Remembering With Gratitude

It was a trip down memory lane when I determined to spend a little time in the loveliest village on the plains. I’d not been to Auburn in a while, so en route to Georgia I took a slight detour and visited the campus. After graduating from Samford, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in communications. Auburn offered the program I liked. This was a fortuitous decision since I made my living for 15 years teaching speech and journalism and have been an adjunct in half a dozen other schools over the years.

I discovered the sixth floor of Haley Center no longer houses Communications. It’s now the Foreign Languages department. And the tiny office I had as a graduate teaching assistant is now the copy room. It was interesting to see food trucks in the area around Haley—an innovation we didn’t have in my day.

An innovation we did have was The Streak. Ray Steven’s song was released when I was at Auburn, and we had a campus streaker who ran through the Haley quad several times wearing a ski mask and not much more. The campus newspaper, “The Plainsman,” interview Mr. Streak without revealing his identity. I was never sure what he was trying to do other than fulfill a fraternity prank.

A Samford friend from nearby Chambers County told me his home church needed a pastor, and he put me in contact with his dad who was one of he deacons. I served the Cusseta Baptist Church as pastor for the 18 months I was in grad school. I remember with fondness the wonderful people who listened to me and encouraged me during that time.

One unique facet of Southern Baptist life is that we don’t have a denominational apprentice program or a bishop to follow our progress and assign responsibilities. Young men (98 percent of Southern Baptist pastors are male) declare their call to ministry and in many cases are thrust into the work immediately. I read about a pastor lately who took the pulpit at age 17. I hope he was more profound than me when I preached my first sermons. My simple sermons were hardly stimulating!

But I remember with gratitude God’s grace and the peoples’ prayers. Faithful church members encourage their young ministers and are patient with us. They know we don’t become old and wise without first being young and dumb!

The older I get the more I realize my indebtedness to wonderful Christians who helped me along the way. And I realize more the enduring value of God’s work. The old adage is yet true: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”