08 October 2009

Young Hearts at 201 Years Old ~

Now before you jump to any conclusion, I am speaking about two lovely Christian ladies who have served the Lord Jesus Christ faithfully for many, many years. I was associated with these beautiful ladies for some 29 years while serving as the preacher for the two congregations where they are members.

I speak, first of all, of sister Gertrude Jones who is a member of the congregation in the city of Opp, Alabama . I met sister Jones when the family and I moved to that city in 1971. This sweet lady endeared herself to my family because of her kindness and gentleness. We ate in her home during gospel meetings with the visiting preacher and on many other occasions. She loves our children very much. Even now she will ask about them. Sister Jones informed me of her sister who was bedridden and asked me to visit her which I did regularly until her death. This act contributed to our closeness because she was so thankful for my doing so. Sister Jones was always busy visiting and helping her neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ. She was indeed concerned with the needs of others.

We moved from Opp in 1983 to Prattville . Over the years Virginia and I have visited with sister Gertrude. I remember one visit when she was in her early 90s. She said to me that it was difficult to get someone to go visiting with her because most of her friends had died that were in her age group. But she informed me that she still cooked food and carried it to the ‘elderly’ people. Now that really impressed me and caused me to smile. “Gert”, as her close friends call her now resides in a nursing home. She celebrated her 100th birthday anniversary with family and friends in July of this year. A couple of months ago Virginia and I visited with her. She was in bed and she looked frail in body but her reception was as cheerful as ever. She welcomed us in deep emotions with her usual greeting, “You are just like family to me.” And that feeling is mutual.The second Christian lady of whom I speak is sister Dessie Snell, a member of the Prattville church of Christ . She might be affectionately called the ‘card lady’. For nearly seventeen years she would often call me on Monday mornings to inquire about someone’s address that had been mentioned as sick or of someone who had been visiting with us during the Sunday assemblies. I can still hear her as she began speaking in her sweet voice, “Hello Brother Elliott….” I knew immediately why she was calling me. It was in February of 1983 that we moved to work with the Prattville congregation. In May, 1983, we were invited to attend her birthday party. She was only 75 years old. This year she celebrated her 101st birthday anniversary with family and friends!
Over the years she has sent thousands of cards to the sick, sorrowing, visitors, new members, and for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Just recently we received a sweet card from her. She is apologetic that she just can’t do as much as she once did. While in good health and even when she didn’t feel well you would always see her sitting up near the front during the worship assemblies. If her health would permit her she would be in attendance even now. She informed me that she is presently trying to meet the challenge of reading the Bible through in forty days. She loves to have company. You always feel blessed by being in her presence. I thank God for her wonderful Christian example.I have endeavored over the years to ask God in my daily prayers to bless our aged saints. So many like sister Jones and sister Snell have strengthened and encouraged me by their kind words and holy and dedicated lives in Jesus Christ. I have learned more from them than I have ever taught them in my preaching. I think the following poem best describes these saintly ladies.
Titus 2:3

You tell me I am getting old;
I tell you that’s not so!
The “house” I live in is worn out,
And that, of course, I know.
It’s been in use a long, long while;
It’s weathered many a gale.
I’m really not surprised you think
It’s getting somewhat frail.

The color’s changing on the roof;
The window’s getting dim,
The walls a bit transparent
And looking rather thin.
The foundation’s not so steady
As once it used to be.
My house is getting shaky,
But my “house” isn’t me!

My few short years can’t make me old;
I feel I’m in my youth.
Eternity lies just ahead,
A life of joy and truth.
I’m going to live forever there.
Life will go on – it’s grand!
You tell me I am getting old?
You just don’t understand!

The dweller in my little “house”
Is young and bright and gay,
Just starting on a life to last
Throughout eternal day.
You only see the outside,
Which is all that most folks see.
You tell me I am getting old?
You have mixed my “house” with me!

- Dora Johnson, Christian Woman

06 October 2009

Children That Are Grand

The Psalmist wrote, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5). While he wrote regarding one’s children, the same can be said about grandchildren. Someone has said that had he known how grand grandchildren were, he and his wife would have had them first! Virginia and I have been blessed with nine grandchildren and we love them dearly. We pray nightly for their physical and spiritual well being. We want them to love Jesus and give their lives to Him. Because of our age I think what the Psalmist wrote in chapter 71:17-18 could apply to us: “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 grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come.”

How wonderful and beautiful it is to be loved by your children’s children! There’s nothing exactly like it. Our nine grandchildren are talented in various ways. Unfortunately they all live in different states and they live a long way from us. Virginia and I cherish the times when our grandchildren would express their love to Papa and Ma. The youngest grandchild, Annie, came into this world loving singing. She would sit in my lap and listen for long periods of time to hymns being played on a CD. If I changed to instrumental music she would become disturbed, so I would go back to the Christian hymns. Here is Annie, age 5 years and 8 months old, the daughter of Matt and Lela singing a song to her Papa and Ma. The occasion was for a Grandparents Day program at her school in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (In order to resume the background music, please click here to be directed to our Annie's performance. Thank you ~RE)