Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)
TITLE: Invincible Joy
By Kathryn Presley
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Thankfully, I had praying grandmothers in Oklahoma and God began drawing us to Himself. Our landlady took me to Sunday School in an old stone church near downtown Galveston. There, I met Gideon, Daniel, David and other Bible heroes. Later, I’d ask my mother to read those stories to me and the Bible began its powerful work in our hearts.
When my father came home drunk one Saturday night, Mama decided it was time for action. Next morning, we donned our best dresses (homemade from feed sacks) and set out to find a “church home.” There had been no church at Wild Horse Creek, just occasional brush arbor meetings in the summer. Now, we rode the bus around the island each Sunday, shopping for a Church. None of them felt right, somehow. Finally, only one remained–the largest church on the island, occupying an entire city block. One Sunday, we timidly approached it, circled the block a few times, caught the bus and returned home. The next Sunday, we started around again, like Joshua circling Jericho, but this time an old deacon intercepted us. He took me to the primary department, then guided Mama to a basement room where Mrs. Agnes Eichlitz taught the T. E. L. class.
Mrs. Eichlitz was a plain woman until she taught the Word and then her face glowed like the face of Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai. The most prominent women on Galveston Island attended her class: doctors, lawyers, teachers, business women My mother sat on the back row, a timid little country woman with front teeth missing and only six years of formal schooling. But none of that mattered much as she heard the good news that God loves sinners, and sent His Son to die for our sins so we might have both abundant and eternal life! Each week she moved closer to the front, taking notes on a Big Chief pad. No good teacher can resist a hungry heart and soon Mrs. Eichlitz came to our tiny apartment, gave my mother a reference Bible, and taught her to use it.
Sleeping on a roll-away bed in the kitchen, I often woke to see my mother at the table, beneath a bare electric light bulb, her lips moving as she looked up cross references and jotted notes in the margins. We both made professions of faith and were baptized together--my father came along later. By then, we had enough money to return to Oklahoma and buy a small farm. It was a poor piece of land, floating on a pool of oil, (which we discovered much later.)
While still a new Christian, Papa drove into town during a spectacular Oklahoma thunderstorm. God seemed to speak through the thunder and my father rolled down the car window to throw away his whiskey, cigarettes, chewing tobacco and Copenhagen snuff "in one fell swoop." Later, he was ordained a deacon and worked with my mother to establish a mission church in our community.
Mama taught the ladies' Sunday School class for 35 years. In my memory I still hear her down in the chicken yard, practicing the lesson on our chickens. (My father said our Domineckers knew more about the Bible than many deacons.)
Considering my family's transformation, I've never doubted the Bible is a powerful book. My parents taught me to search it daily for commands to obey, sins to confess, examples to follow or avoid, and promises to claim. Sixty-six years after my parents and I chose to believe God, to receive His free gift of salvation, I can truthfully say, “there hath not failed one word of all His good promise.” (I Kings 8:56 KJV)
I’ve seen those promises fulfilled in my family to the second, the third, and now the fourth generation. I don’t mean material blessings alone, though we've had plenty of those, but in the peace that passes understanding, strength for the battles of life (we've had our share of those), and luminous joy independent of circumstances. Jeremiah said it best: “ Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. . . .” (15:16 KJV)
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