Calder Edmison came by the old country church like he had every week for the past couple of years to look after the old building ever since the pastor caved in when the Governor dictated all the churches close their doors until the Covid scare was over, in violation of the United States Constitution. When the time had come for the church to re-open, the pastor was gone. They no longer had enough people to support a new pastor and maintain the church. He opened the front door and was walking down the aisle when a flood of thoughts from yesteryear was so overwhelming that he stopped and sat down in one of the pews.
It was at that very moment a clap of thunder shook the church. Lightening so close it lit up the old sanctuary. A heavy rain pelted the windows, giving the appearance of tears streaming down the beautifully crafted stained-glass windows as if sorrowfully asking, where have all the people gone. Pastors, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teachers would often point to the Biblical scenes on those windows so artistically and vividly portrayed; it was as if they came alive during a sermon or when telling a Biblical story. There was the Risen Lord with outstretched arms saying, “Come Unto Me,” Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, Angels, Apostles, David, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, Noah, all of which remained in the memory of all those that had been faithful in attending this old country church through the years that proclaimed the gospel message of Christ!
As he continued down memory lane, he longed to just once more hear some of those old hymns he hadn’t heard in years, beautiful inspiring music, laced through with solid theology of the faith that sustained so many people during the good times and when adversity came their way. He could hear his children in their youth singing Jesus Loves Me and the congregation singing “Sweet Hour Of Prayer”, “Blessed Assurance”, “I Love To Tell The Story”; so many wonderful hymns came to mind and each service closing with the singing of “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”. He could still hear the voices of family members and fellow church members singing those hymns from years ago and those in the military saying how the verses of those old hymns sustained them in their faith during those dark days when terribly homesick or enduring the horror of war.
He was deep in thought, the storm raging outside, when he was abruptly interrupted when a voice startled him. Jumping to his feet, he turned to face a man who promptly excused himself for scaring him like that. When the man introduced himself, Mr. Edmison was so far down the reminiscent road it took him a moment to regain his senses. Bryce Larimore he said, “I can hardly believe my eyes. You remember me, said Bryce! Yes, very well, even though it has been almost 25 years since you moved away from here. We never had a prayer meeting when your grandparents and parents didn’t ask us to pray for you! I can’t get over this. It is so very good to see you again. What brings you this way? “My parents and my grandparents, he replied.” I know that it will take some explaining to do since as you know, they are buried in the church cemetery. When I saw a car in the parking lot and found the front door unlocked, I felt someone was there, but I didn’t think it would be you. Mr. Edmison smiled, yes, this old church building and I are still standing. I was sitting here reminiscing and at this very moment the hymn “How I Love to Tell the Story” came to mind and how these stained-glass windows did just that in their own special way!
Please sit down Bryce. I’d love to hear what you have to say. Bryce began to tell his story related to his rebellious nature, the cause of great heartache to his family. After he joined the army and moved away, he had very little contact with his family. A successful business, wealth and pride, left no room for God. Every time he talked to his parents, grandparents, and siblings, they always said how they had been praying for him. It irritated him to the point he seldom had any contact with them, as well as it kept his wife and children from knowing them, which he greatly regretted.
The reason I am here is as soon as the rain stops, I am going out to their tombstones and ask their forgiveness. Yes, most people would never understand. I can’t explain it but I feel it is something I have to do now that I have given my life to the Lord and asked His forgiveness. Mr. Edmison, pointing to one of the stained-glass windows, read the Bible verse on it – Matthew 21:22, “And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Mr. Edmison said on the plaque under that window are the names of the hard-working farmers that sold much of what little they had shortly after the depression to pay for that window, so great was their faith in the Lord and belief God was faithful to His word. As you know, those people were your grandparents. Their prayers, and your parents’ prayers have been answered. Welcome home Bryce!
They both sat there in total silence that seemed like eternity before saying a word. No longer alone on reminiscent road, Mr. Edmison spoke first. Even though I knew you from the day you were born until you left here, other than saying hello, how are you doing, and so on, I never really knew you. Just like we say we know the Lord, but until we spend time reading His word, and talking to him in prayer every day, we know who he is, things about him, but we don’t really know him or have a personal relationship with him. As a church and as parents, we could have done better in preparing our youth to defend their faith, which is why so many turned away from the faith while attending college or when they went out into the world, like you did. Hundreds of Biblical prophecies have come true and are coming true. Prophecy related to Israel right before our eyes is a prime example. So many scientific and archaeological discoveries are proving the accuracy of the Bible which should excite people about the Christian faith, yet so few pastors are even aware of these things. I feel I could have done so much more than I did regarding people like yourself to encourage you in the faith. Bryce gave him a hug and said, it is very obvious you being here today is not a coincidence. The Lord is so faithful. I can’t begin to explain what it feels like being back in this Old Country Church and finding you here today!
Mr. Edmison, I’ve been offered a very large sum of money for my business. I am going to go back, sell the business, and move my family back to this small town. If you would pray with me in finding a new pastor, I will guarantee his salary and all the expenses of the church until it is self-sufficient. There was a time old country churches like this and the people that attended them with faith in the Lord was what truly made America great! Every year hundreds of churches close their doors. Is it any wonder the very foundation of our country is starting to shake and crack like never before. I can’t save them all but with the Lord’s help and yourself, we can save this one and make an impact for Christ in this community through this old country church once again.
Mr. Edmison told him he read a story the humorist Will Rogers told a century ago. It might not be exactly the way he told it, but I think it is close enough. During a political debate, one politician accused the other of trying to get the church goers’ vote by presenting himself as a righteous man. He called his bluff saying he bet his opponent a hundred dollars he didn’t even know the Lord’s prayer. The man accepted the bet and began: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” His challenger was flabbergasted, said how he hated to lose a bet, couldn’t believe his opponent actually knew it, but since he was proven wrong, he gave him the hundred dollars. Mr. Edmison said it is hurtful so few politicians and people in society today know what was supposed to be the humor in this story is that what the politician said was not the Lord’s prayer.
Both of them got down on their knees and prayed that revival would once again come to their old country church. When they finished praying, the rain had stopped. The stained-glass windows seemed to sparkle like never before. As they both were about to go out the door Calder Edmison’s cell phone rang. His wife asked what was keeping him so long, lunch was almost ready. He said, honey, before you do another thing, I want you to get on the internet and look up The Gaither Vocal Group sings “The Old Country Church” and watch that video because this Old Country Church, with the help of the Lord, is about to come back alive again just like in that song! And if you would, please set an extra plate for lunch. You will never believe who is coming home with me!
“Stained Glass Tears” turned to showers of blessings and answered prayer for at least one Old Country Church! To God be the Glory, great things He hath done!
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