Sunday, March 14, 2010
Memorial Box Monday
I've been looking forward to sharing this story---the story of how the LORD weaved this beautiful tapestry that has connected my life with the life of my best brother, friend, and evangelist.
This is Ronnie Owens. You can learn more about his minsitry here. And, if he's ever preaching near you, I promise you will be encouraged if you visit and hear him speak.
I've shared some of my daddy's story before, but now I get to tell the rest of the story.
I have a wonderful daddy. I don't call him Dad or Father. He's always been Daddy. He came home from work everyday, and when I was little, pretended everday that he couldn't find my sister and me. We were always hiding behind the curtains in our HUGE...um, very tiny 10 ft x 50 ft mobile home.
I grew up with an awesome daddy, but he was an unsaved daddy.
Daddy grew up with a harsh step-father. Other family members have shared that Daddy learned he could only stay out of trouble by staying out the way. He would come home from school and go to his room. He rarely joined in family conversations.
This behavior followed him into his adult years. As I grew up, most of my friends were afraid of my daddy, only because he didn't talk. He was always there, watching television, reading the paper, or working on "projects" outside, but he didn't talk.
As I became a teenager, I started attending church with the neighbors. I was saved at the age of 15 and have since been an active member or the church where I was saved. I would regularly ask my daddy to church. He would always say, "No." Once he even said, rather sternly, "I have other things I'd rather do on Sunday." Something about the tone of his voice broke my heart AND kept me from asking him to church again for years.
After Whitney and Caleb were born, Mama started coming to church. Daddy would come...when the children were performing. When Daddy was 53 years old... and I was 31, our church started a revival with Ronnie Owens just before Christmas. It was the first time I had hear Brother Ronnie preach. I was surprised when Daddy showed up on Sunday morning. I was even more surprised to look over from our house while on my way to church Sunday night and see Daddy getting into the car with Mama.
Daddy attended church every night that week through Wednesday. On Wednesday night when the invitation was given, I knew the Holy Spirit was dealing with my daddy. I play the piano, and as I played, I began to tremble and cry. Only a person who has felt the Holy Spirit speak to them can know how I knew. I just knew. I began to cry so hard that the organist came over to the piano and asked if I needed him to play for me. After I told him no, and he walked away, I motioned for him to come back. I had cried so much I couldn't see the music anymore.
I went to the altar and prayed as fervently as I have ever prayed. "Jesus, please save my daddy." I had such a fear that if daddy didn't respond that night, the LORD might not deal with him again. But, Daddy didn't move, and the revival was over.
At the closing Brother Ronnie and our pastor said they felt the revival must go on one more night. Some were excited, but I had lost hope. Our family was leaving early Friday morning to spend Christmas at Disney World. Daddy had to get the campers ready. I knew he would not attend church on Thursday night. He had too much to do.
I spent Thursday quite depressed. After work, I went to see my mama, and my sister was there. They asked, "Are you going to church tonight?" Crazy question...I'm the pianist. But, I knew what they were going to say next. "Your daddy plans to make a public profession tonight."
My sister Bobbie is a dental hygienist. Daddy had gone to get his teeth cleaned on Thursday morning. As he sat in her chair, his hands began to tremble. He told her he was moved to be saved on Wednesday night. He then said he didn't go forward because he was afraid I would pass out! He wanted us to know before he went forward.
Daddy did go forward on that Thursday night, and he has been the most faithful member of our church since.
But, that's not the end of this Memorial Box story. There is so much more to share about how my Daddy was forever changed, but for now, let me share about the bond Brother Ronnie and I have.
Following our revival, I felt the LORD wanted me to write a letter to Brother Ronnie. I put it off for several weeks, but a brief illness with time off work prompted me to follow the LORD's direction. I wrote to Brother Ronnie, and thanked him for his obedience. I thanked him for his faithfulness to carry the gospel, while sacrificing time with his family. I thanked him for giving one more night of revival when his flesh was likely ready to go back home to begin his holiday season with his wife and two daughters. I thanked his daugthers for sharing their daddy, for allowing their daddy to spend time away from them on earth made it possible for me to spend time in eternity with my daddy.
I hope you're still reading.
Weeks went by, and I really didn't think about the letter. Brother Ronnie was back in south Georgia, and I didn't think about the letter. Stan and I took Whitney and Caleb, and we visited the church where he was preaching. I didn't think about the letter.
Brother Ronnie meets hundreds of people each week in churches all over the country. I really didn't even expect he would remember our family, much less my name. I still didn't think about the letter.
When we arrived at the tent crusade, however, he walked up to where we were sitting, called me by name and said, "I got a letter from you."
Brother Ronnie later shared a story that continues to amaze me...a story of how God can use our feable efforts at faithfulness in ways we could never imagine.
Brother Ronnie told me the winter had been bleak. Muliple snow storms had forced many churches to cancel their revival meetings. He had been a couple of months with no speaking engagements, and for an evangelist, no revivals means no income. Then, he had visited with two churches. The first didn't even take up an offering. At the second church, the pastor said, "Our offering was so poor, I'm embarassed to give it to you." So, he didn't.
So, fourteen years ago, Brother Ronnie was driving home, planning to tell his wife he was giving it up. He says the devil got in the car with him. He was making plans for all of the other things he could do. (I didn't realize at the time that his evangelism ministry was just beginning.)
When he opened the door, his wife, Mrs. Judy, gave him my letter.
Go to his website, and you'll know he didn't give up.
If you're praying for lost loved ones, don't give up!
If you feel like giving up, encouragement is on the way.
If God has spoken to you today, go encourage somebody.
He is faithful! He will do more than we ever expect! And, he is weaving a tapestry that is oh, so beautiful, connecting our lives with one another, so that one day we can spend eternity together with HIM!