My Dad was an alcoholic. He was a Harley riding, hell raising kind of a Father. I remember early on at the age of ten or eleven at a flea market he bought a pipe for me to smoke marijuana out of. It was about one of the last times that I saw him. So, fast forwarding about five or six years later, I’m seventeen years old and I find this letter. We were told never to go into my Mom and step-Dad’s bedroom. I had to go so bad that I ran through there and I guess one had got knocked down off of the shelf of her dresser. I saw it was addressed to me. I thought; “what is that?” I picked it up. It was from my Dad. He had been writing me. I had always idolized him. I remember early as a boy he would come into our neighborhood in a trailer park where I lived in Gainesville Florida riding a Harley on a wheelie. All of my friends were enamored by this Evel Knievel sort of Dad. But in this letter, he described how his life had changed. He had met this Jesus Christ who had transformed his heart and his life. I thought man, my Dad has finally gone crazy, I didn’t know anything about the Christian story or the Christian faith. I idolized him but was confused about this faith and yet my heart wanted to know Him. At the end of the letter he said; “I want to come see you at Christmas.” So I announced to my Mom that I had found this letter which she had confessed that he had been writing me for quite some time. I said; “Mom, I want to get to know my Dad and I want to spend Christmas with him.”
So, I remember my Dad picking me up and this was my first opportunity to be with him in about five years. We pulled over at one point and I had actually before he came to get me, I went off with a buddy of mine and we got high. Then I got back home in time and got my gear and my Dad’s picking me up. He is this new Christian. I’m trying to figure this thing out. We pulled over on interstate ten in Florida and he said; “Let’s have a traveling prayer.” I was like; “A traveling prayer? What is that?” I remember it felt like, man my Dad is weird. He has lost it. So after the prayer, he said; “Would you like to drive? Have you driven a stick shift before?” I lied. I had never been in a stick shift before. Plus I had just gone off with some friends and gotten high. I remember getting off the ramp and he said; “Robert, you can slow down now.” I got panicky and so I was pressing down on the gas pedal instead of the clutch and the break and we’re going faster off the exit ramp. Hit the median in between the four-lane area, flipped the car up sideways, went across the other two lanes of traffic and then finally the car landed back down and went down the interstate on the other interstate ramp area in the grass. My Dad finally got his foot over and held down and brought the car to a stop. He looked at me and He said; “That’s why we had traveling prayer.” I remember for the first time in my life I felt conviction. Because He looked me in the eyes at that point and he said; “Robert, God saved our lives.”
I had never ever even considered a God of the universe. But for the first time the Holy Spirit convicted me as to the authenticity that there was this Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me. And it wasn’t but a few days later on December 23rd that I would say “yes” to Him.
My Dad and I have had an opportunity over the years to develop a wonderful relationship and he has been a mentor for many years. He has since passed but he has left a legacy of faith that changed my life. His letter and then God’s love letter changed my life.