John 3:36
84. Matthew 6:15.
85. Luke 23:34.
86. 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
87. Colossians 1:14.
88. Philippians 2:6-11.
89. Titus 3:5.90. Romans 1:17.
91. Ephesians 1:13,14.
92. E. White, The Review and Herald, June 17, 1890, quoted in Selected Messages, Book 1, page 315.
93. Ibid., page 314.
94. John 5:24.
95. 2 Corinthians 5:6.
96. Philippians 1:21.
97. 2 Corinthians 5:8.
98. 1 Timothy 6:16.
99. Romans 6:23.
100. 1 Peter 1:16.
101. E. White, Gospel Workers, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1915), page 315.
102. 1 John 4:1.
103. Ephesians 4:13.
104. 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:11.
105. 1 Peter 5:8.
106. John 16:33.
107. Zechariah 4:6.
108. Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20.
109. Matthew 5:6.
110. John 14:6.
111. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NIV)
112. Romans 16:26; Ephesians 1:9; 6:19.
113. Revelation 3:18.
114. Isaiah 64:6.