Sharing

Jim walked out of the room and down the hall to the elevator, ‘what to do now’, he thought as he recounted the last two hours and the certain coming death of his dear lifelong friend. It had been so sudden, a couple of weeks ago and they were at a ball game together cheering their favorite team, now his body was broken, and life was closing. As he rode the elevator down and then walked to his car he remember the great moments they had shared and the dreams that both of them had when they were young men.

He was going to be a congressman and his friend a banker. Well his friend made it, all the way to president of their home town bank, but his journey to Washington never came. He gave it a bit of a try once, but the waters were rougher than he had expected and he stayed with his father’s company and there life had been good to him. Some dreams became realities and some; well some were just bad dreams.

Jim drove home with the tears on his face; his friend’s wife had just asked him to say some words at the funeral. So much he could say, but why would it matter now, time had run out and he couldn’t change that with words. He recounted a number of events, replayed trips, secrets, sad moments and joyful ones, how would he choose, what would he say?

The day came and Jim stood erect, well dressed, and with a reasonable composer looked out at the church filled with those who cared and those who wished to share these last moments. He begin very softly, “We made a covenant when were ten years old that we would always be friends, that we would share all the good and all the bad in both of our lives, I believe we each lived up to that covenant. Of the thousands of thing we shared two are outstanding and those I will forever remember  and those I must share with each of you.

We had chosen different Universities to attend and one night in our junior year I heard a knock on my door and there he stood, as handsome and smiling as always. He said to me, “Jim I drove the fifty miles tonight to share with you what I did about an hour ago. I was attending a worship service on campus and tonight, just a while ago I gave my life to Jesus; Jim I had to come and tell you, I had to share Him with you.” He shared with me that night and I too became a follower of Christ. Those two events changed both of our lives; we shall now share not only this world but the Heaven to come because of those two events.

I always wondered how many people he shared that story with; I never asked him but I am sure he must have shared with others; will there be others with us? Jim heard the movement of feet and saw as twenty and more people stood throughout the church, His friend had done well, really, really well.

Published in: on March 5, 2015 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Let Me Ramble

I left my sister’s funeral in Tupelo and made the fast two hour drive back to Jackson, TN for the burial. I wanted to get there before others as my nieces had asked me to take care of the service at the grave. I had time to go through downtown Jackson and see the blackened runs of the First Baptist Church gutted a couple of weeks ago by a fire, then around the corner of Main and Liberty where the old beggar sat in the wheel chair in front of F.W. Woodworth and Company when I was a boy. Both the beggar and the store are now gone, replaced by a beautiful new city hall building. Downtown is no longer the shopping district of Jackson but the legal and government center of the city and county.

After Carole and Sandra arrived at the cemetery the next person I met was a friend from Lindsey Street, Bill Rowell. I am not sure how long it has been since we have seen each other, he had read in the newspaper about the service and came to share with me in my goodbye. Bill and I had played a lot of ball on Lindsey Street, sometime in the vacant lot next to Johnnie Barber, and sometime in the middle of the street. He reminded me of the days we had run through the fields behind our house and played in my dad’s shop among all of his tools and arrow heads.

It was both joyful and tearful to see Bill and to think that he would come out to see me after all these years. He said that I had come by the funeral home about twenty years ago to see him when his mother had died, I remember but only on his telling me. Strange and sweet how the moments of the long ago come back to flavor our old age; I am thankful for friends like Bill.

My two cousins, Ruth and Carolyn where there, the three of us are all that is left of my grandparents grandchildren. My son Vann came over from Memphis, Becky and Fred, my sister Alice’s daughter and her husband were there with their daughter Shawn and others who knew the girls and Peggy came up and we had a wonderful service of remembering the joy of Peggy’s life and the touch she had with all who knew her. Cynthia, Julia, and Beth, the three daughters had a number of friends from far flung places to come and join with them, these were moments that will never be repeated, for they are moments of time and time does not stay it moves and moves.

About 20 of us raided Perkins, ate, laughed, and remembered. It did my heart so much good. The time will never be repeated but the memory will never be forgotten.

As Carole drove me back to Nashville I sleep like a small boy with the wonders of Lindsey Street dancing through my mind. I am a blessed man.

