When my grandfather was saved he was just twelve years old. It was in a revival service at the Methodist Church in Chatham, Ohio. He was even lay preacher once when he was a boy and he felt called to be a pastor. But some things confused him. There must have been some sin, some youthful lust, some worldly tug that made him wonder of he was really saved. Maybe he wasn’t. It may be that his father contributed to his confusion with a little over-zealous theology. Grandpa once told me that he stole come watermelon on a hot day and at dinner that night his father confronted him and told him that he doubted if he was saved. His older brother Elmer was caught chewing tobacco and my great grandfather told him that he wasn’t saved.
I’m sure Satan was at work to confuse my grandfather. He set aside his relationship with God and began to pursue many other things. He was interested in farming, boxing, baseball, and bikes. He met a pretty blue-eyed girl at the Farmer’s Market in Newark one day. She was eight years younger than he. She was a faithful church member but she was not saved. She had never really heard the gospel.
Years later when my Dad came to Christ in the Navy the first thing he did was come home to tell his parents of Christ. Their reactions were differed. Grandma was offended that the church-going of his youth was not enough for him. Grandpa had heard the gospel and knew what he was talking about. Tears ran down his face as he described his childhood conversion and his drift from God. It wasn’t long before he was restored to Christ and began to seek a sound, Bible-believing Church. He found one right there in Newark at First Christian Union Church. The pastor, H. E. Doyle was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. He became my grandfather’s mentor and pastor.
One fall evening my grandfather was driving through the mellow Ohio countryside and God was working on his heart. He sensed that God was doing a deeper work in him. He pulled his car off the road and stood looking into the clear, starry sky. Listening to the voice of the Spirit and following the tug of his heart he made a decision. On his finger was a ring that represented a soul-tie and a commitment that seemed contrary to his new desire to pursue Christ. He felt God was telling him to break that tie. He removed the ring and threw it into the field that night and never looked back. From then on his exclusive loyalty was to the Lord and the ministry of the local church.
In Newark today, near the hospital where our daughter Heidi Grace was born, is the building of First Christian Union Church. My grandfather was the chairman of the Trustees when the building was built. Years later it was in that very building where his funeral service was held.
I believe when my grandfather was about twelve he turned his back on a life of consecration to God.
That night under the stars on the margin of a corn field in the rolling hills of central Ohio he embraced the consecrated life again. It was shortly after that that my grandfather answered the call to ministry that had come many, many years before.
My grandfather was ordained to the gospel ministry at the Christian Union Campgrounds when he was 55 years old. I was there. He pastored three churches after that, one in Cooney in northwestern Ohio, one near Grand Rapids, Ohio, and one in Linnville, Ohio. He pastured the Linnville church for most of his ministry. While he was still employed at Fiberglass he pastored the Linnville church. When he retired he took the churches in Cooney and Grand Rapids, then he returned to pastor the little church in Linnville for the rest of his life. He was in the ministry for sixteen years.
Maybe one autumn evening this week you should take a drive or a walk before winter sets in and it is too late. Maybe there are soul ties that are holding you back from a life of joyful, fulfilling service for Christ. Spend some time with the Lord in the cool night air, under the stars, and consider a renewed consecration of yourself to Christ. Destroy or discard things that tie you to anything questionable. Maybe years after you are with the Lord your grandchildren will be inspired by your devotion to Christ.
October 28, 2007