It was eighteen years ago, when my wife brought in the mail one day and noticed a mailer from a new church planning to start up the next Sunday. The timing couldnít have been better. We hadnít found our church home and desperately needed to find harmony in our spiritual life, together. Different backgrounds and upbringing had thrown up obstacles in our path at every church we had attended. So, we were certainly open to trying another one, especially one like the brochure described: ďCome as your are, leave your wallet at home, no pressure to join, with biblical answers for everyday problems.Ē We did come together spiritually, and since the church was brand new, there were opportunities to get involved left and right. Sometimes, you can feel Godís hand moving your life in a certain way, and for us, there was no doubt that He had sent that mailer and we were finally where He wanted us. Our hearts and minds were in total agreement for the first time since we had been married twenty-one years before.
Being the first to be baptized in our new church home was a vivid memory, but there were so many others. Our entire life revolved around the traumas and tests that came almost on a daily basis with the growth of a brand new ministry, and we were partnered with our pastor and his dream, as if it were our own. It had been a lonely place, being on the outside of Godís plan, full of doubts and cares, and we had spent too many years there. But thatís what made it so sweet, knowing the peace, the fulfillment and the confidence that many never receive the grace to experience. We gathered many times as a small group in the pastorís home or at ours, always with burdens to pray about, and not having a clue how to solve. Yet, they were unexplainably remedied each time. We had expectations of what the outcome would be, but rarely did it work out that way, especially when a life was lost without warning.
That was the hardest thing for me, even though we were all together that evening when the call came. My heart sank to the bottom of my soul when I heard the words my brother spoke over the phone. My mother had passed away from a heart-attack. There were three amazing memories of that night, everything else is a blur. Our pastor, Keith, is a big man with the heart of a three year old, and his arms enfolded me as if God Himself had stepped down and become one of us again. No words were spoken, none were needed. Earlier in the evening Keithís grandmother had pulled me over to the couch and we were having a most unusual conversation about her poems. She told of these marvelous dreams and writing down her memory of them. They were mostly about her family and the Lordís grace in leading them all to Him and some into the ministry. But the one she chose to recite to me was the one about her homecoming when she finally reached her home in Heaven. It was spellbinding listening to her describing the streets of gold and the crystal sea, but especially seeing the joy in her eyes when she told of the reunion with her loved ones. It was at this time that the phone rang.
There was a third person, and the most important, who held me up that dark, desolate night. She has stood with me through the sunshine and the rain, the freezing nights and the unbearable heat, through sickness and health, without want or without anything. When she should have left, she didnít. When I wanted to leave, I couldnít, though Satan, himself, offered the world. Through it all, my wife, Carolyn, and I learned to trust in Jesus, we learned to trust in God. Satan may have sent that phone call, but God sent his comfort through three loving messengers. Keithís grandmother has now had her homecoming and has certainly talked with my mother about that night. I can only imagine how happy that would have made Mama. Keith is still our pastor and we just opened another, larger, sanctuary last Sunday. Does prayer work? Well, my wife and I just celebrated thirty-nine years of our joint venture, or should I say, adventure. And it certainly has been that. More to come.