My blog today is going to be sentimental. Nostalgia has been my partner over this past weekend. Memories are so vivid today that I feel like I have been in a time machine. In recent days, I have been able to travel back to a simpler, kinder and gentler time in my life. In making that journey, I remembered many wonderful people, places, and events that shaped me during my formative years. My physical trip took me back to Humboldt, TN this past weekend to conduct the funeral of a lady, B.J. Jones, that was truly like my second mother.
When I was a senior in high school, my dad resigned as pastor of FBC, Humboldt, to move to FBC, Florence, AL. It was going to be 3 months before I graduated when my family moved. Ralph and B.J. Jones graciously told my folks that I could live with them for the remainder of the school year. They were already like family to me, and their home was a truly idyllic setting with a lake out back, pine trees behind their house that stretched “for a while”, and lots of love to share with a 17 year old preacher’s son.
The Jones’ were truly anchors and pillars in Humboldt. If their life stories were written in a book, it would declare the facts clearly of what made America a strong nation. Mr. Jones served in WWII where he was wounded. He came back home, married B.J., went to work in his father’s cotton manufacturing plant, would become the leader of Jones MFG (the name then) and built a great company. Along the way, the two of them were active in numerous community service groups, strong in helping to build up education and sports, ever willing to help people, and all of the time, loving and shaping children to be the best they could be in all things.
The faith of the Jones’ family was exemplary. Every morning at their home, we would gather for breakfast, and Mr. Jones would read a daily Bible reading and lead us in prayer. They were SS teachers, “Training Union” teachers with youth on Sunday night, opened their home for youth parties, cook-outs, and just a place for kids to hang out. They made us believe that with faith in God, living according to His precepts, giving our best every day, and treating others with love and respect, we would be great Christian citizens and help others to be their best, too.
B.J. heard the voice of her Heavenly Father call her by name last Tuesday. She responded quickly to His voice and entered into His presence with the joy of a school girl running home. Today, the 87 years she invested in all of us that were a part of Humboldt, TN are still paying dividends as we live our lives. When I saw Mr. Jones on Saturday morning to pray with him before the funeral service of his mate of 69 years, he was at peace. He said to me, “I am going to miss her so much, but today, I am so happy for her because I know she is with our LORD!”
Thank You, God, for allowing me to grow up in a time when families were strong, work ethic was still a virtue, people were taught to be respectful and kind, and Jesus Christ was taught to boys and girls in Bible study times as well as lived in the lives of many adults so that we could see what Christianity looked like. Thank You for my mother and father that would not let me get away with disobedience to the things of God. Thank You for folks like the Jones’ family that reinforced that truth over and over. Thank You, God, for saving me as a boy, calling me into your ministry, and allowing me to discover that all that my folks and the good people of Humboldt taught me about You is true. I surely am enjoying the journey with You, Lord, as I think of them this day. You are so very good to us as our Heavenly Father. I have no wants!