– by Rick Hoover –
It hasn’t always been that way. I haven’t always lived the life that I should live. You might have thought that I’ve been saved forever but I’m not the perfect catch that you might have thought I was. It took a lot of prayer and, I’m just going to speak from my heart, it took a lot of prayer and plenty of it. But it cost something also. You want to know what it cost? It cost my wife many nights alone on her knees praying that God would do something in my life. Unselfishly she got down on her knees because she knew what God had in store for me. I didn’t have a clue but she did. Sometimes she’d be discouraged – you could see it in her face. Personally, at one point — I got to be honest with you — I didn’t care that she was discouraged, but she always had faith that her God was and still is a faithful God. We can ask anything in His name and that’s one of the keys., we just need to ask, we can’t just sit around and ‘let God’ – He wants to know what we want. So I’m here now serving the Lord and Oh what a God, I tell you.
She would play an Andre Crouch song, “I don’t know why Jesus loves me.” Being a musician from years back – it had kind of a bluesy feel to it and I liked the music to the song. I would block out the words pretty much but every time I would drive into the driveway – she’d click in the eight track (that’s how long ago it’s been) and it would be cued into that song and I’d hear “I don’t know why Jesus loves me.” I’d think, “okay – yeah” and then pretty soon the words just kept going through my mind and I’d think, “yeah I don’t know why.” At any rate, she did that for a few years and pretty soon I began to get the message to the song. Don’t ever forget: it makes no difference what it is, it could be a spoken word, a song, a poem – it could be anything – whatever it is keep doing it because there’s going to be results at the end.
Let me tell a little bit about myself growing up. My parents both drank quite a bit and I remember spending many nights with my sister in a bar waiting for them to say ‘last call’, because after that we got to go home. At 7 or 8 years old we spent many a night in a bar or being left alone at home into the wee hours of the morning until they returned home and when they did there was usually a fight of some kind. Nobody was safe in our house. There was a lot of drinking going on and a lot of abuse. But God had His hand upon me throughout this whole time. I used to tell myself that I’d never drink – but I did.
Let me tell you something about my parents here; I did paint kind of a rude picture of them. Both of them have gone home to the Lord!! And I’m positive; I know for a fact that they are with the Lord today. About three years before my mother passed away, she accepted the Lord. We led her to the Lord when she lived with us; she had no choice, she lived with us, she had to be saved or move – not really, but that’s what happened. The last thing she said on her last breath – she looked just to the right of me and she said the name of Jesus – very loudly, very audibly and she had a smile on her face from ear to ear. She then went back to a resting position, folded her arms and quit breathing. It hurt to see my mom do that but I rejoice because I know she is not suffering anymore and I know where she’s at.
My dad, about three weeks before he died, accepted the Lord. We were at Kingman, Arizona where they lived and I was very close to leading him to the Lord after we had a heart to heart talk; we were just about there when everybody came home and it was just the wrong timing. The enemy tried to spoil things, but God. After we left he called my aunt and uncle who live in Claremont and he said to my uncle who’s saved, “Uncle can you come here to Arizona? I want what you and Rick have.” He knew he was dying of cancer and he always had a problem with the virgin birth but, praise God, he didn’t have a problem with it then. He went home to be with the Lord three weeks afterward. So I know exactly where both of my parents are. Their upbringing wasn’t the best but their out coming was great.
Going through that kind of an upbringing taught me an awful lot. Again I always used to tell myself that I would never drink and my wife can attest to that. Growing up, I do remember a little Baptist church at the end of my street that I used to go periodically and even at a very young age, I knew that there was something different in church. I still remember the pastor’s name even though it’s been quite a few years – Pastor John. He’s probably with the Lord right now and God bless him, he’s got a legacy, a lineage of people that he’s led to the Lord and I really thank God for that.
I did good in school until about the 7th grade and then, like most teenagers, I got smarter than anybody else and I really became kind of a rebel and that preceded me into high school so then I had a reputation to protect — but God had His hand upon me. I learned to play guitar when I was little because if we weren’t in a bar, we were either at our house or some body else’s where they would play honky tonk music and sing and drink – and that was a way of life. I learned how to play guitar and I learned a lot about drinking then also – I didn’t drink then but later – but again God had His hand on me; He had a purpose for that. At about fifteen years old, I formed my first band called, “The Illusions” and thus launched my music career and God still had His hand on me. He knew what was going to happen. I was prophesized over years before that the Lord was going to use me in music – in the industry or in Praise and Worship in church and I thought that there was no way that this could happen but it did happen, Praise God.