Ivan

Published in: on March 4, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

In Memory of Peggy

The Final Call Came

In memory of my sister Peggy who died in March of 2012

Peggy’s daughter Beth called this morning to let me know that Peggy had left the Baptist Hospice House for the home prepared for her in glory. The stick people did not come, she knew her loved ones to the very final moments, praise God for keeping the stick people away. Peggy leaves a lovely family, wonderful life, and many blessings planted in the lives of others. She was a faithful wife, mother, and child of the King. Her presence will be missed in the lives of those of First Baptist Church in Tupelo where for all of these many years she has served as Librarian. No way to count the thousands of books she has put into the hands of others as she served her Lord in His calling. With these she touched their lives and with herself she served her Lord. Peggy brings to a close the list of my sisters and now the Raley’s of Lindsey Street are down to one. My memories of our young years are warm and wonderful and my thanksgiving to my Lord for allowing me to visit with her last Wednesday overflows. We remembered the young years, prayed over the current years, and promised to see one another in the coming years.

I love you Peggy, see you in glory, thanks for all the moments. Tell the 246 South Lindsey Street group, Hello.

Sonny

Published in: on March 3, 2015 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Discovery

Jim was locked in a wheel chair, he could take care of none of his needs and life seemed so depressing to this once large and vibrant man. I would visit with him first at his daughter’s home and then in a nursing home and he would always seem so depressed, even angry and sometimes demanding and one might even say mean. I tried to talk with him but it made no progress and ended with my feeling depressed that I had even made the visit.

I really searched my heart and tried to discover some way to get through Jim’s darkness and despair. Putting myself in his circumstance made me realize that I might react in much the same way. Just two years before a company of several hundred people depended on his leadership, talents, and hard work. Now not even his body could respond to any wish.

I remember it was on a Thursday that I went by with my first wish; “Jim”, I said, “I need your help, I have the names of five people, one on each of these five pieces of paper, they are very sick and as far as I know unready for death. Now I realize that you cannot speak or visit with them, but Jim I need someone to spend some real time praying for them by name and I was wondering if you would take these five pieces of paper and pray each day for one of them. Maybe you could assign each to their own day and pray each Monday for one and then do the same each of four other days.”

I could see in his eyes that he understood me, he looked at the names as I placed them on the table beside him, then pointed to a couple and looked at me saying in his rough way, “I know these, bet they need a lot of praying. Don’t know the others but if I find the time I might pray for them.”

I left and returned to visit with Jim two weeks later. The nurse met me at the door and said, “What did you do to Jim? After you left last week he wanted to take a bath and insisted that I push him down to the chapel. Each day he has done the same thing and he stays in there several hours. He has not had one complaint and even hugged his daughter when she visited on Sunday.”

To cut to the chase Jim had discovered a new mission and new meaning in life. Locked in that chair and body he still had a purpose, a reason for each new day and a desire to complete his task. Jim lived long enough to pray for about 30 people and to know that six of them had been saved. He lived long enough to see his daughter in a new light and put himself into a new picture; when he died more than a dozen people told his daughter and me that they would miss him, his smile, his joy, his dedication to the task. Jim discovered what all of us need to know; that we have a purpose and make a difference.

Published in: on March 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Remembered

I Remembered

I took a bucket of hot water, mixed it with vinegar and mopped by sun room floor today. It is the brick floor that use to be our patio. I did it twice and it still looks dusty, but then I remembered the homes in Belize that only had dirt for a floor and was thankful.

The last time I was in Jackson I stopped at my families graves and saw how brown the grass is and how the leaves are everywhere; then I remembered Goma, Zaire and the more than 2000 people buried in one unmarked grave, and I was thankful.

It seemed like it took five minutes for the hot water to arrive in the bathroom this morning; then I remembered heating my hot water in a black plastic bag on the roof of our building in the Congo, and I was thankful. My bank account looks like the disaster that it is but then I remember the men who worked for $3 a day in Rwanda and how grateful they were to receive the $3; and I was thankful.

