For years I had lived my life for illicit sexual experiences. Sex had become a deeply rooted idol in my heart, a stronghold of the enemy. Although I was genuinely excited about Christianity, my newfound faith seemed to evaporate in the face of those temptations. They came with such force that my intentions to withstand them simply withered. This was so unexpected and happened so quickly that before I even knew it I was "being carried away" by my own lust. (James 1:14) I went down to the bookstore and gave over to sin.
After it was over, I left in total disgust, stunned by what I'd just done. It was unbelievable that I had walked right back into the old pigpen of perversion. "Lord, I never meant for this to happen," I wailed. I really wanted to live the Christian life. Because it had taken so much to even get me to the point of making that commitment, I had no intention of going back on it. So I couldn't understand how this had happened. I chalked up my failure to the fact that it came so unexpectedly and determined that it would never happen again. Yet, a few days later, the same scenario occurred. My complete inability to fight these urges left me terribly discouraged. Sexual sin became a looming mountain in my mind. I could not envision ever being able to scale that lofty peak but knew that going back was not an option either.
Fear of Kathy leaving me kept me from confessing my failures to her. Things were going well between us, but I knew her commitment to me was still fragile. Something like this could easily send her over the edge; so I dared not let her in on what was going on. This began a double life of secret sin and Christianity that would constitute my life for some time. I would white-knuckle it for a period and then fall flat on my face once again.
One day, a tall black inmate who had been working in our clean up crew told me the Lord had given him a "word" that he should share with me. "The Lord showed me that you will be quitting the Sheriff's Department and going into the ministry as a teacher," he said earnestly. I politely smiled but didn't take it seriously. I had "sweated blood" for that job and had no intention of leaving it. The whole conversation was forgotten within minutes.
The weeks evolved into months as I learned to adjust to being a Christian deputy. My relationship with some of my old friends became strained. They didn't care for the new Deputy Gallagher. They wanted me to be the aggressive officer they had come to admire. I began avoiding their company in favor of deputies who were more laid-back: men I had detested as wimps prior to my return to Christianity.
One evening, I tried sharing the Lord with the guy who had been my best friend. He became angry and told me to leave him alone. It really hurt me and I was upset all that evening. For the first time I entertained thoughts of leaving the department. The next day, I happened to listen to a Chuck Smith message on tape. The subject of his sermon was finding God's will. Since that was what I was contemplating, I became very attentive. During that talk he said, "If you feel God is telling you to do something, then do it and don't look back. Don't let others discourage you from obeying God's call."
Now God really had my attention. I spent the rest of that evening praying about it. That night, I came home and shared the whole story with Kathy. "Wow, that's exciting," she responded. We discussed it at length and decided that I should put in my two-week notice and we should plan to move back to Sacramento. My mom's Assembly of God church ran a Bible school I could attend.
I gave my two-week notice the next day. Word quickly got around that I was quitting and immediately several of my old friends confronted me.
"Gallagher, what's this we hear about you quitting?" one of them challenged.
"Yeah, it's true, I am," I responded.
"Because I feel the Lord is calling me into the ministry."
"Into the ministry!" They were laughing now. "How did He call you into the ministry?" they asked incredulously.