Christian by Birth–Baptist By Choice (Part 6)
It Was Simply the Best of Times
Do you know how you can sometimes look back on life and say that those were the best of times. Those years in that tiny apartment were some of what I consider the best years of our lives. We had nearly nothing, but we were extremely content with the Lord and with each other. The things that the world around us places such enormous value and importance on meant nothing to us, and we were happy. It didn’t mean things were easy, but in the difficulties we faced, incredibly, we had incredible peace.
In addition to each other we had been adopted into an amazing church family. To this day many of those people I consider dear and close friends. Even though the years and following God’s call in our lives has put miles between us they continue to be precious in our hearts.
People like Doug Murray who spent countless hours keeping my car running and charged me nothing more than the fellowship of time spent together. Although there was a lunch, I recall, once at a pizza place, that produced some memorable conversation and chuckles. Then there was also one of the funniest of memories we share when my wife found a bag of soiled undergarments and, wanting to be helpful, secretly laundered and folded them, then returned them to him. He is probably still laughing about getting those nice, bleached white, underpants that he had been using as shop rags in the garage.
There are dozens of names and faces that I remember with great fondness. We were only there for a few short years, but the lessons and love we experienced at Freedom Southern Baptist Church in Nutter Fort built the foundation for our lives in ministry.
Another benefit was that I spent a lot of time talking with and serving along side of the pastor. We made visits, went to lunch, studied scripture, and occasionally I would fill-in for him to preach. Our families played games together and watched movies. The more I got to experience the closer I became to following Christ in ministry.
Pastors are People Too
More than anything, getting to know Ed and his family (the good, the bad, and the…well you get the picture) made me realize that serving Christ and being a minister wasn’t about whether I was perfect or worthy, it was about the fact that Christ was worthy of my service, and through His death and resurrection I had been made perfect. Unlike my perception of the ministers I had known before Ed was real…he had bad days sometimes; he and his wife squabbled at times; His kids weren’t perfect—almost, but just shy (right Sam and Amy). We grew close, and God in His grace and wisdom would keep us close for the next several years.
Stretching and Seeking and Growing
One of the things that God did shortly after we surrendered to ministry was to lead us in starting a weekly ministry at a nursing home. We would go every Saturday morning and lead the residents in singing and I would share a message. It gave me a chance to stretch my ministry wings, and it provided an opportunity to study, prepare, and preach sermons every week.
We had many opportunities to have our faith tested and stretched. To be honest there were times when our faith was shaken. The interesting thing about that was that when my faith was struggling Andie’s seemed the strongest, and when she was struggling my faith was greater. We were learning to depend on Him and on each other.
God provided for us in simple, yet miraculous ways. With very little of our own we were incredibly dependent on God. One day when we were not sure how we would eat or pay our rent a surprise package was delivered to our door with enough groceries for a week or two and a check that was exactly what we needed for our rent. Another time I was about to check out at the grocery store when one of the men from the church and his son got in line with me and told me that the Lord had told them to pay for my groceries. It was incredible because we were having to choose between food to eat or gas for our car.
The simplicity of those days is something I continually long for, but I know that they were days of preparation. In the Scripture there is a story of God telling Elijah to go and stay out in the wilderness at the Brook of Cherith. God miraculously provided for Elijah’s needs there, and I just imagine that being a time of preparation in his life for the things God had in store for him. (1 Kings 17.2-4)
If you had told me at that point what the next fifteen years would hold I might have turned and run like a scalded dog, or told you that you were crazy. It’s for that reason that God doesn’t give us all the details, He simply calls us to follow Him. If we will trust Him and follow Him we can live the adventure with Him. I can’t imagine now, looking back, ever wanting to miss this journey, potholes, curves, and all.
More to Come Soon
I will take you on the adventure of moving yet again as we kept following God in the next step on our journey in the next post. He’s about to show us again that He has a strange sense of humor and that He is sovereign over all things, and worthy of our obedience and worship.
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