I think maybe much of the way we feel about life and so many of the comparisons we make need to be received by the circumstance that life has handed us before we can make a wise decision. In fact I am certain that if we lived just one day in another part of the world our morning here would be a delight and our joy with things would be so much more. I think, in fact I know that we are a bit spoiled, no very spoiled. The other day I waited almost an hour to see the doctor, but I can remember that in Belize, Central America people would line up before dawn and wait all day to see a doctor. Also I remembered that they had walked several hours to get to our make shift clinic and were thrilled that a doctor would take their blood pressure and listen to their heart.

When I remember I am very thankful that I live in America.

Published in: on March 1, 2015 at 8:46 pm  Comments (1)  

Where Is Jasmine

Sir Lawrence of Arabia and his band of raiders were returning from days of battle crossing the hot blazing desert with their water almost gone. Someone in the group said, “Where is Jasmine?” Another replied, “Who is Jasmine?” Still others reminded them that he was an Arab who had joined them a few days back. “Maybe he is lost in the sand storm.” Cried one. “No, another replied, there is his camel and there is his rifle.” The group chatted and another said, “Maybe a sniper got him.” Still another, “Expect he went to sleep and fell off his camel.” “What does it matter” one called, “Jasmine was weak of body and mind, so let it be.”

It was then that Sir Lawrence turned, instructed his men to continue toward the camp and he went back, tracing the path from which they had come. There almost dead in the blowing sand he saw Jasmine. Sir Lawrence gave him what remained of his water, placed him on the camel and made his journey back to the men.

Someone called, “There is Lawrence and he has that fellow Jasmine.” It is said that Sir Lawrence had many faults and failures, but the welfare of his men was not numbered among them. Even a Jasmine, weak of body and of mind, was worth the long journey to rescue.

So it is that Jesus made that long journey from Glory to Calvary because Ivan was weak of mind and body, lost in the blazing sand storm of life, and even Ivan, not worth the journey, was come for by the Master with His love and life giving water He placed me on his shoulders and brought me home.

(From a story heard long ago when studying about Sir Lawrence and told now in my own words.)

Ivan

Published in: on February 26, 2015 at 11:09 pm  Comments (4)  

You Help Me

You Help Me and I Will Learn

I once pastored and coached some street boy in basketball. They really took to me and me to them. They wanted to know if they could get uniforms so I went to the store purchased shorts for all of them and then got some matching shirts and ironed number on the front and back.  I let them choose their numbers, to them it was like getting a new car, man they were happy and I was in heaven.

They really took to coming to church, they even came on Wednesday night and there they would be on the front row looking at me like here we are tell us something. The first time they attended on Prayer Meeting night I was asking for prayer request and then I called on one of my men to lead in prayer. His name was Jack. Well before he could start praying a boy on the front row named Jack looked up at me with fear but also determination in his eyes and said, ‘I don’t know how to do that but if you will help me then I will learn.’

That was one of those heaven on earth moments. I smiled and explained to Jack that there was someone else in the room with his name and it was that man that I was asking to pray but I told him how proud I was of his willingness and told him to listen as the ‘other’ Jack prayed and he would begin to learn.

After our older Mr. Jack got through with his prayer and we got through wading in the water provided by all of our tears because of the bravery, innocence, and desire of our ‘new’ Jack I explained to him how great a kid he was and how I knew that God had sent him into that room to teach all of us how to pray. That was a moment you let God write in your heart and when you are old it pops to the top and becomes a joy of life that makes a dull day sweeter.

Ivan

Published in: on February 25, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Comments (2)  

I Told You So

I Didn’t Say “I Told You So”

