The wild turkeys met me on my walk down to the Retreat this evening. Trying not to disturb them to the point of flight, I slowed my pace and gave them plenty of time to meander up the opposite side of the holler from where I stood. Their darks back glistened in the warmth of the overly warm October evening. The sunlight was merely filtering through the shadowy wood. They reminded me of my Angus cattle standing in the July sun, their backs gleaming as healthy, shiny black. “Your cattle are mighty fat and slick,” Uncle John would say, enduring me with one of the kindest compliments anyone had ever said or noticed about my farming. Like the vestiges of beings from another place and time, the flock ascended out of sight; slowly, stealthily. Not one of them called out. Silently, like soldiers retreating to safety away from a larger enemy force. Once they had passed, I continued the descent down to the site of many days of toil this past summer. At times, the shade made the sweltering days bearable, but just barely. Back then, it was July. It was supposed to be hot.
This evening, all but a hint of coolness yet escaped these early fall days. The elders speak of frost has usually come by the tenth, but at this point, there will be doubtful anything close to that this coming week. The streams and river seem to bemoan the fact that autumn has stayed away; an extended vacation from us that we all wish she would end. Leaves, wanting to show their true colors, yet cling to the production of chlorophyll, gasping for a break, their edges turning brown for want of rest.
From within, there beckons a break from the sultry weather. My soul seeks the chill of the brisk morning air; yet, there is none to be had. My physical body thirsts but cannot be quenched.
Thirsty, I turn to the only well from which a soul can find sustenance; the Word.
In my search for something to quench my thirst, He spoke to me before the sunrise this morning. “Prepare,” were His words. Opening the pages to my Bible, I turned first to Luke 12:12, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”
“Okay,” I thought, “that’s not far from what I almost always ask before standing in front of a room full of High School students.” Not giving it too much thought, I set out on my weekly walk to church. The sky was overcast, and the air was still. The thermometer on the porch read 72 degrees. “Arrgh,” I moaned to myself, “when will it end?”
Not long after, when I arrived at the General Store, Scott was just finishing opening. “I thought Jennifer was working today,” I asked. He smiled, then looked at the calendar, “Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be off today.” Then he laughed and turned back, “I’m leaving as soon as she gets here,” he smiled. We talked a bit more about how she was doing. She had asked that I lift her up in prayer a few weeks ago, so it was with concern for her that we spoke. Not long after, she came in. Her foot still in the boot. She had broken it a about a week or so ago. Scott was about to leave and said, “It shouldn’t be busy today,”
“Oh great,” she replied, “you just jinxed me.”
My mind flew back to the nights in Emergency Recovery, and how we would fear the onslaught of calls if anyone would use the “Q” word, we called it. “Quiet,” of course was what we were referring too since it never failed if someone said it, we would be overwhelmed with outages the remainder of the evening. After she finished getting settled in, I shared with her the reminiscence of that statement. And then she asked the question, “What made you leave your engineering career behind.”
It was then as if God had opened up the opportunity to share my testimony, I began to tell her the story of how I had answered the call to serve. Being mindful as we talked, to watch for customers, step after step was revealed. Each turn of events I kept reminding her, that God was in it. Each new twist had God’s purpose in mind. By the time I had caught her up to the present, the first customer finally appeared. Call it God’s timing, call it divine intervention, I left Jennifer this morning with my usual, “Have a Blessed day,” as she answered back, “You too,” as she attended to the needs of another customer.
As I sat down at the picnic table to study my scripture before departing off on the rest of my walk to church, the thought came to me, “The next time you speak at a church, you should share your testimony instead of telling about the history of your people.”
But then, the next verse came, 1 Timothy, chapter 1, “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”
It was as if God had set me down into the well, as my head began to swim with a new perception of what could be said, should the opportunity present itself someday. “You should use this verse to clarify the fact that what you share about your ancient Waldensian ancestors is not to be the focus; the genealogy of your people,” He said. “Rather, you should direct their attention to how these people were used as an instrument of God. Because of them, the way, truth, and the light are here with you today.”
“Of course,” my thoughts echoed.
Because of their dedication and faith, the Ancient Waldensian people were able to preserve the Word of God. Their impact made it possible such that even today, miracles can be made manifest when we seek the only source of water that can quench the unquenchable thirst, the Word of God. Although we certainly appreciate their martyrdom, we should not allow it to hinder our real intent. Through the blood of countless martyrs over centuries that would turn into a millennium, their memorization, faith, and dedication became the signature of who they were. They themselves would come to plant the seeds of the Reformation through the blood of their own sacrifice. Like the early Apostles, they realized that they too had to spread the gospel. In the end, it’s not about the endless genealogies, rather, it is about the edification of faith in Jesus Christ that we want to receive. His word is the vessel through which we can be endued with the Holy Spirit. This precious gift, this Comforter which He hath sent, is with us even now, if only we would embrace Him and open the cover from which his word is bound. For some, it is within; memorized for safe keeping in the heart. While others have never had a Bible to read. Our eternal life rests upon our realization that through this precious word, we can understand what it is, and what must be done to receive eternal life. We cannot bring someone to Christ, but rather, through our witnessing, through our actions, and through our sharing of His Word, we can bring to fruition what He started so long ago. Jesus told his disciples, “My meat is to do the will of the Father,” and so it should be with each of us who calls him or herself a Christian.
I know not when, or where my next destiny shall be to stand before others to share the gospels. In some manner of speaking, I still do not know what will be said, but I know without a doubt, at that time, he will provide me with the words with which to speak.
The well of water will rise from within, and with it, the thirst of many shall hopefully be quenched. Salvation is our only key to eternal life, and through the blood of Christ, we have that hope.
Let not the heat of the season deter us from continuing in our quest to save those who are lost. We have one life to live. Let us not live it in vain.
When a brother or sister receives that gift of life, salvation through Jesus, it is as if the Holy Spirit will become a cool breeze unto our soul. Once more we can breathe deeply that refreshing, satisfying water of life.
Let the cool winds blow Lord, let them blow once more.
Thanks be to God.