When I am invited to Paul and Hannah Gardner’s home I always think of what C. S. Lewis wrote: “Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?” They have a wood-burning stove and two rocking chairs arranged nearby. It’s usually summertime when I am invited to Paul and Hannah’s home and it is usually on a Thursday night. Hannah prepares good food and creates an inviting atmosphere. She is a graceful Christian woman who reminds me a bit of a very young version of my own mother. Paul is gifted at nudging the conversation into good places for the help of all who are included in the circle. How I treasure those times.
If you were to ask me to name some of the people who greatly encourage me in my fellowship with the Lord I would include my dear friend Paul Gardner and his wife Hannah. How I love to do gospel work with them. How I love to kneel and pray with them. How I love to sing and worship when they lead. How I love to rehearse the progress and the triumphs of the gospel with them by the fire or around the table in their gracious home. How I cherish in my memory the little scene over and over again where, after a week or a weekend of gospel ministry they hand a mint through my window in the tradition of Uncle Johnny, Barakel’s founder, and we pull out onto the highway and head downstate, hearts full of gratitude for yet another chance to make Him known in such a blessed place.
Today in the kind providence of God I stumbled on a video of Paul Gardner preaching in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It’s a meaningful message introduced by one of those stories of the triumphs of His grace and the advance of the gospel that I so love to hear him tell. Get comfortable. This is worth your while.