Read an Excerpt
In My Steps
By Bob Clapp
Abbott PressCopyright © 2013Bob Clapp
All rights reserved.
From infancy to my teens
My first introduction to Jesus came from my mother. She was a woman of great faith, humility and love. She was well respected in our community as a woman of God. All of us six kids were taught the stories from the Bible. She would pray with us every night as she tucked us into bed. During the day we would often hear her singing a hymn, sometimes it was in rhythm to the old wringer washing machine.
Mom did not have an easy life. She was married to a man 16 years her senior and he certainly wasn't the easiest man to live with. In spite of their many differences and difficulties they celebrated over 50 years of marriage. Mom grew up in Arkansas with her 8 siblings. She had 4 brothers and 4 sisters. Her dad sexually abused the 5 girls. As a result most of them left home at an early age. Mom was 17 when she married dad and she had only known him for two weeks. Apparently she seized the opportunity to get away from a dysfunctional home.
Dad grew up in central Illinois in a farming family along with his two brothers and two sisters. Dad didn't take to farming, but loved hunting, trapping, fishing and the great outdoors. That caused conflicts with his folks who wanted their boys to be active in agriculture. At one time his mother even had his older brother take his much loved hunting dogs out and shoot them. Like mom, his home life was such that he also left home at an early age. After two failed marriages and at the age of 33 he ended up in the middle of Arkansas where he met, wooed and won the hand of mom in marriage. They came back to Illinois to make their life together.
It was the years of the Great Depression and because of the hard times they lived for awhile with grandpa and grandma. While living there my two older brothers were born. Sometime before I was born they had moved a couple of miles NW of Oakland back in the woods. My mom shot squirrels off the roof to add to the meals. Dad continued the rest of his life deeply in love with hunting and trapping and some years he made his living from his quarry. He also worked hard as a mechanic. The depression put the squeeze on lots of folks and they were no exception. When mom told dad that she was pregnant with me he had four words for her: "Get rid of it."
Ever the faithful and obedient wife she tried. Abortions were not the easy fix in the 30's that they are today. She tried all the tricks of the time to no avail. I guess I refused to die, or more accurately, God kept me alive. She felt terrible that she had tried to kill me. Forty years later she told me of that experience. "I felt like you were no longer my son. Since I had given you up, I believed God had taken you up, and I knew from that day forward you belonged to Him in some special way." The Scripture in Psalms 27:10 seems so appropriate "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me." I knew nothing of her commitment when years later I felt the calling of God on my life to preach, but now I understand. Jeremiah's words in Jer. 1:5 became real to me: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
I have no memory of living in the country. When I was two we moved into town to a house on the North side of Oakland on a dead-end street. Over the next 10 years 3 more siblings were born, two boys and one girl. Although we bordered on poverty we were a happy bunch and hardly noticed the inconveniences. We boys followed in dad's footsteps and brought rabbits, squirrels, quail, pheasants and fish to the dinner table. However, in spite of mom's attendance to our spiritual growth we often indulged in our share of misbehaviors.
A cousin took me and a neighbor girl under the house and taught us the pleasures of sex before we reached school age. Such promiscuity became all too common over the ensuing years as me and a brother "played" with a neighbor girl almost every day. Again God stepped in and brought an end to our behavior as we neared puberty. Those were the days before TV and every night we listened to an old radio after we had gone to bed and turned the lights out. One night there was a program about venereal disease among young people. If it was meant to scare kids out of promiscuity it worked. I wonder if the neighbor girl ever figured out why we suddenly stopped coming around to see her. We went for several days scared out of our wits, believing we were either going to die or go insane from our misbehavior. Finally one day my brother got the courage to ask mom what venereal disease was. I don't know to this day what all she said, but I walked away confident we were okay. If she had known what we had been up to she might have talked a different story, especially since one girl did end up with syphilis shortly after.
Perhaps it was the withdrawal from sex with the neighbor girl that led to my next sexual sin. A school-mate seduced me into a homosexual act. Again I believe God stepped in and caused a couple of things that kept me from pursuing that life-style and sin. First of all we did not come to a climax, but there was enough pleasure that I sought to do the same with another class-mate that I thought might be interested. I was wrong and he laughed me to scorn. The deep embarrassment of that experience put and end to any more desire in that direction. Homosexuality is a sin. The Bible condemns it. God calls it an abomination. "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them" Levi. 20:13. Just because we feel a desire for something does not define who we are. We are a fallen race and during a life-time we will feel lots of strong desires that are not right. God warned Israel about "intense craving" back in Num. 10:4 "Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving." Wrong is wrong no matter how much you may crave it. Right is right no matter how little interest you have in it. As fallen creatures we need our standards to be set by our Creator, not by our desires and interests or the pressures of a perverted fallen society.
Mom dressed us up and marched us off to Sunday school and church every Sunday at the local Christian church. We learned right from wrong and that Jesus was more than a baby in a manger. We all learned that the ways of God were worth pursuing and we all became believers in Jesus Christ in due season. One Sunday during my junior year I walked the aisle, took the preacher's hand, repeated the sinner's prayer and was baptized. Although I don't believe I was saved on that occasion, it did put a desire in me to seek the Lord and His will for my life. It would be another seven years before I would make the surrender that saves. But I was started in the right direction.
Shortly after that experience we celebrated the Junior/Senior prom. I was a junior at the time. A half dozen of us boys didn't have dates. After the meal we left the dance and took off for a nearby town to pick up some alcohol. We picked out the oldest looking guy to go in and buy us a bottle. I was sitting by the window in the front seat on the passenger side. As the bottle passed across the back it was handed up to me and I passed it to the guy in the middle without taking a drink.
"Hey Bob, aren't you drinking?" he asked.
"Nope" I replied.
"Why not?" they all echoed.
"I joined the church last Sunday and I don't think I should."
The guy in the middle said "Well if you're not, neither am I" and he passed the bottle to the driver. "Well if you two aren't, then I'm not either" and he passed the bottle to the back. Of the six guys in the car only one ended up drinking that night. Isn't it amazi
Excerpted from In My Steps by Bob Clapp. Copyright © 2013 by Bob Clapp. Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.