RITE OF PASSAGE: Doubly blessed
Blessings come in all sizes and shapes. One Friday morning not long ago, I got a call from one of my Baptist Messenger readers. He told me his name was Cecil, and he had been blessed by many of my articles. He also said he would like to come by my office because he had made something for my wife and me. Since I was heading to the airport, I told him I would be back in town Monday. He could come to see me any time that morning.
Monday arrived, and the Awe Star staff followed our habit of gathering in the conference room to discuss our weekends. I had just returned from speaking at a retreat for Pleasant Valley Church in Liberty, Mo. Our vice president, Brent, had spoken at a retreat for Sapula, Ridgeway. Everyone had a story to tell. As we were sharing all the great things God had done, the door chimes sounded. My wife stepped out into the hallway and came back with . . . Cecil. There he stood in his overalls, a hat in his hand and a smile on his face. Along with the hat, he was holding a handcrafted redwood name plaque proclaiming, “Walker & Cathy Moore.”
This was no ordinary name plaque. Cecil’s labor had turned it into a masterpiece. His kindness and generosity touched me deeply. I asked if he would like to join our morning prayer time. He quickly said, “Yes,” coming to sit at the head of the table.
I asked Cecil to tell us a little bit about himself before we prayed. He lit up as he began telling us about his wonderful Lord. He had spent most of his life as an alcoholic. He was just a quarter of an inch from skid row when the Holy Spirit began to convict him of his need for a Savior. One Sunday morning, he got up and told his wife he felt like he was supposed to go to church. His wife laughed, saying, “You have only been to church twice in your life.” That day, he . . . went.
The people at the church welcomed Cecil with open arms. Later that week, the pastor and a deacon came by to explain the plan of salvation. They asked if he would like to ask Jesus into his heart. Right there, he . . . did.
Cecil said after the two men left, he didn’t feel any different from before. The next Sunday, the pastor asked him if he would like to be baptized that evening. Cecil wanted to do whatever God wanted. If He said Cecil should be baptized, then he would be baptized. That night, the pastor again explained to him the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, all represented by baptism. Cecil told us that after the pastor took him under the water, he felt as though he had been struck by 220 volts of electricity. The love of God took hold of his heart and made him a new creation.
We could all see in his eyes that this was the real deal. No religious pretense, no program . . . just a Father who so loved an alcoholic by the name of Cecil that he sent His only Son to die on the cross, setting him free from the devil’s grip on his life.
Every member of our staff grinned from ear to ear as Cecil shared his story. He told it as though it happened yesterday. If he had been a fireman describing a fire, we could have seen the flames and smelled the smoke.
I never get tired of hearing about the ways God adds to his family. I never get tired of the people God chooses to belong to His family. And I never get tired of meeting my brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have the same story: once we were lost , but now we are . . . found. That story is told a thousand different ways, one as unique as another.
One of these days, our Father will gather all of his children home. I can imagine looking over and seeing Cecil. There, I will ask him one more time, “Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?” This time, I will know what is coming next.
Cecil, you have doubly blessed my life today. First, with the gift you made with your hands. And second, with the gift you gave from your heart. I thank you for both. I am going to tell my Father tonight that I met his favorite child . . . Cecil.