SIMPLE TRUTH: The road less traveled

Published 9:21 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

By Charles Christmas

It happened to me two Sundays ago where I attend public worship. It was the annual Men’s Day, and the focus was on men who give of themselves and the young sons of fathers, some of whom are presently serving for us on the battlefields of the world.

The focus was on men, celebrating those men who have chosen “the road less traveled,” and with whom it has made all the difference.

We were confronted with the statement from God’s brief book of wisdom which warns that “There is a road that actually seemed or seems right to you, but alas, in this present world your destination includes the death of what might have been, could have been, and should have been: the life God, in his love, desired for you.”

It happened to me two Sundays ago where I saw and heard the men’s instrumental ensemble lead the prelude worship and the offertory worship. Forty-eight men packed the choir loft and would not allow the quality of the normal Sunday morning church choir ministry be diluted.

Ah, but when the male trio ministered two separate times; that is when it happened to me!

Thankfully, in our sanctuary, a box of tissues is never farther than one step from the end of any row of seats, for whatever may be the need. I estimate that I needed and used no less than eight tissues.

“Just A Closer Walk” was the title of the trio’s earlier song, reminding us that even though we may be so very weak, God is strong, and therefore, our very own strength.

For me, it reminded me of Hank Jones, a man who chose “the road less traveled.” Hank was from the Midwest; a western cowboy, multi-instrument player, singer, and, of sorts, a small band improviser; a local radio personality and a likable, decent guy.

Hank’s and my path collided on Rural Free Delivery Route Three in Hammond, La., strawberry capital of the world at that time. He began to attend our country church. God had given me a deep interest in Hank.

I called his insurance agency and asked him to come by my house as soon as possible for a private meeting. Through God orchestrating this, Hank chose “the road less traveled.”

Never before, or since, has God’s saving grace and mercy permitted me to baptize in such family breadth in one service. Hank, his teenage daughter, and his father—three generations—were baptized together.

Hank became a Christian husband, father, businessman, county commissioner, church treasurer and deacon. He enlarged his Western music performance into huge area events, as well as on local television, but his choice in musical ministries was the use of his accordion and voice, especially for senior adult events and in nursing homes.

But how did the male trio’s song, “Just a Closer Walk,” relate to what happened to me two Sunday mornings ago? Yes, it flooded my mind with the wonderful Hank Jones story, but you see, at that point in our lives, another of Louise’s and my happy ministries was duet singing, and above all, we loved to sing “Just a Closer Walk,” accompanied by the Western cowboy singer, Hank Jones, on his accordion. No need to explain any further is there?

It happened to me two Sundays ago. Yes, later in the service, the male trio did a beautiful rendition of … you guessed it: “Precious Memories.” I don’t try to explain it to folks any more; it is simply the truth. No memory of my “forever and only darling” ever has or will bring sadness to me; rather thanksgiving and praise and rejoicing.

It is a blessed experience to weep with thanksgiving and praise, and even shouts of rejoicing. You have seen it in print, and many have heard it from my lips that Louise means much more to me in so many ways now than ever before. The truth is that all my memories of her inspire, encourage, support, challenge, assure and provide example for me.

Sometimes a memory will rebuke and correct me, and memories of her say to me, “I believe in you. Please don’t put away the dreams inside of you. You have God’s power to make them real!”

I’m 86, but I speak the word of faith. I am taking “the road less traveled,” and I have never been so excited about what lies immediately ahead for here and now. You can’t even imagine what God is going to do here and now.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus underscores the “much traveled” and the “less traveled” road: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But narrow is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.