Sunday we sang an old spiritual "Take Me Back -- take me back -- to the place where I first received you" and I got to thinking about one of the first places I first came to know the Lord. It was an one-room Church in Pike County, IL. It was where my grandparents, Bill & Hazel Neese, attended -- my grandmother even had a stroke there one Sunday morning and went home to Jesus on the way to the hospital. It was a tiny building with a floor-furnace heater, funeral home hand fans to keep you cool in the summer and an outhouse if you really had to "go" that badly. We often came "up home" to visit 5-6 times a year and would attend with all our relatives. You see we went to a much more modern church (with air-conditioning and a fellowship) -- and this all seemed rather primitive. But as the years have gone by I see that those lessons of truth have stood the test of time and modern invention.
The adults would quote their favorite verses -- I can still hear my Dad say that his was Phil 4:19 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" -- he proved that during the 11 years he was confined to a wheelchair and on a respirator with muscular dystrophy. He never wavered in his belief. My Aunt would often start the hymns if there wasn't a man available who could carry an accapella tune in a bucket. She lived out the faith of those hymns with the courage she sang of, having the same disease as my father for 30+ years.
My old great aunt would take the children to the back of the room and teach them a Bible lesson. There weren't videos of veggie tales, huge Bible characters in costumes, or even flannelgraphs -- just Aunt Ruth with her Bible open - teaching one of the stories of the Heroes of the Faith. It must have "caught" because most of those cousins grew up and are still strong believers today.
All those people there were connected in some way -- aunts, uncles, second-cousins, and close neighbors. It was a simpler time - life didn't seem so complicated to an 8 year old girl -- just love the people you're with -- love the Lord wholeheartedly -- do the best you can.
This instilled in me some necessary core values: Unity, Love, Adoration and Striving for Excellence.