Anyway, I was 19 before I became a churchgoer again and I only came just because of my wife and her family and it was the thing to do. The Pentecostal movement scared and upset me. It was nothing to be sitting in the pew and waiting for their whole thing to get over with and they’d give an altar call and someone would say, “Come on, brother, you need to be saved” and drag you up to the altar. And I’d think, “Oh, man.” So I’d go through the ‘Okay I’m saved thing – hallelujah, praise God, Oh I feel so good.’ And it was a game for me – I tried not to let it happen but it became a game. Anyway I really felt out of place with her mom, dad and her but I did go out of respect because I loved my wife to be. We were finally married in December, 1967 and all was fine until she got re-saved, she had been unsaved for a while, she didn’t do anything bad, she just got unsaved and then got re-saved in 1968. I wouldn’t keep her from church but I just wouldn’t go at all because it wasn’t for me – I had some things that I needed to take care of. I stayed faithful to some extent to my admission not to drink but I did a little bit.
And then a big turning point in my life happened on July 9, 1970. Kathy’s brother was working for me – I had hired him. I told him to go do something in the back and when he did, he got electrocuted. He went home to be with the Lord that day. I tell you, guilt riddled my body and my mind. I could not handle it anymore and so in order to drown my sorrows, I took up drinking and became an alcoholic, a very good alcoholic. It would only take me a couple of drinks to get drunk again because I was like a wet sponge; I had so much alcohol in my system. I still maintained a job, a career. I still maintained a family life, somewhat. I never drank at home but I was never at home, you know, very, very seldom. I’d come home drunk, go to sleep, get up, go to work, and get drunk again etc.
Our marriage went into a violent tailspin at that time, I’m talking real tailspin. Drinking, violence, infidelity, abuse – mental and verbal. I even went to the lowest point that I’ve ever been when I told her that I didn’t love her, as a matter of fact, I said, “I hate you.” — with a very clear voice looking her straight in the eyes. I almost killed her one night. I’m not proud of this but I think it needs to get out. I picked her up with one hand when we were in a violent argument and held her against the closet in the hallway until she turned pretty much blue and I made a decision – should I keep her up there or let her go. To me it wasn’t worth it to keep her up there so I let her go and I walked out and I kept walking. I took all my clothes, everything. The only thing I can think of at this point right now is BUT GOD and I thank God and I thank God for that song, “I Don’t Know Why?” because I don’t know why he saved me except for His love and that’s the kind of love that we need to keep. Even though we were at the very end of our marriage as a couple, she never gave up. She finally told me that she wouldn’t preach to me anymore (She wouldn’t really preach to me —she would just tell me things like you need to go to church, you need to stop drinking, you need to do this, you need to do that and I’d say, “yeah, yeah right, you know just don’t bother me with that stuff because I know I’m in control, I know what I need and it’s not to go to church.”)
She told me that one time when I got down to zero to ask God for help and He’d be there to help me. That’s how much faith she has in our Lord and she had faith enough to tell me that without a shadow of a doubt when I got down to zero all I had to do was call upon the name of the Lord and I would be saved. That’s scriptural, call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved. Well, I thought, “Wow, she’s not going to preach to me anymore – I won’t have to listen to it anymore and maybe I can get her to be unsaved again.” On Christmas in 1971, an ironic thing happened at a Christmas party at work; being an alcoholic, guess who they made keeper of the drink tickets – that’s smart, right? “Okay! One for you, three for me, one for you, four for me.” Anyway, I got drunk as usual and, you see, this guilt thing kept going on and I couldn’t release it, I tried everything I could — except for God. I couldn’t release it from my life and, being drunk as usual, I left the party unannounced and I just got in my car and left.
I went home and was preparing to end my life. And I came real close to it. I was in the dining room of my house in the southeast corner, I remembered the words from my wife and it kept going through my mind just like that song “I Don’t Know Why” and all I heard was, “When you get down to zero, just ask God for help and He’ll be there.” Now you got to understand, I was a knee-walking drunk, I used to drink double shooters of wild turkey with a V.O. press for a back drink. I was a serious drinker and I was drunk, believe me, I was drunk. I was in the corner of the dining room on my knees and I said, “God, if You’re for real or Whoever You are, cause I don’t know, I’m confused, I don’t know, but if You’re for real, I need help, not tomorrow, not yesterday, I need it right now.” I still remember that. Just that quick I was as sober as I am right now. It scared me and I began to weep and I accepted the Lord that night and I have not looked back since. Thank you, Lord.
Since that time things have changed. My wife reminded me of a Gaither song, “Something happened to Daddy, He got saved.” My son was 2 years old at the time. God has done something in my life. He’s done something tremendous in my life. That’s why when we sing that song, “Look, What the Lord Has Done” and I watch Marilyn (I watch you people all the time when we’re ministering up here), I get blessed. There’s some songs that you can just tell cause people to release everything — “I’ve Been Delivered,” praise God. I love to watch people get blessed because they’re thankful that they’ve been delivered, they’re thankful that there’s been a change in their life.
If you’re praying for someone today – someone in your family, you need to be persistent in your prayers. It can’t be a hit and miss thing. I make it a point that if I say that I am going to pray for you, I’m going to pray for you right now because I don’t want to forget and I don’t won’t you to miss out on a blessing. Whatever it takes – if you say, you’re going to pray for someone, do it – pray for them right then and there. And be persistent about it. Praise God.