He’s old, though I’m not sure how old. His voice is a bit soft and I’m straining to hear. The microphone turns up and I breathe deep in relief. I didn’t want to miss it. 1969. That’s what he said. In 1969 he found Jesus.
Right there, where he heard truth, he bowed his knee low before the Creator.
“My wife,” he began and then stopped. His face was joyful but the words are still painful, even in good times, “she is in a nursing home now. Waiting for the day she’ll be called to her true home.” Then all pain slips away and he’s smiling. “And we’ll both be going. Right to heaven.”
And his song begins. The guitar picking, the piano playing, the words filling the sanctuary. It’s the story. 1969 and the gospel message and a surrendered heart.
“We are now the children of the great I AM,” he sings, “my wife and I.” And their journey past and the journey present and the glorious future all melt together.
A little while later another group takes the stage. Their words echo.
“I’m so glad that he loves me-
He bled and died on Calvary.
In my place he suffered where I should be
God has been so good to me.”
A whole string of sisters. Smiles that fill and bloom. Voices glorifying the King. Light shining bright.
The pastor steps up. I know him but he doesn’t know me. Every Sunday morning he’s there in my barn. In fact, he invited us to visit, just last week.
So we came to the little church with deep blue carpet and oak benches and white lace valances in the windows. Where the people smile bright and their testimonies shimmer. And we’re blessed to meet them.
We’re indebted to them, you see. Their Sunday morning services broadcast through our county via our local radio station. And there is a boy, the one who calls me Ma and is part of God’s redemption in my life, who listens. And the only Bible teaching he ever receives is on those Sunday mornings. And my mother-heart sings is thankfulness when his questions leak out around my kitchen table when he stops to visit.
The pastor begins his talk this morning. His words of life’s frailty and uncertainty and how brief it really is. And then the drops of living water that splash through.
“This isn’t all there is. This isn’t it.”
“I never think people will die, but they do. And that’s why Jesus came.”
“God knows exactly what each of us have done and he offers salvation.”
“He came to save my miserable hell-bent soul.”
Beauty that make my heart tremble. Hope that burns brilliant.
“We’re here to help Christians grow in grace,” he says, “and to tell the old, old story of how Jesus died on a rugged cross to set us free.”
It’s the truth I know deep in my bones. It’s echoing again. And my soul dances.
We stay for a meal, down in the church basement, where the mashed potatoes pile high and there are too many kinds of pie to count. And we talk and laugh and I’m wrapped tight again in the grace that connects believers, one to another.
Do you take time to visit other churches, besides your own? It is rare that we are able to, with worship leading and Sunday School teaching, but whenever we get the chance we love to slip away to a new place that tells the same old, old story and meet the brothers and sisters we’ve never known.