In my high school summers I worked in a boy’s camp for our State Baptist Convention. These were six weeks of exciting events held in camps near Newport and Linden, Tennessee. We always had the weeks filled with sports, swimming, and a little bit of class room time built around our conventions mission program. The week I speak of we had a dear lady, I thought she was about seventy, but thinking back she was more likely to have been in her 40’s. She had spent a number of years in Nigeria and we were looking forward to the week with her showing all the items she had brought with her as well as the pictures of the wild animals of the jungle. Our only glitch with this dear missionary was that she insisted in sleeping in the barracks with the boys. We explained how much nicer it would be for her to be in the staff house, how she could rest better, have more time to herself, and when none of this worked we explained that we would have to close one of the two bathrooms on the floor where she stayed for there were no facilities for ladies. She considered this but insisted that she needed to bond with the boys and let them see that she was real and she was sure that losing one bathroom would not be that troubling. Thinking back I believe it had been a long time since she had lived in a building with a hundred and fifty nine and ten year old guys, but at last we gave in, put a sign on one of the restroom that it was for ladies only, gave her a room on the first floor and settled in for a week of less than comfortable quarters since her room should have held a counselor and six boys. We got the boys to bed on the first night and all seemed to be going great, the place was spooky quiet with only the snoring of the counselors to be heard. About two in the morning one of the nine year olds decided to go to the rest room, half-awake he stumbled down the hall and entered her bedroom, seeing the white sheet she had pulled over her body you can guess what he thought it was, so close up to the bed he started to complete his task. Do you know how quickly the screams of a missionary from Nigeria can wake a barrack of boys at two in the morning; well let me assure you it is less than three seconds. The boy involved vanished, can you blame him? It took several of us about thirty minutes to quiet her down, get her dressed, packed and moved to the staff quarters. I understand she never made such a request again as she visited camps for the summer. It was a bit disturbing that the young man involved had a fear of Urines for the rest of his life, but well, I tried to warn everyone, but I didn’t: No didn’t say “I Told You So.

Published in: on February 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Last Leg

Last Part of the Last Leg

He was sitting in an old rocker smoking his pipe and looking across the room at all of his tools and the work in progress. I asked how he was doing and what was moving and he smiled and said he had almost finished the bed. I could see the head board, foot board, and several legs; the beautiful walnut wood was gleaming. I told him it looked pretty complete to me and he said, needs another post, got three but need four. I told him how beautiful it looked and stood one of the legs up beside me, it was six feet talk, spooled, and polished with the touch of an artist. “Better get that last one done” I said, “you might need a place to sleep when you wife finds you out here rocking.” He smiled, pulled on his pipe and said, “Been working on that thing for maybe five years, forgot to count, got two of the three section of that last leg done, but not sure about the last one. What am I going to do when I finish it?” There seemed to be a serious concern in his voice and in the question. “Sleep in it,” I said, “put it up in the house and make it a gift to that beautiful wife of yours.” “Been sleeping in the same bed with her for more than fifty years”, he said, “might not like a new one.” “I know she will love it.” I responded, “It will be a great gift to her and each part of it reflects your good work.” “You know I always thought I would die if I ever finished it.” He answered, “Not sure why, just believed it was my last work so I have been putting off that last part of that last leg.” I smiled, he smoked the pipe and I started to leave. He said, “Boy do you want it?” I turned and said, “No sir Mr. John, no sir, I had rather have you around rocking in that chair and dreaming of that finished bed, no sir, just keep on polishing on that last part of that last leg and someday you will know when to put it together.”

His wife and I put it together a couple of weeks after she buried him, I think she still sleeps in the old bed and just shows the new one off.

Published in: on February 23, 2015 at 11:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iwo Jima

On this date in 1945 five Marines and one Navy Corpsman raised the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima; John Rosenthal took the picture which has become the most famous of the Second World War. The monuments around the country are made from that famous moment captured by Rosenthal.

Sergeant Mike Strank the leader of the group and the oldest at 26 died on that bloody island on March 1, 1945, Harlon Block also died on that date, and Franklin Sousley died on March 21, 1945. The other three men Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian, Rene Gagnon, and Corpsman John Bradley survived the battle and returned to the United States as heroes of the battle. None of them considered themselves heroes; they all spoke simply of doing what they were told to do.

The battle planned for one week lasted five, 6,800 marines died, more than 20,000 others were wounded. The Japanese lost 18,844 of their 22,000 men. This was the only battle in which the American causalities were greater than the enemies.

These almost seven thousand men who never came off of the rock of blood and bodies paid the ultimate price for the freedom which you and I enjoy and take so for granted today.

America is the greatest country in the world, there is no argument about that and that greatness was grown from the lives of young men who never knew real adulthood, who died as boys because their country needed their sacrifice for our freedom.

Let us deserve their sacrifice, let us pass on to those who follow us the dreams and hopes of those boys less we dishonor their payment for our privilege.

Ivan

Published in: on February 22, 2015 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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