I despise dreary, cloudy weather. I made this confession to a neighbor a few weeks ago, and to my amazement she said she loves cloudy days. Well, someone needs to love them. Text me on cloudy days and tell me how good they are, I asked her. Thankfully, she did just that on the next couple of dreary days.
On dreary days my mind will often return to a September day in 2014. We were visiting Mom and Dad in Fredonia, and Dad wanted me to go out and take pictures with him. Dad thinks I’m a good photographer. It’s a Dad thing. The day was so dreary, even misting at times, and I didn’t think we would get any good photos. But I humored him, and we set out. This day, he wanted to venture down Deer Creek Road. We parked just off the highway and waded into the brush. Not far in, there was a little clearing and we looked around for the old Barton Springs. We weren’t very successful in finding the spring, but I was struck by this oak tree. It’s close to where the springs and creek run. The picture here isn’t anything spectacular, but the memories and thoughts it stirs up are dear to my heart.
Looking back, one of my favorite things to do with my grandmother, Fay, was to listen to her tell stories of the past. She loved, I mean absolutely loved, to talk. I would sometimes ask her to tell me about when she was a little girl. A story that sticks out is of her most memorable gift as a little girl. One year, she and her sister Daisy each got a pair of red silk panties from Aunt Emma. She was so proud of those panties and thought they were the most beautiful gift she had ever received at the time. She would tell of hard times that I don’t think I can even comprehend and people I will never meet in this life, but who had such personality in her stories. My regret is that I neglected to write these stories down. But, I digress.
What makes the oak tree in this picture special is what happened under it so many years ago. Dad says Fay used to tell him stories of revivals being held at Barton Springs. People would gather by the creek enjoying the crisp water from the springs and the shade of the oak trees and hear about my Lord. How many people were added to eternity with Christ when sitting under this tree? In my mind, I can hear the unpolished voices of men, women, and children singing the old hymns. I can hear the preacher pleading with the crowd for repentance, and I can sense the broken hearts when hearing of a perfect Savior slain for them. How I wish I could be the proverbial fly on the wall for one of these revivals.
This leaves me with two primary thoughts. First, I am so thankful for a heritage of faith in my family. I don’t know exactly when this heritage started, but many in my family have believed. Fay was a staunch Methodist all her life, and I do mean staunch. (My parents have attended mainly non-denominational churches. So Fay was quite pleased that Matt and I attended a “brand-name” church, as she called it, while in Lubbock. Just for the record, that “brand-name” church was a Baptist church.) But her Methodist roots obviously aren’t what saved her. She had a genuine faith that began in childhood from all appearances. She and Papa showed their faith to their children in the best way they knew, and my parents exemplified their faith to my siblings and me. I pray that Matthew and I will do the same for our children. I want my children to look at Matt and me and see genuine faith, not merely lip service to Christian morality.
Second, and more importantly, I am so thankful that the Gospel is timeless. It’s not a Gospel that was only relevant during the first thousand years after Christ came. Generation after generation knows without a doubt that man is sinful and the world is broken. Sure, the terminology changes some depending on a person’s beliefs, but the evidence of sin is undisputed. The Gospel is not a fad that comes and goes with the whims of influential people. Diets, supplements, education methods, hairstyles, sock colors, and more are all on a continuous rotating cycle, but the Gospel remains. The same Gospel that I read and hear today is the same Gospel that my ancestors would have heard in the early 1900s. And the Gospel is this: In the fullness of time, Christ came into the world, lived a perfect life, was obedient to the Father unto death on a cross, atoning for the sins of those who would believe on Him, defeated death by rising three days later, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father with a name that is above all other names. (Galatians 4:4-7, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 3:5, Romans 5:19, Hebrews 9:11-12, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, Philippians 2:5-11) When God moved on my heart and I placed my faith in Him I was saved by grace through faith not of my own works lest I should have any temptation to boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9)
I hear a lot of talk now about how Christianity is an antiquated religion that can’t keep up with the times. But, it’s partially Christianity’s antiquity that gives me a firmer faith. In the thousands of years since Christianity was established, it has never been disproved or faded away. It has only grown, and done so in a way that could only be the work of God. (Acts 5:33-40) The Gospel has stood the test of time and will continue to do so, firmer even than this oak tree that’s stood for hundreds of years.