My father left our family when I was a young boy, and my mother remarried shortly after. I was an angry lad, mad about something nearly every day – for what reason I did not know.
I attended Sunday school between the ages of four and seven years of age and learned of God, Jesus, and faith, but after that I received no spiritual influence – no church, no Bible study or reading. Nothing.
One day in high school I learned about Darwin’s theory of evolution, which appealed to me because I tend to look at things analytically. I have always wanted to know how things work and what their purpose is. I would take things apart just to figure out the answers to these types of questions. I would ask “Why?” to everything. The phrase “because I said so” was the answer given to most of my questions, but I just knew there had to be a reason for everything, so again I would ask “Why?” For years my friends and I would argue about our beliefs and about how humankind actually came to be. I myself didn’t believe in a supreme being. I didn’t look up to any one person or have any heroes.
As life went on, I joined the military, got married, worked, and became a homeowner, all by the age of 27. I felt by then it was time to become a father, to start my own family. Even as a child, I had always wanted to be a father. Because this desire was so strong, on our very first date I asked my future wife if she wanted to have children someday. She responded with a “Yes.”
My wife and I had met in Germany. She had given up her life there to come with me to California. Yet as her new career took off, her desire to have children began to fade. I sensed the shift and eventually sat her down and inquired directly if she wanted to have kids. This time she answered “No,” which I felt was the beginning of the end of our marriage. I was reminded once again that for me nothing good seemed to last for long.
I felt we had a strong marriage, so I agreed to give life with no children a shot. But after three months the realization hit me hard: the one dream I ever had was shattered to pieces, gone for good.
I became extremely depressed and went on an eight-month binge of drinking and drug abuse to distract myself from the pain within my spirit, a pain I had never felt before. I would sit alone in my garage for hours contemplating my life, the choices I’d made, and where to go next.
For most of my existence, I’d had a deep intuition that I was meant for something more, as if there was something I was supposed to be, somewhere I was supposed to go. Something was missing deep inside of me. Could that “something more” be fatherhood or was it something spiritual?
With fatherhood off the table, I began to look to God for answers.
Only now as I write these words do I see how the Lord was watching over me and easing my pain. A childhood friend of mine gave birth to twin boys, and I began spending a lot of time with them. My friend even stated one day that she could see I was getting my “desire to be a daddy” need met by spending that time with her boys.
I still needed answers though, so I turned to my neighbor, a pastor. I demanded that I be taught the truth, not someone’s diluted interpretation of it. My neighbor was biblically well educated. His home library boasted volumes of theological material complete in several different languages. He was the first to lead me to pray to ask Jesus into my heart and life.
A few more years went by, but sadly, evil still dictated most of my decisions. My depression deepened and I began to cheat on my wife. I was at a point that I didn’t even care if I lived or died. Eventually after 18 years of marriage, my wife and I divorced.
I met a woman named Teri, and we started to spend time together. After about eight months, she became pregnant with a daughter we would name Reubie. I was thrilled with the prospect of being a dad, but at the age of 38, my life was starting over again, only this time I had a girlfriend and daughter to support. And both Teri and I were unemployed.
Blessed with a beautiful girl, this time I set out on a truer path. Instead of trying to make it on my own, I looked to God for guidance. Grant you, none of this was easy, and for years we struggled. My past would invade our new life now and again, making me doubt my choice to follow Jesus.
One day my brother invited me to his church, Restoration Open Bible Church in Bay Point, California. There I met Steven Magoon, a pastor whom I felt wanted to teach nothing but the truth, the Word of God. Teri and I, now married, began attending services regularly. I learned how to pray even though I still had not read the Bible for myself. I started to see blessings from God in my life, but I didn’t feel fully committed to Him.
After learning about water baptism, I wanted to take that next step, but for some reason a few more years passed without my going through with it. It must not have been the right time for me. Nonetheless a couple of weeks before Easter of 2019, Pastor Steven informed me that he was going to perform baptisms for those who were ready. I was excited and fearful at the same time. I began to read up on the subject so that I could completely understand what it meant to be baptized, to commit my body and soul to God. When the day finally arrived, I was as excited as a kid the night before Christmas. I know I had been saved before, but until the water ran off my face, I had never really “felt” saved. I arose from the water feeling completely new and free. It was a wonderful, joyous moment indeed.
About the Author
Reuben Lundvall III works for the Alameda County Environmental Health Department as a vector control biologist. He lives in Pleasant Hill, California, with his lovely wife, Teri, and beautiful daughter, Reubie. His pastor, Steven Magoon, said, “Baptizing Reuben was the culmination of a heart being transformed by God. The reality of Jesus in his life is unmistakable as he leads his family and others towards Jesus.”