Showing posts with label teens. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teens. Show all posts

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dad Finds Jesus

(This is a true story and a salute to my dad today)

     “Churches are filled with hypocrites.” Dad stomped out of the house to go back to work.

     Mom’s head drooped. A tear trickled at her temple.

     My jaw relaxed. My teenage rebellion slipped from my mind and evaporated like the sweat on my forehead. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’ll sit with you in church.”

    My petite mother reached up to hug me. “You kids disturbed others in the service last Sunday.” She rubbed the bridge of her nose. “You can’t do that.”

     Talking too loud was my friend, Margie’s fault, but I had gone along  with it. Enveloping Mom’s tiny frame with my embrace, I patted her back. “I’m sorry. But, if you let me sit in the back one more time, I’ll be quiet. I promise.”

    She pulled away with a harrumph.

    Tightness seized my jaw again. I gritted my teeth. “Dad should sit with you. Then, you wouldn’t have to sit by yourself, and I wouldn’t have to move.” Dad was my hero. I hated Mom’s critical attitude, but right now, I was mad at him.

     “The reason you must sit by me is your own actions, young lady.” Mom grabbed her shears and headed toward her vegetable garden. “Want to help me this afternoon?”

      “No. Is it okay if I go to the station? I’ve got more tickets for the school carnival to sell. Thought I’d ask Uncle Check.”

      Mom’s shoulders slumped. “Sure. Be back by three.”

     I walked the two blocks to the station and garage owned by my father and uncle. When I trudged up the left side, I spotted Pastor Sutton talking with Dad.

     Stooped over to check the tires, Dad looked up squinting at the sun. “Need all four tires replaced, Pastor.”

     The man frowned. “Could you wait for payment until the end of the month?”

     "Sure. I’ll install them now. Shouldn’t be more than an hour.”

Mom always berated Dad for being too soft-hearted. That’s one thing I loved about him.      

     A smile burst from Pastor Sutton. He clapped my dad on the back. “Thanks, R. O., I can always count on you.”

     Dad’s eyes widened when he looked my way. “How’s my girl? Come to help out?”

     I pulled out my tickets. “I’m selling carnival tickets. Pastor Sutton, can you buy a ticket from me? I’m trying to win the grand prize.”

     The pastor’s eyes twinkled. “Sorry, young lady, but I’ve already bought four for our family.”

     I nodded, gave Dad a hug, and headed to the garage to find my uncle.

     Sunday morning, Mom and I drove to church. We hadn’t spoken anymore about seating arrangements, but I knew I’d be sitting with Mom and not with my friends. Today, I didn’t mind since I would walk forward and put sixteen pennies in the birthday bank. Last week marked my big birthday celebration.

     Pastor Sutton wasn’t there. A new preacher, Brother Plemmons, brought the sermon. After church, my mother and I met the new pastor. I liked him. He was younger and repeated my name as if storing it in memory.

     I dropped my hand and turned toward the door. “Where is Pastor Sutton?” I asked Mom.

     “He moved and took another church.”

     All week, I studied on the change of pastors. On the way home from school on Tuesday, I had the bus drop me off at the station. As I drug my book bag toward the office, I spotted the new pastor. I hid behind the cases of drinks and watched.

He wrote a check and handed it to my dad. “Thanks, Brother Thornton. I’d like to give you a personal invitation to our church next Sunday.”

     I expected an immediate, “no, thanks,” but instead my dad clutched his chin, something I often saw him do. “Thanks. My wife and daughter go to that church. What happened to the other preacher?”

    Pastor Plemmons rocked back on his heels. “Don’t know. Will you come? We need more good men to help me and God build something great.”

    A strange expression crossed Dad’s face. His chest swelled. “Thanks for paying for your battery right away.”

     “Only fair. You did the work.” The preacher's lilting tone sounded like he was smiling. He turned to leave.

I had no choice but to step forward.

“Janet, so nice to see you again,” Brother Plemmons said.

     Dad rose and followed the pastor. He dropped his arm around my shoulders. “I’ll see you Sunday.” He smiled down at me.

     The next Sunday, Dad did go to church with us and sat beside Mom and me. Even though Mom said I could sit with Margie, I chose to follow them. It was a special occasion. Mom and I had attended that church all my life, but never with Dad.

     Two months later, Jesus saved my dad. I was one proud sixteen-year-old. I think he had to see Jesus evident in someone from church before he could meet Jesus at the altar.

Before my seventeenth birthday, Dad began teaching high school and won many teenagers to Jesus in the next thirteen years of his life. When Dad died, we asked Pastor Plemmons to preach the funeral.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving my dad.