Day 32: Up at 6, chores, breakfast. Clyde comes by and we have a good conversation. Next I unload the wagon and drive to church. In town, I stop beside a very nice looking church and speak with some ladies in the yard. I need a shady place to park Reba, and the good ladies tell me to pull her into the church yard and park her under one of the trees, which I do. The church service is vibrant and uplifting, with good singing, a baptism, induction of ten new members, and lots of happy children. As soon as the service ends, we’re all standing in the pews, shaking hands, and the man behind me presses what I assume to be a twenty dollar bill into my hand, and I said “oh sir,” shaking my head, but gratefully, and promising to put it to good use (I thought it was a twenty, but it wasn’t – more on this later). In the fellowship hall (in the church basement), a kind lady and her husband invited me to dinner, but I graciously refused because it would be very hot by the time we got done, and I needed to get Reba out of the heat. However, I really wanted to speak with the pastor before I left church, but he was very busy on that Sunday, as one can imagine with all that going on. Things were dwindling down, we were out in the church yard, and sensing he had been avoiding me a little, I asked where I could find him, and learning that he would be in his office, I started back in for the door, but no sooner had I, than he came out. Thus standing in the shade of a tree on the walk, I courteously spoke in no uncertain terms, straight from my heart.
After church, I go to Casy's quick shop to get ice, and while walking across the parking lot, I reach in my pocket and pull out what I believe to be the twenty dollar bill the man in church gave me. I litterally stagger and stop in my tracks, for it is not a twenty but a one-hundred dollar bill! I look up to heaven with graditude, and my eyes are nearly watering because it is needed, although I do not want ot make a habit of accepting it, and in fact, I shouldn't need any more "donations" to complete this mission.
While driving my wagon back to camp, I realize that speaking with the pastor had been God’s plan for me in Lyndon all along. Yes, God had worked it out perfectly. He had worked me into a state, just a little desperation added in with determination, so that I was straight from the heart. And He had worked it out so that the pasture got to hear me at the last, not at the onset with so much business before him. And while I can’t know God’s mind, I feel certain that God knows that pastor [candidate] has the potential, as a tool in His hand, to lift that church up, but not without understanding the people of rural and small town America. There’s a reason why faith is strong here in rural and small town America – we have a bond – and we should not be ashamed of it, for if we are ashamed of it, than we are ashamed of the gift that God has given through the faith, hard work, and sacrifice of our forefathers and mothers, whose great example is His way of showing us how to keep our blessings. If I could liken our blessings to a “cup that runith over,” it would have been filled by way of our forefathers and mothers who put themselves in God’s hands like vessels to build this land. The temptation to drink from our cup without care for the story of faith that filled it could be great for any Christian newcomer who does not know, feel, and appreciate our bond (we want them to know and feel our bond, that they may share in the joy of it!).
Note: When I talk about small uni-cultural communities, I understand that these communities may have a few families living among them who are of different ethnic backgrounds, and they accept those families, and that is perfectly fine – they are still uni-cultural communities. But I reject the “one world super-culture” ideal. The super-culture thing was tried in the last century by the Germans, with loads of socialist enthusiasm, and tremendous money making opportunities for the capitalist – and we all know what happened - it led to mass destruction. And here we are, every day growing more dependent on a system of mass destruction. We are not Christians by words alone, but by acts. Let us not drink from our cup of blessings without doing what God deems necessary to refill it.
There are many things I’ve done wrong in my life, but this one thing I have got right – I heard his call, and turned to follow. I gave up a thriving business that I built from scratch (and my ex would say a wife too but that’s not true). I gave up my financial security. I gave up so much to be here, writing these words to you. In Burlingame, my old friend Mark was upbeat when he visited me, but I could tell he was worried because he had never seen me so worn or thin. And yet I’m alright, and in fact I’m more than that. When Jesus said we should put on His yoke, He did not mean it light in a worldly sense, but in a spiritual sense. We can do the hard thing, and because it is the right thing, we are right in our souls (and often in our bodies too). You do not have to give up so much, I am not asking that. God has a plan for you - it’s between you and Him. I only ask that you read my message, and make a place for it in your heart.
After church, Clyde and Ardis bring water for Reba, and melon and cake made from scratch for me, we have a good conversation, and depart with well wishes and words of thanks. I then do chores until about 7pm when as planned, I go with Frank to see his wagons. Frank doesn’t need my message, he knows it already without ever reading it - he’s just a very special old timer who God wanted me to meet, and whom I am blessed to know.
I return to camp at dark, do a few chores and hit the sack.
Reba lays down to sleep in bed of hay, during
the heat of the day, in Cyde's park,
the heat of the day, in Cyde's park,
Lots of shade, and with a nice breeze,
why not stretch out?
why not stretch out?