It’s odd that a childhood memory is filed in my brain as both one of the best and one of the worst memories of my life. Go back with me to about age nine to a little neighborhood church on Pence Avenue, squeezed between a market and a simple cottage home. These were the days when we had church twice on Sunday and twice in the middle of the week. Tuesday night was YPE (Young People’s Endeavor) and Thursday was prayer meeting. Mom and Dad rarely missed a service, so that meant neither did I.
I always enjoyed YPE because different people would have the service and bring their own “bent” to the proceedings. My favorite was when someone would invite a local quartet, and I had that to look forward to. Some of those groups have become good friends of mine today. Some people were much more creative than others, but it was always enjoyable….that is until someone suggested we have one of those popcorn testimony services. You know the kind. Sister Johnson finishes her testimony with “God bless you Brother Tucker”, and then it’s his turn to stand up and say something intelligent. You would think a kid would be exempt, but no, sir.
I never spent so much time tying my shoes in my life (I was wearing penny loafers). I could not possibly let myself get picked to offer a testimony. I mean, I had spent my life listening to the saints of the church hop up, grateful for the opportunity to tell what the Lord had done for them, sometimes with great emotion and fire. What could I possibly say that was half way interesting… I thank God Myrtle the Turtle is still alive?
Some would talk about how the Lord brought them out of sin and darkness into his “glorious light”. I was a kid, and other than an unfortunate incident as a kindergartener when I snagged a Henny Penny book (that dad made me take back and confess), I wasn’t aware of doing anything else wrong.
I remember one old sister would get loud and then soft and burst out loud again, just enough to scare the daylights out of you. One old gentleman would always say the same thing, “I just wanna thank Him fer ever thang.” Another old brother, I couldn’t honestly tell you anything he said, for as soon as he began, he cried all the way through. One night I quit tying my shoes too soon and about the time I brought my head up, somebody said, “God Bless you, Sister Janice.” My heart was pounding like a trip hammer as I stood to my feet, knees shaking, and heard myself say, “I wanna thank Him for saving me.” Whew. One line. I had done my duty and was relieved it was over.
I think about that now, so many years down the road…so many struggles He’s brought me through. I think if I start today to thank Him for everything He’s done for me, I could go on for eternity thanking Him with nowhere to end. What a difference a few years makes.
I miss those old days of the testimony service, and I long to hear the stories again of God’s redeeming grace and healing power. I think we have missed the boat by not making time for that in our services. Perhaps we are too sophisticated these days.
There are many, many scriptures that talk about giving thanks to God, but I think my favorite is a short sweet version that pretty much says it all for those of us who have trouble articulating…….”Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
God Bless you Brother/Sister (insert your name here)!