Duckworth, My Testimony, My Life
I don't have any memories from age
5 back. Maybe that was God's way of protecting me. I'm told my mother
battled several bouts of depression during that time.
About age 7 my parents divorced. I made a decision to stay with my
father. I don't know why, I just did. I had weekly visits with my mom,
usually on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
I don't know why, but about age 8 (actually Nov. 3, 1968, according to
Mom's Bible) I was at church with my mom. During the invitation, Mom
asked me if I needed to be saved. I was going to be a tough little boy
and said no. But next verse, I had my mom's hand and said "Mom, I do
need to be saved". I don't remember, the date, and had to look it up
for this page, I don't remember the sermon. But I remember the place,
and what happened in my heart.
My life from that time was pretty uneventful. Except for dad's two
marriages, mom's marriage, two major surgeries for myself, and all the
other stuff that life throws at you. Through high school, I pretty much
had just a few friends, most of whom to my knowledge were pretty
"straight", no drugs, alcohol, etc. Just cars, trucks, normal teen age
Then, after high school, my life started a downhill turn. I went to
college, and met up with a whole new group of friends. I started
drinking. In fact I got to the point I would stop at 7AM on the way to
college and get a beer to start the day. Then, I met a girl, and we
started doing marijuana. I did some speed and other drugs too.
That relationship ended and I wound up working in a night club. Became
a bouncer. Got to the point a few beers wasn't enough any more. Started
doing the "late night" clubs where liquor was sold. And usually came
home (most of the time) plastered. My life was pretty much out of
Then, a course of events happened that devastated me. My grandmother
started getting advanced dementia, and my dad and I had to put her in a
nursing home. One month later, my dad died of a massive heart attack. I
can remember that night. We had went to bed around 10PM. Dad was up 20
minutes later, and had a hold of the door frame trying to "stretch a
cramp out". He described it and I knew what was happening. I knew I
didn't have time to call for an ambulance, so I drove him to the
hospital. He walked in under his own power and told the nurse "I think
I may have had a heart attack".
I had to sign some papers, and they let me go back in the emergency
room to see him. I'll never forget his last words to me. "It's OK son,
I'll be OK." They told me they were taking him to ICU. As they rolled
him down one hall, I paralleled them down another, and as I looked
across, they started running with him. I was alone. I'm an only child
of two only children. I called the only person I thought might could
help, my grandfather, Rev. Carl Beck. He came, and brought my other
grandmother and my mom. We prayed, and then I was told, my dad had died.
Let me interject something here. I worshiped my dad. We had become
close friends. We bought cars together. We collected guns together.
And, sometimes, we drank together. As a small child, before he and mom
divorced, I can remember us all going to church. Then, after the
divorce, he took me and my grandmother to church, and then came back
and got us. As my dad passed that night, I did not know if he had went
to heaven or not. I found out later that my grandfather Beck was the
one who had led him to the Lord, and had baptized him. I also found out
from one of his friends, that about two weeks before he died, he had
evidently repented, and the friend said dad was reading the Bible,
instead of a newspaper at work. I understood why Dad said "It's
OK son, I'll be OK."
Well, all of the sudden, life hit me square in the face. Here I had a
funeral to plan, and a grandmother in a nursing home to see after. I
figured I would straighten my life up. I got the funeral behind me, got
the legal processes started regarding dad's estate, and the care of my
grandmother, then started a job driving a school bus. I stopped drugs
and alcohol, and started going to church regularly. Pretty good huh?
You see, I was a Christian that wanted God to see what I was doing for
Him. It was "look God, I'm in church, I'm staying sober, and I even put
a dollar in the offering today". I don't think God was impressed.
For a couple of years, I occupied my time driving a school bus, and
fishing. Then I met a lady, and got married for all the wrong reasons.
Trust me, physical reasons are not enough, and will not hold a marriage
together. We stayed married 5-1/2 years, and maybe went to church 5
times. Then, the marriage broke up. There was some infidelity on her
part, but my part of the breakup was worse. I failed in my duty as a
husband, father, and man for what God expects. I was faithful
physically to her, but I was not faithful to God.
I moved in with Mom. It was Saturday. I knew that I was going to have
to go to church with her the very next day. I also knew she had been
requesting prayer for me. And, my grandmother Beck, who had
Alzheimer's, had been requesting prayer that I would get off drugs and
alcohol and get back in church. True, I wasn't in church, but I had
been off drugs and alcohol several years. But, I guess I'd just deal
with it when I got to church. So that Sunday morning I went.
I went to Westview Baptist Church in Athens Tennessee. My grandfather
was music director, my mom pianist. Something amazing happened that
morning. I knew a lot of folks there. But they didn't look down on me,
or try to avoid me. No, they shook my hand, said "Glad you're here, we
know you are going through some tough times, let us know if we can
help." And they sincerely meant it.
You know, I had already made up my mind that Monday afternoon, after I
let the last child off my bus route, I was going to kill myself. I had
it figured out. There was a huge bluff off the side of the road, and I
figured if I got going fast enough, and unhooked my seat belt, when the
bus crashed, it would throw me through the windshield, the bus would
roll over me, and my troubles would be over. I went to church on Sunday
morning with that in my mind.
But, I went back Sunday night, not because I had to, but because I
wanted to. I have no idea what the preacher preached, all I know is
when the invitation was given, I had to go to the altar. And God met me
there. I had to do business with Him. My first question to God was
"Have I ever really been saved?" He took me in my mind back to the
place where my Mom had asked me if I needed to be saved. And He
confirmed I was. Then, I told God how sorry I was for making a wreck
out of my life, that I had nothing left to offer Him, but if He would
take me back, I would do my best to do anything and everything He asked
me to do. He did, and I have.
I read the Bible and studied for hours each day. I wanted to know where
I went wrong, and God showed me. I repented even more if I needed to. A
few months later, I began to teach Sunday School. Then, sometime later,
my pastor asked me if I would "preach" Wednesday night, as he was going
out of town. Me preach, you have got be kidding! But he insisted. So, I
prayed. I was scared to death. But God gave me a sermon, and I preached
it. And I did several times after that. I started playing bass guitar
in church. I started singing in the church quartet when someone was
out. I started singing solos. And I STILL DO TODAY!
Then I met a wonderful lady named Jean Veach. We began dating (first
date was in church) and then married only a few weeks after we met. We
are still married today, still going to church every time we are
supposed to, and minister together. Has life been easy? NOPE! But it
has been GREAT! Sure we have had struggles. We both now have health
problems, and I am disabled. But, with God's help. we plan on being
together, serving God, "till death do us part".
My life represents how out of control a life can get if you don't do
the things of God you are supposed to do. But, it also represents how
loving God is, how "long-suffering" He is, and how His amazing grace
extends to us. Yes, God does love us, and wants us for His own. I am
glad that He is mine, and I am His! May God bless you!