Yes, I said negative, but it's all in the science.
Go to the kitchen and grab the biggest and roundest bowl you have. Oh, you're going to need a marble or a ball too. Turn the bowl upside down and put the marble on top of it. Now give the marble a little nudge and you will see that the ball goes over the side, down the slope, going faster and faster in an exponential fashion. It's out of control. In science, this is called Positive Feedback. The marble has run amok.
Now turn that same big round bowl the right way and place the marble on the top of the inside rim. Let go of the marble. You will see that the marble goes all the way down and then partially back up the other side, and then back down, again and again, with each trip being exponentially shorter than the previous. Eventually the marble comes to rest at the bottom. This is called a Negative Feedback Loop and it's a self-correcting system. No matter where inside the bowl you start the marble at, the marble "wants" to seek stability.
So anyway, even though my oldest sister, Janet, attended a parochial Catholic school, I personally did not have the slightest clue about the concept of God. I knew that some people went to church and there were certain formalities involved, but beyond that I didn't know enough to even be curious. This is rather strange for me because I want to know the "why?" of everything everywhere.
My teenage introduction to the mere concept of Christianity came one summer vacation in the form of my gorgeous neighbors Jennifer and JoEllen Kratzer. I was sweet on Jennifer and my best friend Allan was sweet on JoEllen. Their family lived their faith but that didn't matter to me because "Christian" was just a word all of my guy friends used to make fun of them with. Looking back, I see it as the initial planting of tiny seed of my faith. I saw them praying together and I wanted to know what that was all about. The sad thing though is that I didn't ask them directly, I asked another school mate and he used that discussion as a way to invalidate me in Jennifer's eyes. But, I digress. I soon forgot all about it anyway.
God apparently had other plans though.
My senior year drafting instructor was Jim Kenney and he most certainly deserved the teacher of the century award. There was just something about him that gave me a sense of peace. If you truly wanted to learn, he would do everything to make it possible. One day I was at his desk when he opened the top drawer to get something and I noticed it was completely filled with some funny looking little red books. I asked him what they were and he said "I can't tell you." It was public school, after all. Seeing how he had so many of them I decided to be brave and ask him if I could have one. He wouldn't hand one to me but he let me reach over and take one. The title read "New Testament & Psalms Proverbs" and it was published by the Gideons. Reading bits and pieces, I found some of it to interesting and some of it to be quite boring. The picture on the left is the very one he gave me 36 years ago.
Months later, I didn't know where the notion came from but I realized how I could cuss like a sailor and that it would be a good idea to stop. To help me with this, I decided to punish myself by forcing myself to read a chapter of that little red book every time I cussed. I can't say that it worked to that end but it did give me a better sense of decorum, and more importantly, it convicted me about misusing the name of my God.
Score one for Jim and Jesus.
My kick in the butt in world of faith came via another school friend, Glen Olin. He called me up one day and during our conversation he joked "I'll bet that if we show up at church, ole Bonnie Porter will have a heart attack." Game on! Next Sunday we both showed up at the Willits First Assembly of God Church. Thankfully, Bonnie did not have a heart attack but she did take us out to lunch. Newtons Third Law! On the following Sunday, we tried it again, and again she took us out to lunch. Eureka! Week three and yet another person paid for our lunch. Jesus = Free Food!
Well, the free food came to a halt at week four. Glen stopped coming but I felt the need to continue.
During that same period, I was introduced to Darlene Wall, the mother of my friend Kurt's then girlfriend, Michelle. Darlene loves Jesus with all her heart. Sitting at her house, I would even hear her ministering to people who called the wrong number on the phone. I was just amazed by this. A group of us were constantly at her house. It was like a half-way house for renegade sinners and saints.
I can't give a specific date but one night I decided to go to a Wednesday night service at the Assembly of God and sitting there during prayer the stone cold realization came into my head "Wow, I actually believe all this shi*!" That was it. A single honest, poignant, and retrospectively humorous profane epiphany. That was the moment I asked Jesus into my life. If you are as confused about how it can be so simple, let me break it down to you. The Gospel is simply this: Jesus will forgive all your sins if you come to Him humbly, lay down at His feet and know "You're the Lord and I'll follow you the rest of my life on Earth so that I can have the rest of eternity with you and the glory of your Father." It's that simple.
I think it was about a year later that I decided to get baptized at the First Baptist Church of Willits.
Since that day the world has shaken my bowl with the marble in it many times and I have been up and down the side of that bowl more times than I can count, but Jesus is a self-correcting Negative Feedback loop and He is always guiding me back to the stability He provides.