In Feb. 7 IssueRussell County NewsBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
I used to think about religion like this…
Have you ever been in a movie theater, and someone’s sitting behind you-trying to get your attention?
It may be a friend who waves at you, and motions you to come sit with them.
You shake your head “no,” maybe flash an “OK” sign, and mouth that you’re fine where you are.
I think I have always felt God is back there throwing popcorn at me-trying to get me to come sit with Him.
For 43 years, I have stayed put right where I was.
“No, I’m fine,” I have kept saying.
Well, I’m not “fine.”
And I don’t mind to admit it.
You see, I need God.
I need Him more than I need anything.
“Oh Lord (pun intended), is he going to get all religious on us?“ you may be thinking.
Yes, I am.
Hey, I’ve tried it all.
I am a walking/living/(shallow) breathing example of “been there, done that.”
In all my adventures/misadventures, I had not discovered happiness.
Oh, I had gone to church, and had actually been baptized.
It could be that I wasn’t “spiritually mature” because I just didn’t seem to “get it.”
I think I was expecting everything to be all grand and glorious, I expected to have plenty of money and no problems, thought I should wake up feeling great every day and was convinced I would live the rest of my life with no troubles or strife.
I also recall how curious I felt whenever I would drive by the First United Methodist Church of Russell Springs.
I heard about that church all the time.
It seemed that everyone who went there was happy-all the men were handsome, all the women pretty, all the children beautiful and talented.
They just seemed to really have a lot going on.
I was jealous.
I wanted to be involved with a church like that-even though I doubted the existence of such a thing.
Every once in a while, I would run into Dennis Price, who I used to work with years ago at The Times Journal.
Dennis was not only very involved with the church, but also preached on occasion.
I noticed Dennis had definitely changed.
The Dennis I knew while working at the newspaper was not the Dennis I knew now.
He had this “peace” and “contentment” about him. He seemed calm, and confident.
I had asked him about it one day and he pointed to the sky.
“It’s a God-thing,” he said. “Hey, I’m not going to bug you about it but why don’t you come visit our church some time?
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll do that,” I half-promised.
Back last summer, my 15-year-old son, Evan, who I consider the “spiritual leader” of our household, asked my wife and I to go to a church he had just started attending with his friends.
“Yeah, why not?” I told him. “What church is it?
When he mentioned “The Church at the Springs,” I realized which one he was talking about.
I was reluctant, but didn’t show it.
I was thinking to myself I would go just one time and my “obligation” would be filled.
We went, and I was impressed by not only Bro. Jim Kingry’s message, but the overall warmth and friendliness of the congregation.
Then I thought we would maybe go again just to be sure the first visit wasn’t a “fluke.”
The second visit led to a third, and so on.
I was “thirsty,” and the “water” there was quenching that thirst.
I was thrilled to learn the church had “classes” for people who were thinking about joining.
Back in my college days, I remember sitting up all night in the stairwell of Barnes Campbell Hall at Western Kentucky University-talking about religion.’
I said I would like to find a church where instead of just showing up in nice clothes every Sunday, you could actually take classes and “learn” about religion.
Here it was right in front of me.
In one of our first meetings with Bro. Jim, I remember we had talked a good two hours or so about all kinds of things.
Toward the end of our meeting, he laid a little pamphlet on a table in front of me.
He explained what it was about as I flipped through it.
I came upon a series of drawings-one picture was of a deep cavern, followed by a picture of God on one side of the cavern, then that was followed by a picture of a person (you/me) on the other side of the deep cavern, then a picture of a bridge connecting God and you/me.
The illustration presented the premise of establishing where you/me were in relation to God.
I suddenly felt a lump in my throat. My chest hurt. I couldn’t breathe.
“Are you alright?” Bro Jim asked.
I couldn’t speak.
All I could do is point at the pictures.
I was shaking violently.
“I’m…over…here,” I gasped-pointing at the lone, solitary figure far away from God on the other side of the deep cavern.
