This past weekend I worshipped with two families very dear to me. Sunday evening I worshipped with the saints at the Rantoul church of Christ. I grew up just outside of Rantoul. I worshipped with the saints there until I went to college. During the summers I continued to worship there. When I got married I first moved back to Rantoul. When Dawn and I first got married, we identified with the saints in Rantoul and continued to do so until I began preaching devoting my life fully to the preaching of the gospel. My parents grew up worshipping there. Both sets of grandparents worship(ped) there. I was baptized in the old building they used to meet in. I was married in the old building they used to meet in. 22 years ago, I preached my first sermon before these brethren. (I am not sure who it was harder on me or the saints). When home during the summers I always preached and taught classes wherever they had a need. I continued to preach for the saints when Dawn and I got married as they were without an evangelist at the time. And for the last 4 years they have financially supported me as I have labored in here in Grinnell. It seems that for my entire life they have found someway to support me. For the Sunday morning service I went and worshipped with the Southside church of Christ in Mattoon, IL. To say they have a special place in my heart is an understatement. I love the saints there. They took a chance on a young man who desired to preach the gospel, but really had no idea what he was doing. They helped him to grow as a person, as a preacher, and as a Christian. While there, Autumn was born. They helped our young family out a lot. I am certain that I wouldnít be where I am today if it had not been for them. They have supported me so much throughout the years. They supported me while there. They continue to support me now. Even one of the members there have come up to Grinnell and preached a very successful gospel meeting for us (Mack Fox). Some of my closest friends are still there. I long to return there every opportunity I have. In some ways as the years go by I understand more fully how Paul felt about the saints in Corinth.
This year, sadly I was reminded of how short this life really is. There are loved ones, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that arenít with us anymore. Several of these persons I have returned for their funerals. Others, I just havenít been home since they passed. I know many of them had hard illnesses that they battled for years before departing. I know some just couldnít go on living anymore in this old world of sin. And looking out over the pulpit and seeing new faces in old seats or worse yet, empty seats where my friends and family used to sit brings my heart to tears. I remember the 1st time I preached at Rantoul after my grandmother passed. Seeing her empty seat was almost more than I could bear. I remember the 1st time I saw a new couple sitting in her seat. It was long overdue. But it was not easy to see. I donít really long for these Christians to be here again. I would never wish them back into this world of sorrow. But, I long to see them. I long to embrace them. I long to hear them laugh. And I know that I canít do that here. Here I have to say good-bye. Here I had to say good-bye. The truth is, I donít know when Iíll be back again. Chances are good, as we are all getting older, there will be some I wonít see again; at least not in this life. Even as I write this, I am grieved with this thought. What if that was the last time I got to tell grandma face to face I love her? What if that was the last time I got to see some of my dear friends in Mattoon? I perish in the thought. ~WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Volume 5 Issue 14