Devotional: August 27th
This past weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to visit with the good folks of the Bainbridge (OH) Church of Christ, a former ministry of mine. Bainbridge provides some bittersweet memories for me. It was my first legitimate full-time ministry. The reason I say legitimate is because the White Oak Christian Church in Bath County, Kentucky, was supposed to be a full-time ministry but it was based on the men of the church hiring me out during the week to make up what was a definite short fall in pay. But back to Bainbridge.
As a minister I am supposed to be friendly, understanding, loving, sincere, forgiving and, to a certain extent, gregarious. Going back to Bainbridge my wife and I talked about the people we would see again and how some of those meetings would be difficult. I was criticized while at the Bainbridge church for such reasons as not waving at someone's son as he passed me in his car while I was driving. Folks who thought their comments and who made them had never reached my ears were probably going to look me up and talk to me like we were best friends while I was there. I told Becky that we needed to concentrate on the positives. Quietly, while we were driving to the church Sunday morning, I prayed for an opportunity to be positive.
When we pulled into the parking lot at the church building, Eddie and Berniece McGowan were getting out of their car. I don't know who was more excited to see who. By the time we had made it to the door we were met by Thelma Stanley who couldn't wait to hug us both and to tell us just how much she had missed us. She told me that her husband, Popeye, had gone on to be with God. Thelma was still Thelma; one of the sweetest and kindest friends a person could ever want.
Once inside the building we saw Mack and Marcella Donahue. Mack will turn eighty this year. The reason I know that is because we share the same birthday and he is twenty-five years older than me. Mack and Marcella filled us in on the people who wouldn't be there. There had been a lot of deaths in the twenty-nine years since my departure. A lot of good people had gone on to their rewards from the Lord. Ann Cliburn, Ada Newland, Gusty Stanley, Dan Ford; all people whose lives radiated God's love. They were active right to the end.
God had heard their cries even as He had heard David's. "Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails. O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me." Psalm 71:9, 17, 18 Far too often our churches look upon age as a burden which restricts a church. I was happy to see that the Bainbridge Church of Christ looked upon the aged as an anchor in the bedrock of the church's foundation; a strong reminder of where the church came from as it looks ahead to its future.
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