Learning from Our Past

We all have a story.  From Parents and grandparents, siblings and friends–to places we’ve been and things we have done–we all have stories that have molded the person we are today.  Our past can describe us, but doesn’t have to define us.  I want to learn from my past and make choices that reflect the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Many of the events of the Bible are there to help us understand who God is, but also to help us to understand ourselves a little better too.  When we dig in to the Bible we see real people with real struggles.  We see victory and we see failure, and in the midst of it all–we see the difference their faith makes.

Because this week marked the one year anniversary of the death of my sweet father-in-law, [see https://wateringcanblog.com/2012/07/12/lifes-a-puzzle/], I thought I’d share a  story from his childhood and how it was clearly a catalyst for change in the generations to follow.

My pastor husband has told this story countless times, and I never tire of hearing it.  It has had a profound effect on me in many ways– and I want to recount it to remind myself and future generations of the impact of our decisions…

You see, FAITH MATTERS.

His father was a crippled farmer raising eight children.  His mother was sickly.  A sister that was only three years older became like a surrogate mother to him, but was tragically killed when she was thrown from their surrey when a drunk driver slammed into them on the way home from the annual fair.  It was a month before her tenth birthday.

“At some point before Nelda’s death, she had asked our mother how to be saved.  Mom was working at the sewing machine and kind of brushed Nelda off,

thinking she had plenty of time to talk to her about it.”

“I’ve seen my mother cry many times, regretting that she didn’t take advantage of that opportunity before Nelda was killed.” **

Eldon had a “curiosity about what churches did or said about ‘being saved”, and not long after Nelda’s death, “and maybe because of it”, He asked his parents if He could go to a revival at the local Baptist Church.  The first night of the revival he “asked Jesus to come into my heart.”**  He was eight years old.  The next night his father was saved.

“On one occasion, I remember asking Dad, when I saw tears running down his face, what was wrong,

to which he replied, “Your older brothers never saw a Christian dad.”**

Those older siblings did see the “new” dad, though, and in 1942 he was instrumental in starting a new church in their area, where he served faithfully as a deacon.

That young boy committed his life to Christ and grew to be a godly man and grandfather.  He lived his life in a way that has had an impact on his children, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.  His story will be told for generations to come, and even those descendants that won’t ever hear the story will undoubtedly be impacted by the most important decision he ever made:  TO LIVE FOR CHRIST.

He served in two wars:  World War II and the Korean War.  During one of his overseas duties he made a commitment to a  life of ministry.

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His life was not an easy one, but one that blessed many along the way as he served churches all over Illinois as a bi-vocational pastor.  He raised four godly sons and so far every one of his children and grandchildren have followed his example of faith by trusting Christ alone for their salvation.

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One of the things he often said was, “Enjoy every season of life.  Some are easier than others, but equally important.  Don’t live in the past, but learn from it.  Don’t pine away for the future and miss the blessings of today.”

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We love you, Dad, and miss you terribly.  Our hope is in the promises of the Savior you have taught us to trust.  What a sweet reunion we will have some day!

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**THE QUOTES COME FROM HIS MEMOIRS:  MY EARLY YEARS, written in 2011.

  1 comment for “Learning from Our Past

  1. Jan Gilreath
    July 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Oh my! Memories of love, truth, respect shared with us all. I have heard some of the story before now understanding it clearer with tears and smiles.

    Like

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