The Norman Transcript

December 27, 2013

I’m still going to church

By Bruce Kessler
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A few weeks before Christmas, I was called home. Dad had prostate cancer and his condition had worsened. There was nothing more that could be done.

Time, that valuable commodity that we would like back, was slipping by. I needed to be with my dad. So, homeward bound to that beautiful place called home with a heavy heart but with a since of urgency and purpose.

My parents’ place was surrounded by tall, lanky Georgia Pines, nestled between magnificent Oaks that have witnessed so much history, artfully decorated by strands of moss and encircled by fields of peanuts and cotton. The gentle southern coastal breeze caressed the landscape of Newington, Ga.

My dad, among other things, had instilled in me the passion of preaching. The church in Rincon, Ga., (where I grew up) had asked me to speak for them on Sunday. This was a special honor, and my dad was looking forward to hearing me. Looking back, I now realize that he understood this would be the last sermon he would ever hear. Yet, God has a way of using those simple moments of life for greater spiritual truths. God always has a plan.

I flew in on a Monday from Oklahoma City and had quality time with my dad the rest of the week. That Saturday, I had decided to spend the night with my sister. The night was filled with thunderstorms and lightening. Around 2 a.m., we received a call from my stepmother that dad had fallen. She was in a panic, so we hurried to the house through heavy rains. We pulled up to the house and I jumped out running, dashing through the screen door soaking wet, heart leaping through my chest.

As I walked through the back door, I heard my dad shout, “I’m still going to church.”

Understand something, my dad was not a perfect man, he had his flaws just like everyone else. Yet, his statement demonstrated a commitment in Jesus Christ that I see lacking in myself. Here, in great pain and distress, physically tormented by a deadly disease, yet, faith in Jesus, faith in the church Jesus suffered and died for, a desire to hear the word one final time, to be surrounded by family, and more importantly, to be ever faithful to death, has more times than not shamed me and my petty excuses.

Let’s look at Joseph as a Biblical example of faithful commitment, no matter the odds or circumstances.

Genesis 39:2 — “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.” Genesis 39:21, “But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”

Joseph was rejected by his brothers, but the Lord was with him every step of the way. Even though he was thrown in prison and falsely accused, the Bible says the Lord was with him. Joseph offered not one excuse, nor bitterly complained. This was what my dad understood and enjoyed, even to the point of death, the very presence of the Lord.

Are you making excuses, complaining, bitterly bemoaning your circumstances? Instead, enjoy the very presence of the Lord, faithfully allowing Him to reign in your heart as King. Then and only then can you say, “I’m still going to church.”

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