I kind of dropped off the face of the earth for a couple of weeks. I have had so much on my mind, but nothing I could write down. The only verse that would come to me is, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Even my husband quoted it to me when I spoke to him about all that was going on in my mind. Sometimes, you just have to wait and listen.
My father recently resigned the church he has pastored for the past 27 years. My grandfather was the founder of this church and pastored there for 19 years. I don’t know how to put into words how deeply affected I was by this. I am very happy that my dad is answering God’s call into evangelism, but I am still in shock. Our ways are not God’s ways.
I have spent the last two weeks reflecting on this. I have driven several times to the church to just pray. It is kind of like losing a childhood home. Many things have changed over the years, and while I have been gone almost 13 years now serving God alongside my husband (who is called to preach), my heart has never left this special place.
In spite of all the changes, my childhood prayer spot still exists. I used to sit on the steps and porch of the old building which is now the youth building and pray and daydream about the future. The porch was seldom used then since the doors to the upstairs were usually locked even during services and the lower doors were used almost exclusively. Large bushes were planted on either side and I was as secluded as I wanted to be. This spot had changed from my childhood hide-and-seek spot to my own special place of prayer once I grew a little bigger. I would look down across the big hill which led to the river and beyond. My life goals formed in that place. There used to be a wooden sign down the hill from the front porch with a large cross in which as a bored child roaming the property, I would pick off flakes of mint colored moss/lichen. Behind the building was a rusty, green metal box we called the bus box which I believe was used to deposit bus keys in the past. During my teenage years, it remained unlocked, and unused, except by me when I used to leave notes secretly to my friends inside. The newer building stands changed very little from the time I left. I knew every nook and cranny, and even had hiding spots planned out in there if a stranger were to come while we were working at the church during the week. The building made such scary, creaking sounds when it was empty and the lights were off. A child’s imagination could run wild.
I often hear about what a great man my grandfather was and how he had built such a wonderful work for the Lord from his living room. It seems like every older person in this area I encounter has a wonderful story about him. However, I remember the work of a different man more intimately. When my grandfather died, my dad took the church. I called him Rev. Daddy just as he had called his dad. I remember hospital calls that came in the middle of the night. I remember visitations, building projects, study time, brainstorming, revivals, college classes, bus routes, and all of the other activities that filled my dad’s time, and as a result, mine as well.
Dad and mom never made me feel too young to serve God. As a child, I would stuff the pews with offering envelopes and church pens. Our old pens with the metal rings were easily taken apart and a launching device could be made from them. This required lots of cleanup especially from the pews in the back of the church by the sound booth where the teens congregated. I remember my dad picking the design of the green and cream-colored tracts that still line the racks today. He wanted something personal to our church, and when he switched to new plastic pens (that could not be turned into a weapon), which read “I (heart) my church,” he had the hearts printed bigger because he really loved our church with all his heart.
Soon my job went from stocking pens and offering envelopes to correlating papers for business meetings, creating and photo copying VBS flyers, and cleaning. I loved to help. I also often sat with my grandma and watched her on the piano and she would show me things after church. She would copy music for me to learn and I would sometimes sneak and get into her music not putting things back correctly. I got to start helping in classes and was given my own class at 15 or 16 years old on Sunday evenings. Visitations were fun and I got to tag along with a number of ladies who helped show me how to minister to people and tell them about Jesus. Mom and I had our own van/bus route. She let us kids be the bus captains while she drove. She would take us to pass out flyers and we would invite our friends to church.
Memories from VBS, teen class, Kings Kids Club, church camp, and church picnics all flood my mind and I could never contain them all in one blog post.
As I look around today, I see the same people still faithful to their ministries. Many of my Sunday school teachers still teach the same class and there are choir members who still sing in their same place. Their faithfulness speaks volumes. I love seeing new faces, but there is something special about the familiar faces. It’s a little piece of my childhood that has not changed, and I praise God for people who are still letting their lights shine. Faithfulness is not something we see much of today.
As I look to the future, I pray for this church, the people in it, and my dad who will now blaze a new course in his life for the Lord. I am praying also for God to make clear the paths for my family. I am also so thankful for the wonderful memories that were formed at this church, and for the people who helped shaped me into who I am today. It is difficult to accept change, but time touches almost everything. I am so glad that God gave me such a wonderful childhood among so many people who made me feel loved.
I am more thankful that in the midst of all the changes in store for us in life that Jesus never changes.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”