I burst into tears, and felt as though my body, my entire being, would explode.
“Please help me!” I pleaded.
Bro. Jim and my absolutely incredible wife, Renee’, prayed with me, and at THAT moment, my friends, this sinner was saved.
Amen, Praise the Lord, and hallelujah!
So, how have things been since then?
Do I still have problems?
Of course I do, but I am now thankful for challenges in hopes I will gain knowledge and wisdom from them.
Am I rich.
Where people just nice to us so we would join the church?
They were (and are) nice to us because they are nice people, and they’re living for the Lord.
The “warmth and friendliness” shown to us on our first visit has only grown.
We see fellow church members at the grocery, the gym, at work, and they’re always the same.
They are truly a blessing, and we appreciate all of them so very much!
I shudder to think where I would be without God and the people who have helped me find Him.
My long-time friend, Don McClure, decided to walk the right path long before I did, and I’m so thankful he didn’t give up on me.
The awesome Allen family (We love you Greg, Dawn, Colby, and Maddie!) has been a source of inspiration and encouragement as my family makes this journey.
We certainly wouldn’t have ended up at our church home if it wasn’t for the Galitos. I just wish Donald wouldn’t be so restrained…(OK, that‘s a joke, people!)
Whenever I feel too lazy to drive from Jamestown to the church in Russell Springs, I think of the Brummetts who travel from GLASGOW to be there. (OK, Blair may be the prettiest baby, but ours is at least fourth after the Lee’s baby boy and that little bundle of joy B.J. is always carrying around. Speaking of babies-we couldn’t enjoy church services without The Best Nursery in the World, Kingdom Kids, and the Garners for taking better care of our babies than we do!)
And speaking of “joy,” Joy Stephens Wilson gave a testimony not long ago which provided great clarity and focus to my life. She has also helped me through a trying time a few years ago when she taught Divorce Care classes at the church. (Hmm…ironic.) And did I ever thank her? No, because I was too focused on my “suffering,” and not the assistance she was trying to give.
Each week, I look forward to seeing Rosan Medaris at the library because we can “talk church,“ and she always gives me a much-needed boost. (To be honest-she helps me TREMENDOUSLY with my job. And what a good cook she is!)
I have learned from Russell Wallace how NOT to bake beans over a campfire.
Jimmy Roy-my first ever guitar teacher-we’re praying for you, brother. I lost track of you years ago, and no illness is going to keep you from STILL trying to teach me to play guitar.
But perhaps the biggest influence on me has been the youth at Russell Springs United Methodist Church.
I have had the honor of working with them (and all the dedicated Youth Leaders), and they make my heart leap up with joy!
The other night at the church, I was standing in the hallway while they were praying in the Youth Room.
As I waited for them to finish, I was looking at a huge, colorful, “God is Love!” display on the wall.
I caught myself reading that phrase aloud over and over.
“GOD is love!”
“God IS love!”
“God is LOVE!”
“GOD IS LOVE!”
“GOD IS LOVE!”
I guess this all sounds pretty crazy to you, huh?
But it’s like you hear people say, “If I can do it, anyone can do it!”
You could think of it like that one game show where you “pick a door.”
PLEASE pick the right door because your life will so enriched.
No, it won’t always be easy, (and trust me, I am the most faulty, clueless, backsliding person you will ever encounter) but when God’s got your back, you can deal with anything.
He’ll help you. He’ll be there for you.
He loves you. I believe that, because that’s what that sign said. I feel that love, too.
But it’s important to be as aware of Satan as you are God because Satan really wants to mess things up for you. (Can I get an “amen” on that?)
Are you tired of being in a “fog,” weary of the feelings of desperation? Lonely? Depressed? “Sick and tired” of being “sick and tired?
There is a solution, an answer, a better way.You know what?
In this crowded theater we call “life,” I think I’m gonna go back there and sit with my friend, God.
He’s been waiting patiently for me…and for you, too.