For the past 5 days, we’ve been in Hendricks County, Indiana, preaching for the church in Brownsburg, which is just West of Indianapolis.
This is the county where I grew up. We lived in the country between Plainfield and Danville. It’s been years since we’ve been here for any length of time, so I told Norma Jean that it was time to take a trip down memory lane. She patiently went along for the ride and listened to my old childhood stories. We drove the roads where I rode my bike and later begin driving a 1953 Chevy.
We stopped at the house where I lived as a kid. The two trees my Dad planted in the front yard are still there. We drove by the farms where I worked in the corn and soybean fields and baled hay. We went by the original church building where I attended Bible class, was baptized, and began preaching.
I had to show Norma the park where I played basketball and shoot some hoops. Then it was on to Clayton where I attended Middle School and Cascade where I graduated from High School. COVID-19 stipulations prevented us from going inside to see the school and the Gym where I played ball.
We paused for lunch in Danville at the Mayberry Café across from the old courthouse. It reminded me of the many times I’d been there and Mom let me buy some candy at Danners. After lunch, we drove out to Spring Hill cemetery in Cartersburg, where my brother, Bill, is buried and placed flowers on his grave.
This little excursion was not about seeing houses or buildings. Or driving on roads. Or looking at cornfields. It was about precious memories. The wise man wrote, “The memory of the righteous is a blessing” (Prov. 10:7). One writer said, “Memory is the way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
It was during these childhood years growing to adolescence and adulthood, I learned values. My parents taught me the virtue of hard work. Personal responsibility. Morality. Honesty. Character. Self-discipline. And spirituality. In those days both the schools and churches partnered with the parents with the same goals. I was blessed to have teachers, coaches, and Bible class teachers that reinforced those same values.
I fondly recall the encouragement given by my spiritual mentor, Aude McKee, who planted within me a desire to preach the gospel. The wisdom of his counsel, the example of his ministry, and the godliness of his life, have influenced and blessed me for the past 60 years.
As I grow older, I’m so thankful for the legacy that I received. Not everyone is so blessed. However, it reminds me of the need for parents today to seriously think about what memories they are leaving for their children and grandchildren. In addition don’t underestimate your role as a teacher, preacher or pastor. Your influence can have a profound impact on a young person that will shape his life, form his character, and direct his destiny.
Honesty also causes me to seriously reflect on my life. To examine my heart. To evaluate my attitudes and actions. To ask, “Am I being true to the values, ethics and spiritual principles I was taught?”
I heard John Clark, a friend and gospel preacher of bygone days, once ask a question that has been echoing in my mind during this trip. It’s one I’d recommend for reflection to my peers as well.
“Would the boys we were, be proud of the men we’ve become?”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman