The early winter of 1994 was harsh. Our life had been disrupted that year by a difficult move and trying circumstances. Our family of nine was between homes, living in a small two-bedroom apartment waiting for our country house to become available. (We are still waiting for that). Wes was a newborn that winter. Most of our belongings were stored in a leaky garage twenty miles east of town. Our second car was stranded five miles west of town in our church parking lot. It was a difficult confusing time.
I was trying to bring my life into order and doing a poor job of it. To make matters worse we were all sick. I borrowed a friend’s pickup truck during a heavy snowstorm and promptly got it stuck in the front yard of his beautiful home. When I was finally free I had excavated a hole with the tires of his pickup the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Miraculously, he still considers me a friend to this day.
The next day we drove to the church to see if we could get our old white Plymouth running. The grill was bashed out in a deer collision giving it the appearance of a great white shark with rust spots. But the car was good, reliable transportation and we needed to get it out of the parking lot. The girls were going to follow us out in the van and then do some shopping. The boys joined me on an adventure to rescue the Great White Shark. On the way the cold rain turned to dangerous sleet and ice on the roads and driving quickly became very hazardous.
At the church we discovered a short in the wiring, started the car and left it running to charge the battery. Concerned for Lois and the girls safety we drove back to warn them. There were cars off the road everywhere. It was so slippery that cars sitting still would slide off the road because of the crown of the pavement.
At the bottom the first grade, within sight of the church we could not climb the hill. We pulled off the road and parked to wait for a salt truck to come through. The wait would be at least an hour. We worried and prayed for the girl’s safety.
Finally the salt truck dove by and treated the roads. We were able to start toward town. Within a couple miles we saw the van waiting at a corner. We rolled down the window to talk relieved that everyone was OK. We quickly shouted agreement to go home directly and get out of the storm.
Within a half hour we were snug in our apartment safe and munching on a hot pizza. The phone rang. It was Mark Boucher. He lived out by the church. “Pastor, is everything OK?”
“Yes, we’re just here at home safe and warm enjoying a little lunch with the family. How are you?” I asked.
“We’re fine. I just got a call from Mike Spearman, though and he said your car is sitting up at the church running. It has been there for a few hours and no one is there. Do you want someone to turn it off?”
Suddenly it occurred to me that in my concern for the safety of the family I completely forgot that the Great White Shark idling in the parking lot of the church. Mike had stopped by and the church was locked. He went home and called the church and no one answered. He suspected something was wrong. He had Mark call the house and check on us before getting the authorities involved. I am an important guy with a lot on my mind. I can’t clutter my head with trivial things like weather or not I turned my car off.
God made us and He knows how easy it is for us to forget important things, so he arranged reminders for us. He built them into the life of the church. The Lord’s Supper is a regular reminder of what Jesus did for sinners on the cross. Jesus said; “Do this in remembrance of me.” The older I get the more I forget, but I never want to forget what Jesus did for me when he died for my sin, forgave me, made me his child and made a way for me to God. That’s something I never want to forget, even when the rest of my hair and teeth fall out and I can’t find my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot anymore.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
May 19, 2003